Professor and former WQAD-TV reporter Alan Sivell is biking RAGBRAI and blogging for LMQC about it this year. You can follow his adventure right here!
Ehhhh–ehhhh-ehhhhhhhhhh! Honk-honk-hooooonnnnnkkkkkk! The day started at 3:30 a.m. when the late night truckers and early morning commuters decided the people in all those tents on the hillside needed their fun/sleep spoiled. Kind of like the spoilsports who like to honk their horns as they drive by golf courses.
That was OK. After yesterday, many RAGBRAI-ers were planning an early start for a day with more hills and more great parties. Mount Vernon hosted a great one, with crowd-packed streets by 9:30 am. The day was cloudy and cool and made for a fast first 30 miles into town.
I finally caught up with some of the St. Ambrose alumni. Denny Reynolds, class of 1975, has ridden many RAGBRAIs, as has classmate Joan Conrad. I saw another Ambrose jersey go by, and – with my two reconstituted knees – chased down Jennifer Weiss, class of 2000. She played soccer at SAU.
SAU-TV was in town, interviewing alums. Johnna Kerres of Milan and Don “Duke” Schneider were looking for anyone wearing blue and white today (it was College Jersey Day). I saw no Hampden-Sydney jerseys other than mine.
I tried to convince SAU alums Donna (Liston) and Jeff Young to stick around for SAU-TV, but they snuck out of town, hoping to avoid the rain. And they were wise. It was right behind us all morning, just waiting to strike.
The morning had started with an overcast sky and mood. There wasn’t much music or conversation. It was almost as if everyone was on a mission to get to the end. Yes, some of the beer gardens were full of bikes and people, but as the storm clouds got closer, the riders got back on the road, quieter and more determined.
But we couldn’t outrun the rain … or the lightening and thunder. Around 11, as I was entering Solon, the rain started slowly. I went down a back alley and found a line of porta-potties that hadn’t been discovered by the masses. That’s where I was when the storm sirens went off. I had a quick flash of being carted off to Oz in the act.
I tried to continue on but a trooper told me that the storm would pass in an hour and a half. He said I should head back up the hill and wait it out in the Solon library. Which I did, with about 4 dozen others.
We faced lots of wind and hills on the last 20 miles into Coralville. But people in my camp are upbeat. They beat the storm. Some rode through it, some waited it out. But we all know the hardest part is over. It’s just one more quick 65-mile dash to Davenport. The vendors will be gone because they know the riders are focused on the “finish” line: Credit Island in Davenport.
I’m focused on my finish line: my bed. And if it’s too hot or humid, my air conditioner.