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!
RAGBRAI regulars know there is a strategy to the ride. Rookies (ahem) don’t. Although I do now.
The fact is, the ride is a 7-day endurance test, not a race.
Rookies know it’s a 7-day ride when they sign up, but they don’t know what that really means.
So on Sunday (day #1), a day with about 4,000 feet of hills to climb, many of us rookies went all-out to show how well we had trained. I’ll admit, I was thinking, “RAGBRAI hills? Big deal.”
But then came mid-day Monday (day #2) when I discovered a soreness in the back of my arm that I had never felt in my life. Then 10 miles later, a soreness in my right hip. Oh, no, I thought. A hip replacement?
But I made it to the end of the day. Tuesday started great and the pain seemed to be gone … only to return with 35 miles still to go. It really hurt, especially in my hip.
But I slowed down and paced myself and the pain began to moderate. And since before my knee operations I had been instructed on how to moderate the pain of bone on bone, I did some stretching and took some Naproxen. Today I had almost no pain.
Lesson learned: Pace yourself. My knees might be new, but not my brain.
Today: Great Weather, Great Fellow Riders
The weather today was almost as good as yesterday, with temps never breaking 80. A cloud cover that lasted a good portion of the day rescued a lot of riders who can’t seem to outpace the sun with their sunscreen.
Being a former reporter, I talk to people, which makes the social part of this ride like shooting fish in a barrel. I can’t help it.
As soon as the riders spread out on the road – which they do after leaving en masse in the morning – I find myself momentarily pacing with someone and start chatting. My first “victim” today was Scott Dixon from Michigan who turned out to be a 1977 Bettendorf High School grad. We found his wife, Pam, in the crowd and pulled off for a picture. They still have relatives in the QC.
Then I found another guy from Michigan who was stationed at the RI Arsenal during the Vietnam War. A rider from Minnesota was struggling up a hill and I commiserated with him. He had a bit of an accent and told me he’d moved from South Africa during “the bad old days.” He now teaches courses at St. Cloud State on genocide. (He told me he had been “detained” by the government the first time when he was 8 years old.) You can learn a lot in 4-5 minutes of side-by-side pedaling.
“Haven’t had this much fun since I was 7!”
Pie at the Bethel Church on the outskirts of Parkersburg drew me in and I found myself sitting next to someone from West Des Moines, riding with his daughter. Turns out she’s interested in the Physical Therapy program at St. Ambrose. I immediately whipped out my business card (you never know), assured her of the quality of the program and sung the praises of my Rock Valley PT, Becky, who is an Ambrose grad.
Four days in and I’m loving this experience – although I could do without the riders with boom boxes.
Pedaling up one very steep hill, I came upon a rider who had a slow, my-dog-died, my-beer-is-warm, country western song blasting away. I know I shouldn’t have said anything, but “You’re depressing me! I’ll never get up this hill!” came out of my mouth before I could stop myself. I tried to pretend to say it in good humor. 😉
Still, as I came into camp this afternoon, someone asked me how my ride went today. Without thinking or hesitating a nanosecond, I gushed, “I haven’t had this much fun since I was a 7 year old!”