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!
If there ever was a night and day to try out RAGBRAI, last night in Fort Dodge and today on the road to Eldora was it.
Last night, in the shadow of the Fort Dodge High School’s Dodger Stadium, it was light sleeping bag weather. Perfect for camping.
And today? Glorious!
It was the perfect Midwestern summer day: deep blue skies, puffy white clouds, no humidity and roughly 80 degrees. And the roads, as one rider put it, were like velvet.
The route today was flat and fast, which makes riders feel free to stop at more towns and roadside stands; and since everyone was feeling good, they were up for chatting.
I stopped for a peanut butter sandwich with homemade jam and spotted a guy wearing an Indiana bike jersey. I jokingly said he had a lot of nerve wearing that in Iowa (I still haven’t shaken the Lute Olsen/Bobby Knight battles). Turns out, he lives in Macomb, is a professor at Western and knows a friend of my wife’s.
Then I rode up on Danny and Donna Gersch as we rolled into Webster City. She’s a retired Sherrard High School teacher and Danny just retired from John Deere Harvester. They now have time for longer bike rides.
A little later Mike Murphy noticed my tags and said hello. He’s ridden RAGBRAI many times with his mom and then his kids … and now his mom and his kids. Mike rode it when he was in the Air Force and did a little recruiting while on the ride. Now he’s out of the Air Force and studying to be a math teacher.
I also talked to anyone pedaling my speed (even if they were from out of state) and did an Iowa sell job on them. I too, am from out of state, having moved here 37 years ago with an exit plan. But now I love the Midwest and have no plans to leave.
There was one interesting stretch of bad road today. Just as on I-80, there was construction on the road and we had to get off our bikes, merge down to 2 x 2 and walk a quarter of a mile over gravel. No one complained and the talk was light and playful as we got through the work area. I couldn’t help but think of how angry and stressed we get when the same situation happens on the highway. Even though we are in air-conditioned cars.
BTW, my knees feel great! My back, my arms and my hips have a bit of soreness after three 70+ mile days. But that’s to be expected. They are the original parts and they have more wear on them than the knees.