What more is there to say?
As I planned, Friday we did our own highly-modified route. We offloaded 10 miles to Saturday (to leave from the farm both days), rode 33 back west past Marengo and then 33 back to the farm.
If went really well. We went out fast. I bet the West Amana to Marengo leg was the fastest of our whole week. We must have averaged 15 mph or more and hit 20 some of the time. That was fun.
We stopped under a tree in South Amana and talked with a lady (I'd guess she was about 80) who told us some of her life story: that she moved to Amana from Oklahoma (to get married, I think), that her new mother-in-law told her how everything was to be done and she later took over the whole house and that she wasn't crazy about being married and would never get married again.
I stopped in Oxford to have lunch at Augusta with my friend, Tina Riggan. We had a nice long lunch and then I biked the last 7 miles for that day to the farm. It was nice and easy and the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should have done more. The next day I wished I had.
In terms of nostalgia, I passed my elementary school and the fields where we used to play baseball twice this day.
Checked my bike tires and the front one was flat. Not much to do but pump it up and see how far I could go.
The first thing we had to do, route-wise, was make-up the almost 10 miles we hadn't ridden the day before by riding from the farm into Coralville. These were the biggest hills we had to contend with all day until we got to Davenport. But we were relatively fresh. We rode into IC on the IWV, turned left on Mormon Trek and right on Highway 6. We then turned left on Iowa Ave, left on Madison and right on Jefferson at the IMU to go up that hill on the north side of the Pentacrest. Another little, early challenge. Then we basically followed Rochester Ave. It became Herbert Hoover Highway and we rode it into West Branch.
Sentimental journey: passed by the high school I attended and, one block to the south, the hospital I was born in.
One of my better jokes of the trip: we were riding in and someone said 'Welcome to West Branch!' I said, 'Dang, I thought this was Davenport!' ;-)
Decided to go ahead and stop at a repair tent and check my tire. Tech found a staple-sized piece of metal in my tire, changed the tube and we were on our way. Didn't have to wait too long and it was worth the 12 bucks.
West Branch to Springdale to Moscow to Wilton was all fine. Stopped for water between Springdale and Moscow at a roadside vendor. Told him my mom was born in Cedar County and he knew the Suchomel name. Told him I was from Tiffin and he said his dad was a Schneider from Cosgrove.
Some bar (the name escapes me) did a good job of advertising their tent and Maid Rites, so that where we ate in Wilton. Christine and the twins met us and we had a pretty leisurely lunch.
Wilton to Durant to Walcott was the worst part of the day and one of the worst legs of the whole week. I think I was just completely tired by then. F58 was an unrelievedly straight and level road that was hot and I think we were fighting a little bit of a headwind, too. Sometimes you wish for a little hill to climb for the change and then the opportunity to coast a little. My mantra for day 7: anytime I can coast at 15 mph, I'm happy to do it.
The bad leg ended in Walcott with a freeze pop a little girl handed me as I rode by and a free water station at a fire hydrant. I felt totally refreshed.
Then, it was just a matter of finishing the last 14.2 miles to the Mississippi, watching over every hill and around every corner for signs of Davenport. I have to say, it felt like they took us through the worst streets in Davenport. On the outskirts, we ran into a bunch asphalt that was either fresh or it was runny because of the heat. Our tires picked up the tar.
There were also two, short but steep hills to finish off the trip. I polished them off and wished them good riddance!
Finished up the ride by finding Christine and the twins in the shade of a little tree and Al rolled in just a couple of minutes behind me. The line for dipping our front tires in the Mississippi was longer than we wanted to wait for, so we just walked over to the railing to get a picture by the river. But Al said (I think it was him) 'The water's almost close enough to touch' and I thought 'I can touch that water', so we lifted our bikes over the railing and dipped the front tires in the river.
I was so happy to be done with RAGBRAI!
As I've intimated before, RAGBRAI would have been much harder without Christine. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to experience it that way.
I love Iowa and RAGBRAI is a great way to see it. There were many nice moments and beautiful, big sky, green fields vistas.
We had great home stays and enjoyed visiting with Kevin and Cindy, the Carlsons outside of Carroll, Ken and Jeanine in Granger and my own family on the farm (though Dad was out of town).
Lance Armstrong was on the ride one day, the same day we rode up the biggest hill (the one I broke a spoke on). Wish I could have seen him fly up it. I'm not a huge Lance fan anymore, but there you have it.
Two posts about him:
Considered a titan in Iowa, Lance Armstrong returns to RAGBRAI today
More excitment in Carroll when Armstrong comes to town
And, if anyone want even more RAGBRAI information, there are about a hundred posts on their weblog.