Thursday, July 28

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 5

Today was my best day of RAGBRAI this year. The sky was overcast most of the day, which really made a big difference. We also had a little rain shower when we were in Colfax. Maybe most crucial: I didn't have any mechanical problems.

Today's map

We basically started at the beginning of the official route and ended at the end, for a change. It was the third biggest day of climbing (3,202 ft), but comparatively short (57.5 miles).

Preview of tomorrow

the map

Since our family farm is on the route tomorrow, but we're staying here tonight about an hour east of Grinnell, we're going to change our approach tomorrow. We're basically going to ride the route backwards for about half of the mileage we want to do tomorrow (I think the total will be about 65 miles) and then come back and finish at the farm (without doing the last 10 miles into Coralville. Clear?

(Since we're going to do an extra 10 on Saturday, we can cut off 10 tomorrow.)

Wednesday, July 27

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 4

Something I neglected to mention yesterday was how much we owe to Christine and how grateful I am to her for all her support on the ride.

I had a great beginning to this day. Took ibuprofen for my bottom this morning and was able to pedal like I thought I could.

Today's map

I am very motivated to cycle myself out of traffic. So, leaving Luther and leaving Slater, I really got a great start (for me). Was probably riding in the 20s. Even tagged onto the back of a pace line leaving Slater and was able to hang with them for quite a while because they were actually going too slowly.

Plus, we had an overcast morning that just made it so much nicer to ride.

Going into Elkhart, I felt my rear tire start to thump on every rotation. So I rode it into town and stopped at the first repair tent. Sure enough, tire had blown out (it kind of takes on a zig zag shape, maybe a 'cord' breaks?). No line, got the repair done and headed out, so it was the best possible scenario for needing to change a tire. (I had actually noticed a partial cut in that tire when we left this morning.)

But then, just a few minutes to the west of Elkhart, the same tube blew out. That was really frustrating. I am so tired of repairing this stupid bike. (We had actually left the route at this point to just bike back to our home stay in Granger.) I could have tried to hitch with a support vehicle back into town, or even had Christine drive me back into town and get the tube fixed and finished my ride, but I just didn't care anymore.

I'll try again tomorrow and I'll try to push through some breakage and discomfort, but I just don't care enough this time to push myself to ride all of the real route or all of the real mileage.

Tomorrow's route

Altoona to Grinnell. 57.5 miles. 3,202 feet of climb.

Tuesday, July 26


Ok, first night of Internet since we started. I know many of my fans have been dying for information, so let me try to catch you up a little ;-)

Daily Maps

A little gnarlier data, if desired

First day: climbed 4,298 feet, heat index was over 100. 50 people were treated for heat exhaustion (that we heard of). Felt ok.

Second day: Had a nice, overcast morning to keep temperatures down. Then I broke a spoke in the first town, Elk Horn. It was the best place to break a spoke, but still a pain. Started to fade at the end, but had a nice conversation with a woman from Waverly as we rode into Carroll, so that helped distract me.

Third day: uncomfortable, bad day on the bike. Same, basic heat. My bottom was really sore most of the day, then my little toes started to fall asleep and I had trouble keeping my hands comfortable. Had to take longer breaks. Then, as I was climbing the toughest hill we face this year, I broke a spoke. I doubted more than once that I would be able to finish it without walking, but was able to do it. Not sure how much the broken spoke contributed. The wheel goes out of true and starts to rub against the brake (for those of you who don't know). Christine was able to meet me at a crossroads pretty shortly thereafter.

So then I had to go in to Urbandale tonight (we're staying with Christine's aunt in Granger for the next two nights) to get the spoke repaired. The guys at Bike World were great and I really appreciate them!

Preview of tomorrow, Day Four: similar to today in climb (just a couple big hills). Short: just over 56 miles to ride. We'll see how I do and if I can get a little more comfortable on the bike. I feel like I've got the legs for RAGBRAI, but I'm just having trouble being at ease. Not sure what's different this time. The bike is technically higher quality. I did more training this time, like 100 or 200 miles more. On the downside, I'm 7 years older and 15 pounds heavier. Are those two factors really making it that much worse? I don't know. It's driving me crazy.