7/24/12 Lake View to Webster City – 82 miles
Didn’t get much sleep last night because there was a band playing nearby until the early morning hours. We camped in a field across the street from the friend’s lakehouse. Then, it seemed like traffic for a while. Then, beginning about 4:15 am – believe it or not – I started hearing bicycles whirring by. Shortly after that, people from our group started getting up and tearing down their tents. I took that as my cue and went to get Randy up. We were on the road by about 5:30 am. No coffee – a big no-no.
It was still fairly dark and there were hundreds of bikes with bike lights flashing leaving town. Apparently, after the brutal heat on Monday, everyone decided to get off to an earlier than normal start. I was not in a very good mood – have I mentioned this RAGBRAI thing is probably not my cup of tea? I told Randy that I did not think it was fun, essentially because I felt a little claustrophobic and trapped. You are surrounded by hordes of bicyclists, and there is no escape. Plus, getting something decent to eat is difficult and requires standing in long long lines. And it was miserably hot on Monday, and today looked to be hot + an additional 20 miles to boot. Randy was really nice, and suggested I look again at detouring to Fairfield, IA to visit a mediation center I was interested in seeing. Then, I could meet him after RAGBRAI to resume the cross-country ride to D.C. The problem is logistics of getting to Fairfield. Also, my friend Diane had driven up from Austin to ride a couple of days with some friends from Des Moines, and I hoped to hook up with her for at least some of the ride. That is another story. Even though Diane got here last night, there is no cell/Internet service and we can’t communicate. So, for all I know, we could have been staying almost next door last night and would never have known. At any rate, I was touched by Randy’s suggestion and willingness to help me map a route and make it happen.
We made an initial stop at a road side vendor after 5 miles to get a cup of coffee that was surprisingly good. That certainly helped my outlook. After another 15 miles, we stopped for a pancake breakfast at a middle school in Lake City (a city that doesn’t have a lake). We cruised on and made it to the lunch city by 9:30 am and had a strawberry smoothie. Continued steady riding another 20 miles or so. By noon, we had met our goal to knock out a sizeable portion of the day’s ride and had ridden approx 60 miles – it was getting really hot and we started facing strong headwinds. The type that wear you out. I was struggling with the headwinds and had to stop frequently. Drank a ton of water and Gatorade. At one point when I was having a real sinking spell, Randy suggested we stop at this homemade ice cream vendor that was set up in this field alongside the road. Beekman’s Homemade Ice Cream. They had these huge churns making the ice cream right there. When we got up to the window, Randy noted that they had root beer floats, and we decided to try them. Great decision – they were fabulous. And I felt refreshed and satisfied for the first time today. I now have yet another food addiction to add to the list. I thought about how much my Dad loves ice cream and how he would have loved that place.
After the root beer floats, we kept after it through the headwinds. At Lehigh, we came across some sizeable hills to go along with the headwinds. Luckily, we also got a few breaks from the headwinds as the road jagged north at some points.
After what seemed like forever, we got a nice tailwind the last 6 miles into Webster City, our destination city for the night. When we arrived at the house where we are camping tonight, Mike enthusiastically told us, “you are the second to arrive behind Packer…” he sounded just like Phil on Amazing Race, and I thought of my sister and Mom. We love Amazing Race and, in fact, I would love to do the race. My biggest obstacle is that I need to find a partner that could handle the gross eating challenges. I thought about Randy, since we are such compatible traveling companions and work well together. When I mentioned it to him, he said he had never seen the show. I tried to describe it to him and he didn’t seem the least bit interested until I mentioned the $1 million prize. That did seem to pique his interest, but we haven’t had any further discussions. If we are still talking with each other by the end of the bike trip, perhaps I will bring it up again.
Back to Webster City. Since we were almost first to arrive, we got to take showers first at the house where we are camping out. There are about 25 people in the group and 1 shower, so it is a big advantage to get to go near first. Actually, I got to go first. It was so wonderful to take my time and savor the shower, since most of the others weren’t in yet. I also washed out a some things to wear the next few days, so YEA – clean clothes. Randy and I then visited with some of the folks at the bus before heading to McDonalds to get one of those frozen strawberry lemonade “brain freezes” I am becoming addicted to.
Next, we biked to the house where Diane was supposed to be staying (I had finally received an e-mail with the address). Diane was still not there -it was going on 6:00 pm – and we visited with the other folks there while we waited to see if she might show up. About 15 minutes later Diane and her friend John came trudging up. She looked a little traumatized after the 81 mile day amongst the hordes of bikers, but recovered fairly quickly and we had a nice visit with her. It was nice to see someone from home. Diane and I agreed that we were glad to have experienced RAGBRAI , but once was probably enough.
Tomorrow promises another grueling 71 mile day. I am trying to convince Randy of the advantages of another early morning start to beat the heat and get to the next destination town early. We’ll see. Meanwhile, I actually had a pretty good day and will make the most of RAGBRAI. Still, my impression remains the same – not my cup of tea.