With my cycling gear on, my bag on the truck, and my bike leaning up against the port-a-potty; I finish washing my hand when a cyclist collapse to the ground holding his knee. A RAGBRAI worker screams “Medic, Medic, we need a Medic,” like its Vietnam. A medic didn’t show up but Pete did, an athletic trainer from our Circle of Life. (I have ridden with Pete two years ago on his first RAGBRAI and my fourth. Since then he has landed a job as an athletic trainer at the Des Moines Buccaneer Hockey Team.) Now back to ‘Nam, Pete is at the guy’s side, trying to explain that he was an athletic trainer but the guy interrupted with, “Just fix it!” So he did. Pete extended the guy’s leg since he couldn’t and forced his knee cap back into place. At that time several others as well as the “Medic” had made it to the scene, Pete explained that it would swell and he probably shouldn’t ride today. The recently healed cyclist was helped up to his feet and extremely thankful for Pete’s quick response. Pete has humble about it but my Dad made him the hero. He was so pumped about “Pete’s Healing” that we wanted to bike around and kick people’s knee caps out so that Pete can continue his doctoral practice. “The lame walk again,” my dad comments.
After playing, “Hospital” we all embarked on another 70+ mile day. This day had the century option, to travel 100 miles if you where so insane to choose so. As much I want to say I have ridden triple digits in one day before I die, today wasn’t the day. As normal we stopped for breakfast and soon after lost Mike. The trophy for today was this place called Honey Creek Resort State Park, a state owned resort on a beautiful lake. Pete’s girlfriend’s dad worked at the golf course there so it was decided to stop by and make it our lunch stop.
By this time in the ride the hills have stopped rolling and only pose a challenge about 30% of the ride, which is a nice change. It reminded more of the “flatter” years of RAGBRAI with corn on either side of you until you roll up on a town with soaring grain silos. Instead of silos, a huge billboard popped outta no-where welcoming us to Honey Creek Resort. Only problem was that corn fields still surrounded us. We learned that the resort was 2 miles toward the lake with a shuttle every 15 mins. SHUTTLE! We had bikes and what is another 4 miles on the total of the day, HA! So we coasted the 2 miles into paradise, literally. One moment you were in Iowa country and the next you were in Aspen at summer. Cabins dotted the winding road that weaved through/around the golf course, then a mecca of condos arose from the once fertile fields. A fresh line of Kibos (port-a-potties) was the only marker that the largest bike ride in America was only a couple of miles away. The lobby was full of rich wood, elegant rocks, and lycra clothed cyclists. The back porch was more of the Rug-a-Boo feel, live band and long line for the bar. But then slip into the restaurant and you are quickly sucked back into the seclusion of the resort; the only tell being the Tour de France on the flat screens. (It was the individual time trial, which Alberto Contador won and solidified his victory. Lance in third overall.) For lunch I had fried green tomato pasta, the thought was pasta for carb loading and give the whole green tomato a try. It wasn’t a failure just maybe not the two combined next time.
By this time of the day we have lost total communication with Mike as he “zips” from one town to another. Cell phones dieing and losing juice fast we send hurried texts with brief updates. Text-tag.
From Honey Creek we grind out the last half of the day. “Grind” is the proper term because we headed north straight into the wind, yipee! The best way to deal with this is teamwork. A technique common in cycling is draft lines. Basically it is a line of riders one after the other. From the outside looking in it just looks like a ordered group but it serves a purpose. When you are riding by yourself, you take the full brunt of the wind all the time. If you pull behind someone they take on the wind while you “rest.” It is not like a “lazy-boy” experience but you don’t have to work as hard. The fair and proper way to do a draft line is that everyone trades off the lead. A rider will take the lead and set a good pace as long as he/she can then the second rider will relieve the first, sometimes a time interval or just the feel of the tempo. It is one of the coolest feeling in cycling, usually considered an individual sport but in this situation you come together for the survival of the pack. (This is how teams on the Tour support one rider to try and win. If ya have questions concerning this strategy, ask it below.) So we drafted into the overnight time.
Ottumwa (A-tum-wha,) is another town in which my dad grew up in. His grandparents lived there and would frequent them yearly when he was young. So we had the “insider-edge” once again as we hit the town later that night. The local-gem of Ottumwa is the Canteen. The Canteen is a diner devoted to loose hamburger sandwiches, the Canteen. Much like a Maid-Rite but much better. (If I have lost you, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canteen_Lunch_in_the_Alley) My Dad’s dad (my grandpa) would take my dad to this place every time they came into town. So my dad does the same. After Happy Hour and meeting new cyclists from Kansas City, we tried to seek out the Canteen but much to late (closed at 7pm.) So if you can’t stuff your face with loose hamburger what is the nest best thing? MEXCIAN! And luckily we got sat at the local mexican restaurant 10 seconds before they closed their doors. Another beef/bean/rice stuffed night.
In this process of pursuing the Canteen turned Mexican adventure my brother has made positive ground with a bike-date he met on the ride. He was wooing her off on the lake somewhere. “Spittin’ Game,” as they say.
The shuttle got us close to our tents but not close enough so we waddled the rest of the way. Found Romeo and dove into a much deserved rest for 8 hours, known as sleep.
Does this ride ever end?
I’m really not sure myself.