Monday, June 14, 2010

Some good news in the mail

Anyone with a mailbox knows how mundane it usually is to check it.

Most of the time, if you're not getting bills in the mail, you're getting coupons and "special offers" that you don't plan on using. I don't know if it's the same for anybody else, but if I go more than a week without checking my mail, it's usually overflowing with mail from Charter about their "New promotional deals" on expanded cable packages.

A few days ago however, I received a piece of mail that pretty much made my week. It wasn't an additional tax refund, nor was it a voucher for free Twins tickets. It was my information packet for RAGRAI, a group bike trip I'm participating in later this summer.

For those who haven't heard of it before, RAGBRAI is short for Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. The ride takes place over the course of a week (this year it's from July 25-31), begins in Sioux City and ends in Dubuque, more than 450 miles later.

I'm sure some of you are probably wondering what's wrong with me. After all, it's Iowa. While I was on road trips with my dad when I was younger, we used to joke that Iowa was one of those states that was better to drive through in the dark, since there wasn't much worth looking at in the daytime. Why would I take a week off work and drop $140 to bike across a state whose defining geographical characteristic is cornfields?

Well, for one thing, I'm not the only doing it. In it's 38th year of existence, RAGBRAI usually draws around 10,000 riders annually with skill levels varying from Average Joe cyclist to former Tour de France competitors (Lance Armstrong rode several stages of it in 2006 and 2007). RAGBRAI garners national exposure on a yearly basis for being one of the most popular and well-established group rides in the country.

For another thing, biking will hardly be the only item on the itinerary. Upon glancing at RAGBRAI's website, I found out that every host community along the way (i.e. towns we'll be staying in every night) will be rolling out the red carpet for visiting cyclist. In addition to town festivals and tourist attractions, every host community has a live music act planned for evening entertainment. In Sioux City, for example, I'll get to experience a bit of 6th grade nostalgia by listening to a live performance from Smash Mouth (if they don't play "Walking on the Sun," I'm going to be VERY upset).

Aside from that, unlike every road race and triathlon I've signed up for in the past, it's not a race. There's no prize for whoever bikes across Iowa the fastest. I don't have to be concerned with my pacing or whether or not I'll be able to pass someone before the next bend in the road. The only goal for the week is to have fun, soak up some culture and get acquainted with other people who have decided to take a week off from their life to do some biking.

The contents of the information packet were relatively simple. Just a booklet on how to prepare for RAGBRAI and an assortment of identification tags I'm to keep on me at all times during the trip. But considering the contents reminded me of what I'll be doing later in the summer, I was more excited to see that in the mail than I would've been for an extra tax refund.

Well, almost as excited.


For any regular readers that it may concern, I am now going with a different header for my blog. The backdrop behind the blog's title and description is an actual collection of racing bib numbers I've accumulated over the years. Feel free to chime in your two cents about whether it looks good, bad or ugly.

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