NOTES ON RAGBRAI 2009
Friday 17 July 2009 Tullahoma to Platteville,WI with Jeff Moen. Stayed with Mr and Mrs Moen, Jeff’s parents. Lasagna dinner with Dennis/Lindy and Donald/Carla.
Saturday 18 July 2009 Platteville to Council Bluffs, IA. Nice breakfast at the Moen’s. Picked up Lindy’s nephew Michael Schmitt and left my car at Lindy’s sister Susan’s house. Transferred to Dennis’ ChryslerAspen. Lindy was crammed in the third row seat surrounded by our stuff, but she didn’t complain. Three bad traffic jams but we enjoyed close view of several wind turbine farms. Dick Healy called from Ames requesting help in toting their stuff. They had way too much with five people, four bikes and other gear. We were already well past theAmes turnoff and couldn’t help.
Drove toCouncil Bluffs. Ate at ribs place near ride starting point. Jam packed. Stayed with Ed Martin. Met the other part of Winston’s Wag, our RAGBRAI team.
|Linda Moen||Dick Healy|
|Dennis Moen||Katie Healy [Dick’s daughter and Linda’s niece]|
|Jeff Moen||Connor Healy [Dick’s daughter and Linda’s niece]|
|Bob Crook||Justine Bangert [friend of Connor]|
|Michael Schmitt [Linda’s nephew]||Ryan Scarlino [support/friend of Katie]|
Sunday 19 July 2009 Council Bluffsto Red Oak 53 mi. 3684 ft climb
Discovered I had left my medicines at Platteville, panic to get replacements at Walgreen’s. Got late start as result. Weather sunny and hot. Discovered early that Iowa has many taxing hills. Very long wait for mediocre “smoothies”. Vowed not to patronize any long lines. Jam packed first pass-through town—literally had to squeeze through on foot. After this it got very hot. A woman gave me a Power Bar mid afternoon which revived me. Vowed to pack PBs from then on. Met Jeff and Dennis at meeting town—talented karaoke artist there. Saddle fell off during last 5 miles. Bought used saddle for $20. Saddle bag didn’t fit. Saddle worked fine for the rest of the ride but had to put spare tube and tools in jersey pocket.. We left all the bikes with a cooperative team in Red Oak and went to our motel in Corning. KCC Motel not much to brag about. Jeff/my room out back by a silo. Ate at Pizza/Italian restaurant in Corning. [Spaghetti]
Monday 20 July 2009 Red Oak to Greenfield 73 mi. 5096 ft climb
Breakfast at Kay’s in Corning. Weather cool and drizzly all day. Good conditions for a long leg. Meeting town was Corning—lots of good food. Jeff busted 2 spokes on ride, mechanic at finish installed new ones. (There’s plenty of mechanical support available from many shops.) Drove from finish back to Corning in a driving rain. Ate at Subway in Corning. Jeff astounded all by finishing off a foot-long while the rest of us were getting served. Dennis wore his “No, I’m not Lance” T-shirt. I need to get one! Jeff and I were joined for the night by Phil Friedman, a friend of Dick Healy’s. He was riding only Sunday thru Tuesday.
Tuesday 21 July 2009 Greenfieldto Indianola 77 mi. 4470 ft climb
Low 60’s and raining fairly hard at start. I got very cold with the shakes after riding less than a mile. I stood down for about an hour. Riding alone, restarted and gradually started feeling better, then very good. Farm Boys breakfast burrito was a lifesaver. Caught up with Jeff at meeting town. Gave Lindy my rain coat since it looked to be sunny from then on. Had a home made ice cream cone comfortably sitting in the shade of a tent. Finished fairly strongly into Indianola (Overton Funeral Home). Last one to finish, I was greeted with a standing ovation by the rest of the team having drinks on the shady patio! Excellent stopping place. Clean, lots of room and electrical outlets, nice shower, cold drinks greeted us. Toured the square [two slices of pizza and two home made pies, (one rhubarb) at the Methodist church)] and retired early. The team had the floor of a very spacious funeral parlor. The owner, Jeff Overton, was a fellow RAGBRAI rider, very congenial, and provided nice continental breakfast.
