Ragbrai is the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. It's an event that my Dad has wanted to do for many years that we finally got to do this summer July 20-26. This is a 7 day bike ride across Iowa. Riders go from one overnight town to the next, stopping in every little town along the way. At each overnight town, you camp for the night. In the morning you pack up and head to the next town. Every year, towns all across Iowa bid to be a town that the ride goes through or an overnight town where the riders stay. It brings in alot of money to the local economies of the mostly small towns that the ride goes through. There are about 10,000 riders that do this every year. To read more, check out the website at http://ragbrai.com/.
We spent several months training for the event. I tried to get in 3-4 bike rides per week with long ones on the weekends. The hardest part is getting your body- especially your butt- used to sitting in the saddle for that long.
This year, the route was through Northern Iowa. The official distance was 417 miles, however I clocked it at 444 miles. My dad and I went with a charter group of about 150 people all from out of state. The charter found us a campsite every night and took our luggage there. Every morning we just needed to pack up our tent and take it to the truck. We quickly got into a routine. We left at between 6-6:30 every morning. We ate breakfast in the first or second town. We stopped in every town along the way at least to drink water. We got to our campsite around 3 every afternoon. We then showered, had a beer and headed into town and looked for the best church dinners (this usually were the ones that included all you can eat pasta for my dad and homemade pie for me). We went back to the campsite to have a beer and relax before heading to bed every night by around 10.
So here is the route along with some pictures:
Day 1 Rock Valley to Okoboji. 67.9 miles. My first corn and homemade pie of the trip. Won't be the last.
Day 2 Okojobi to Emmetsburg. 42 miles. My Dad needed to replace a wheel. We discovered the joy and abundance of watermelon.
Day 3 Emmetsburg to Forest City. 82 miles. Very hot day and the longest I have ever ridden! I was very proud of myself after 2 full days of riding before and also surprised that I wasn't more sore.
Day 4 Forest City to Mason City. 42.3 miles. Great day with no wind and a beautiful ride by Clear Lake. This was also my birthday- nice to have a light day of riding and I even got a little nap in!
Day 5 Mason City to Waverly. 68.3 miles. Beautiful day with light winds and rolling hills. Stops included decorated porta potties and giant tractors. The towns went all out for the riders and it was neat to see what each town was about.
Day 6. Waverly to Independence. 70.3 miles. Brutal day with stinging rain the first 50 miles and strong head winds most of the way. This was the toughest ride- both physically and mentally- I have ever done. But with 10 miles to go the sun came out and we stopped for freshly made peach ice cream.
Day 7. Independence to Guttenberg. 70.6 miles and we are done! Tradition is to dip the tires in the Mississippi at the end. What a great feeling!
I am so blessed to be able to do this with my Dad. Hopefully we can make the trip again!