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Friday, July 25, 2014

RAGBRAI

      This post is going to be hard to get across but let me try to convey it to you. For those reading that are not familiar with RAGBRAI, it is the Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, started in 1973 as a 6 day ride across the state by two Des Moines Register columnists who thought they were inviting just a few friends along but about 120 people made the trek that year. The next year there were 2000 then the number grew to 10,000.  This year it is said the number is more like 18,000 riders from every state and many foreign countries. The enormity and scope of the amount of all those people on bicycles is whats hard to convey in pictures or words.  It's like a Jimmy Buffet concert, " you had to be there".  We, meaning Bill Hamilton, Ruth Glick,
Cindy and myself started in Des Moines and rode to the start of the ride in Rock Valley then rode to Mason City for a total of 526 miles. If we were to just do Rock Valley to Guttenberg not riding from Des Moines we would have done 468 miles.  On the way we stayed in motels. Once on the ride we stayed in homes of people in host towns that Ruth had set up. The towns really open their arms for the riders, and of course the riders spend lots of money in the local economy. Upon arriving into Rock Valley the welcoming we received was an emotional experience with people lining the streets, sitting on porches waving at us like we were dignitaries or rock stars. And this was the response in all the pass through towns and host over night towns. Best described as a rolling party of 20,000 people with the same interest feasting on all kinds of food and drink, lots of beer, brat, bbq, pie, ice cream, burritos, coffee, fruit, pickles, pie, did I say pie and live music in every town.  Our last town of Mason City featured Bret Michaels.  The town of Boyden is famous for pork as a pig theme was everywhere.
This sculpture in Rock Valley was the best metal work I've seen, the detail incredible.
 It wasn't possible to see or do everything in these towns and finish the days riding.
The ride its self was blessed with the best weather of all that Bill could remember. Aside from some head winds and one day of heat it was perfect.  To crest a hill and look both ways and see nothing but bicycles as far as one could see taking up the whole road which was closed to traffic was an unbelievable site.  The Iowa State Patrol blocked traffic at intersections and had music playing over the cruiser loud speaker as we ride by.  This was a bucket list thing for me and I'm glad for such an incredible experience.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

      Woke up this Sunday morning first to a clap of thunder then the rain started falling, so far not drenching but steady.  Tomorrow we leave the camper and the dogs and head for Iowa and RAGBRAI.  The dogs will stay at a friends house and the camper will stay in Cindy's brother's driveway.
      Lately our riding has been on the 2 urban trails around here in Olathe KS, the Indian Creek, and the Mill Creek Stream Way.  Both these trails are full of sharp turns, steep ups and downs, going under highways and interstates, through tunnels under roads and up over the creek and down again.  All this makes for good fun on trikes but not necessarily long mile training for a tour.  Guess we'll do that on the way to RAGBRAI. 
Here is a pic of Cindy climbing one of the hills on whats locally called the mountain pass.  Kind of like an old time roller coaster where you chug up to the top to be let loose to speed down the other side and up over the next hill with momentum, then into a sweeping turn  where you better lean in to carve the corner.  Whats so cool is there is lots of this kind of riding here. No long pedal, pedal, pedal in a straight line.  Oh and it's shady most places.  Makes 40 miles a fun fest and it's always great to cross state lines on a trail, this being Indian Creek and KS/MO.
      That's what we're up to lately and don't know if we'll have time or wifi to BLOG during RAGBRAI.  If not we'll catch up when through.  Time for coffee. 
      







Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hey folks! Wow how time flies. Here we are off on our summer sojourn. Where does the time go? We had such a great winter and spring at the Bike Shop. We met so many interesting people this year. We are so lucky to have our wonderful bike trail that brings people in from all over the world. Now we are off to explore some of the trails we have heard about from our customers!
 We started the trip just trying to  get through Atlanta, that's why we left on a Sunday. Our goal was to get just North of it. We found a Passport America park in Adairsville,GA that would be our destination. You know it just takes longer when you are pulling a camper and you have 2 dogs. Seems like you never pass up a Rest Area.
Luna and Jax are great little travelers and they seem to be enjoying traveling too.
  We made it to our very small little campground and grabbed the very last space they had. We got there just in the nick of time, a storm was rolling in. Very dark clouds along with thunder and lightning. It passed pretty quickly. However a couple of hours later we got lots of rain with more thunder and lightning. Guess who ended up in our bed?? Guess the dogs don't like storms.
 We got up early and got off headed to an unknown destination. We just knew we wanted to stop early enough to relax before our next milestone...Getting through St. Louis.  We are on our way to Olathe, KS to visit my family  for a couple of weeks before we head to Urbandale, IA to do RAGBRAI with our friends, Bill & Ruth. My very first bike tour. How great is that??
 We ended up stopping at a place we had stopped before. At Whittington Woods Campground in IL. Near Rend Lake. This place has to be in the top 2 of all campgrounds we have ever stopped at. When you turn in you are greeted with a beautiful garden.
After you get regestered you get 6 recently laid free range eggs! We had not realized that they do that for everyone. Last time we were there we just thought we were special. Well now we know that  the folks that own this place are very special and sure know how to welcome you. They also gave us some parsley, chives  and a lovely just picked onion. Don't you know we will be stopping there every time we are in the area.
After getting hooked up we walked around the grounds to enjoy all the beautiful flowers and the new dog park.
 We were all excited when a new bright and shiny Airstream pulled in next to us.  Of course  Regis could hardly wait to talk to them to ask them about the camper, you know like how long have you had it, how much does it weigh and the most important of all...does it have a walk around bed?
 The couple  much to our surprise were young. Why do we think you have to be old to have an Airstream??? They also had a big friendly dog. We got to talking to them and asking where they were from, they had New York plates. They were from New York City. That was also surprising. I don't think of City folks as campers either. These young folks were just shaking up all my old idealism. Well then to top it off during our conversation we found out the gal was an Actress! Well for heavens sake that is about the last thing I would expect, to be camped next to an Actress from New York City....Regis asked her if she was ever in anything we may have heard of and her reply is well I am on Law and Order right now. I think we both felt kind of stupid at that point. Even though we don't watch TV we are familiar with that show. Anyway her name is Kelli Giddish. She was so sweet and friendly. She was on her way to Missouri to watch her father (who is the same age as me) compete in a Kayak race on the Missouri River. Aren't we off to a great start on this trip!!
  We made it safely through the dreaded St. Louis and are now camped in my brothers driveway.  We made it to our favorite little coffee shop yesterday Kansas Coffee Connection where we met up with my Dad and one of my oldest dearest friends (Nancy and her husband James) It's so fun to be my brothers neighbor! We get to have driveway happy hours every night and catch up on all sorts of things.
 Today we get to ride the Indian Creek Trail. We better get some miles under our belt for RAGBRAI or we will be needing the SAG wagon to cart us around. 
Now I will save the best news for last.  We woke up to 52 degree weather! Now it just doesn't get any better than that. It is usually so freaking hot when I am in KS.  78 for the predicted High.  OMG