Wednesday 22 July 2009 Indianola toChariton44 mi. 2182 ft climb
Rode all day with Lindy, who swapped roles for the day with Dennis. Met whole team for lunch at Milo, Radar’s (from MASH*) home town. Excellent burrito there. Sunny all day, nice short ride. Linda good companion. Stayed at Baptist church, very crowded, few restrooms, no showers. Jeff and I used Judy’s bath cloths. Others went down the street for $5 public showers. All went to Sacred Heart church for real good lasagna dinner. Lots of time on hands, sat around a lot in our folding chairs, toured the square, saw good unicycle act and hula hoop demonstration. Air mattress worked well. In totally black sleeping room ran smack into someone returning from rest room!
Thursday 23 July 2009 Chariton toOttumwa 77 mi. 3388 ft climb
Sunny and hot. Stayed with Jeff all day. Saw interesting airport with biplane giving rides at $60 each. Saw many ultralights frolicking around and probably taking RAGBRAI pictures. Felt pretty strong. In fact had no aches or pains the entire trip. Skipped the optional 100 mi loop but our 20-something girls all did it. (We found out later that Justine’s longest ride ever before was only 35 miles!) Supposed to stay at closed KFC but lucky (and enterprising) Lindy snagged the only open motel in the area for half of our team. Nice room, very nice pool, spa and sauna. Had good meal (liver (overcooked) and onions with huge salad bar including broccoli). The KFC part of our team joined us for the pool/eating. Nice breakfast next morning at adjacent restaurant. Left all bikes at KFC overnight.
Friday 24 July 2009 OttumwatoMount Pleasant 76 mi. 2841 ft climb
Very hot windy and sunny. Riding with Jeff till Brighton, got very hot. Decided to skip final 25 miles. Others said this was a good idea. Drove with Lindy over SAG course to Mt.Pleasant. Had a strange encounter with a local character trying to get directions out of town. Lindy could not get away from him quick enough, and then we completely disregarded his directions which were very confusing. Nice home for our final night with Tim/M. Miller. Lindy/Tim bought brats, etc. for cookout. Took our only group photos with our official Winston’s Wag T-shirts. Big gang downstairs for sleeping so I went up to the living room floor. Wakened by Dennis brewing coffee.
Saturday 25 July 2009 Mount Pleasant to Burlington 43 mi. 1145 ft climb
Last riding day, fairly short. Sunny, hot with some interesting scenery, hills, trees, lakes. Big descent into Burlington. Skipped traditional wheel dipping ceremony in favor of getting going. Met rest of team and my car which had been delivered by Susan. Jeff and I ate in Galesburg IL Burger King and got reservation at Mt Vernon IL Hampton Inn (using Navi sysem—works great!). Great Cracker Barrel meal. Motel very nice with pool, spa and very nice continental breakfast with 5 kinds of coffee.
Sunday 26 July 2009 Driving home fromIllinois
Met 60ish couple who rode a tandem with wife piloting who were RAGBRAI vets. They had also done Mt.Mitchell and thought it was not too bad—finishing with a sub 7 hr time! Hit the road about 8 am. Smooth trip toTullahoma. Jeff badgered Judy and then took off for Huntsville.
General Impressions of RAGBRAI and Iowa
- Crazy costumes for ego gratification or team identification.
- Crazy bikes, ditto. See Sail/bike, banana bike, boom box bikes.
- 16,000 bikes are mighty impressive on one stretch of road. Traffic density made me very nervous at times. Strict attention to safety imperative. I was afraid of bobbling while drinking so I stopped to drink or eat. All riders careful to announce their intentions to leave or rejoin the crowd—“rider off, rider on”.
- Iowa in the south is VERY hilly and the roads mostly go straight up and down the hills with little curvature.
- Generally you can see for miles, mostly corn fields. Sameness of the view can wear on you (“how much more of this is there? Are we having fun yet?”)
