Tuesday, July 27, 2010

RAGBRAI Day 3: Tougher than it seems

When I woke up this morning, I wasn't the only RAGBRAI biker excited for today's ride.

All signs pointed to an easy day of biking after a tough 79-mile ride the day before. The ride was supposed to be 20 miles shorter, there weren't a whole lot of hills and the skies were overcast in the morning. I even managed to depart from the campsite in Algona by 6:30 a.m., a personal best for me this week, in an attempt to hammer out a quick day of biking. I figured I'd get to Clear Lake early, hang out on the beach there (pictured right) and possibly hit up the Tiki Bar

However, despite the easier logistics, the ride today was far from a cake walk for two reasons: Wind and humidity.

Wind turbines are a regular site in Iowa, and after departing from Gardner (22 miles away from Clear Lake), the turbines along the road began spinning furiously as the wind started blowing in our faces. The temperature had already risen into the 80's at that point (with a heat index several degrees warmer thanks to humidity). Add in a 15 mph head wind, and those last 22 miles seemed pretty darn long. I'm not sure if it was the same for other riders, but I had to refill my water bottle twice after Gardner.

Other thoughts on the day:

  • I checked a food stop off the RAGBRAI bucket list today when I pulled into the Pastafari stand just outside of Gardner. I had been told about Pastafari by several experienced riders, all of whom sang high praises to the pasta's incredible taste and generous proportions. It was an expensive roadside meal ($12 for a pasta bowl and an orange juice), but other rider's claims about its wonderful taste weren't lying. The pasta was seasoned with a garlic/herb sauce similar to the kind you'd find in Italian bread and was topped off with grated Parmesan, grilled zucchini and squash. To top it all off, the stand had some pretty cool reggae music playing in the background. Considering I was hungry enough to eat a shoe at that point, it was definitely a welcomed stop.
  • I've seen some strange bikes this week, but none quite like the banana bike pictured on the right. Adding to the fruity three-wheeler's getup was its owner, also dressed as a banana. I imagine the people at the free banana stand today got a kick out of that.
  • Every host community has a "theme" it tries to cater its festivities around. Clear Lake's "Surf's Up" slogan captures the town perfectly. For being a relatively small town of less than 10,000, it's a pretty cool lake community. The downtown area funnels down to the lake and the beach is the best I've seen so far this week. While RAGBRAI riders (myself included) took a dip in the lake to cool off, a live band kept us entertained with Beach Boys covers and a limbo contest.
  • Quick history lesson: Clear Lake is just south of the site of the plane crash that killed rock legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake was actually the last performance venue for the three musicians.

1 comment:

  1. I have a friend riding and friend working on RAGBRAI... I'm enjoying hearing your stories!
    I hope the rest of ride is great!