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!
It’s a good thing our family never went on RAGBRAI together. Our house had one bathroom for a family of 4. On school/work mornings, there were some traffic jams that tried our souls. I will admit there were some voices raised.
On RAGBRAI, there is a line for everything and it is rarely a short line. At 5 a.m., the line for the porta-potties was 50 and growing.
What you have to remember about RAGBRAI, it is that it is about the ride.
You simply have to deal with the heat and the lines. And the thing is, the lines aren’t really that bad. They move quickly and it’s a great opportunity to meet someone new.
I’m not saying the line time flies, but talking with strangers is part of the ride. And, if you’re from Iowa, it’s part of your unofficial mission to explain why people often mistake Iowa for heaven.
The ride today was HARD. Lots of hills and sun. The good thing was that it wasn’t THAT hot. And the wind wasn’t against us.
Everybody (at least the folks around me) started with good humor and great enthusiasm, pedaling fast, almost as if it were a race.
One guy jokingly shouted, “I want to tell the folks back home that I won RAGBRAI.” He was in a crowd so I couldn’t see him.
Another rider saw my RAGBRAI license plate – Alan Sivell, Davenport, IOWA! – and shouted, “Hey Alan, do you know where we’re going?”
“Sure,” said I. “Follow me.”
But what started as a mass of riders kept thinning throughout the day. Each town really laid out the welcome mat to lure the riders off their bikes. And they were successful. You had to walk your bike through town because it was so crowded with everyone walking their bikes.
Townspeople were holding fundraisers for their schools and churches.
The people of Washta, Iowa could count all the visitors who come and go over the next 25 years and it will never add up to the people who ate a brat or a piece of pie at their fire station today.
At mile 58 of 78 I was spent. I was pedaling but it was no longer fun. Then I saw a guy about my age from Milwaukee and we got into a great 20-mile discussion about RAGBRAI, Iowa, our jobs, kids and retirement. Pretty soon we were pulling into Storm Lake
My tent is about 100 yards from the lake. It’s beautiful.
I started the day grumbling about the lines and the riders cutting in and out of the pack to race ahead. But I loved the ride and the people I talked to along the way. Now that today’s ride is over – and I’m pretty sure my training is paying off – I love RAGBRAI. We’ll see if that holds true tomorrow.