- Bikes generally had the whole road although officially the roads were open to auto traffic. Most of the time we had total right of way, being waved through intersections, etc.
- Was impressed by starting and stopping each day’s mob. Each bike just started from wherever they had stayed and joined a gradually increasing stream of bikes until it was out of town and on the road. Stopping was the reverse, with each rider peeling off to wherever he was staying. No way could you get that mob to have a mass start.
- Hundreds of vendors traveled along with the tour and set up new each day. One of my favorites was the watermelon guy. Another was the Iowa National Guard with their FREE water fill-ups.
- Infamous rumble strips which are deepV-shaped grooves cut into the concrete. Very hard to see and extremely treacherous if you got caught in them.
- Very little livestock in view—nothing but corn. (Thanks to the Ethanol program?)
- Many unpaved and extremely dusty rural roads.
SOME NOTES OFF THE WEB
July 19-25, 2009
Perhaps the “coolest” RAGBRAI ever! That was the general consensus among the riders. Of course, we are talking temperatures. RAGBRAI riders usually dread the four H’s, but not this year. Yes, there were hills and occasional headwinds, but the heat and humidity took the year off.
RAGBRAI started its 442 mile journey in Council Bluffs with a perfect 70 degrees for the traditional RAGBRAI Expo staged at the Mid-America Center. Those in search of a tire dip took a short ride to the Missouri River and traversed the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge that crosses over to Omaha. The evening festivities concluded with a performance by the Barenaked Ladies, who performed an ad-libbed song, “Rocking RAGBRAI”.
RAGBRAI riders were treated to 52 miles of rolling hills as they navigated the Loess Hills on their way to Red Oak. One of the highlights in Red Oak was a dust devil twister snatching up a tent and depositing it 50 feet up, on top of a church steeple. Stanton’s children invited riders to join them for a traditional Swedish dance on stage during Monday’s 72-mile day that ended in charming Greenfield. Drizzling rain didn’t dampen the spirit as riders enjoyed the tiny Main Street Iowa community, the smallest of the overnight towns on this year’s RAGBRAI.
On Tuesday, skillet tossing in Macksburg delighted the masses and one of the famous Covered Bridges of Madison County was a great photo opportunity in St. Charles as riders trekked some 77 miles to Indianola. This was Indianola’s first time to host RAGBRAI, home of RAGBRAI legend Clarence Pickard. Indianola pulled out all of the stops including hot air balloons, a jet flyover and entertainment by the Johnny Holm Band.
What might be remembered as one of the most enjoyable days in RAGBRAI lore, the 44-mile tailwind-aided ride seemed like a half-day to most folks. The community of Milo was highly entertaining with their M.A.S.H. themed stop and Lacona soaked up the rest of the afternoon of sunshine before riders arrived in Chariton. The town square of Chariton was packed with RAGBRAIers until the wee hours. Later in those wee hours a quick hail storm wallopedChariton before giving way to sunshine.
Thursday’s 77-mile ride to Ottumwafeatured the Karras Loop around Rathbun Lake. Several thousand riders opted for the 100 miles while other enjoyed the tiny hamlets along the route including Bethlehem, Iconium and the state of Iowa’s new Honey Creek Resort. After dodging a few storms, riders had a blast at Ottumwa’s water park, the Beach, before concluding the evening at the Bridgeview Center for great tunes and a laser light show. Mount Pleasant was Friday’s destination as riders stopped for great hospitality in Packwood and Whoopie Pie in Brighton along the 75-mile jaunt. The Old Threshers Ground saw campers scampering for cover as severe storms approached before miraculously changing direction to everyone’s delight.
The final day was a short 43 miles to Burlington to the traditional tire dip in the mighty Mississippi River. Riders were challenged to rattle the “Snake” with a ride to the top of Burlington’s Snake Alley, the “Crookedest Street in the World”. The day was marred with the tragic loss of Dr. Donald Myers ofRolla,Missouri during the day’s ride.
RAGBRAI XXXVII will be a ride to remember for great towns and those remarkably cool temps.
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