Sunday, July 26, 2015

Day 7: Coralville to Davenport

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with RAGBRAI. The 43rd edition of the Register's Annual GreWat Bike Ride Across Iowa -- the 11th for Team CoeBRAI -- culminated Saturday at the Mississippi River in Davenport.

But for CoeBRAI veteran Greg Barnett, who had a conflict that required he bike back to Cedar Rapids instead, and rookie Allison Carr '05, who had a close encounter with her dad's bike less than 10 miles from the finish, 20 Team CoeBRAI bikers pedaled the final 68 miles from Coralville. 

Meeting at a predetermined location a couple miles from the end of the ride, Judy Floy '77 led us to the designated spot for the celebratory dipping of the front tires. It was Judy's eighth straight RAGBRAI with the Coe team, she will proudly tell you.

The sharpest team on the roads across Iowa in our "Road To Waubeek" jerseys, Team CoeBRAI included 16 veterans, 15 men and seven women. We averaged 51 years of age and ranged from 32 to 63. In addition to 12 Iowans, riders hailed from North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Missouri and Washington, D.C. We welcomed three father and son/daughter teams.

We ate well, we slept poorly, and we biked nearly 500 miles over seven days from Iowa's eastern border at Sioux City to the banks of the Mississippi in the Quad Cities. We even biked into Illinois -- across a metal path along the Arsenal Bridge -- to load for the van-ride home.

Mark your calendar for RAGBRAI registration opening on Nov. 15. The 44th is scheduled for July 24-30, 2016.

Day 6: Various routes from Hiawatha to Coralville

With team members spread throughout town during the nearby Hiawatha overnight, riders took different routes to Friday's destination in Coralville.

Some followed the official route, 65 miles north and east of Cedar Rapids through Whittier and Springville. Others biked directly east of Cedar Rapids to Mount Vernon for a 50-mile day. Still others took the Cedar River Trail south from Cedar Rapids to Ely, picking up the route in Solon for a 35-mile day. Regardless of route, none avoided morning showers or steep hills around the Coralville Reservoir. 

Except for me, that is. With my wife and support crew member, Lisa, hobbled by a swollen ankle and a friend in need of a car driven to Coralville, I opted to give my tired legs the day off. Sometimes, being captain requires such sacrifices.

The day off allowed me to enjoy more time with our Coralville hosts, Sean Pearl '04 and Meredith Dobson Pearl '05. In keeping with the Coralville theme, the Pearls rolled out the red carpet for Team CoeBRAI. Thanks, Sean and "Dish," for making our last night in tents so pleasant.

We really hit the jackpot this year with six hosts providing dinner. A big thank you goes out from all of us to alumni Bryan Boettcher '03 and Beth Rohlena Boettcher '05 in Sioux City, Erin Toomer Smith '99 in Storm Lake and Sean and Meredith in Coralville as well as parents Jeff and Chris Donnelly in Fort Dodge, Steven and Lisa Sunkle in Eldora, and Carol and Dave Wirth in Cedar Falls. Throw in a night at Coe for some riders during the Hiawatha overnight and you've got the total Kohawk package.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 5: Cedar Falls to Hiawatha and beyond

Kohawks literally came home today. With a Throwback Thursday route of 70 miles from Cedar Falls to Hiawatha -- Cedar Rapids' neighbor to the north -- several members of Team CoeBRAI spent the night at Coe College.

The group of nine housed in Armstrong Hall included six alumni. For at least David Schramm '05 and George Ebert '74, it was a throwback to their time at Coe as undergraduates. Several others live in Cedar Rapids and were able to enjoy a brief respite from tent camping.

After the shortest ride of the week on Wednesday -- 58 miles from Eldora to Cedar Falls -- the team enjoyed a peaceful night at the home of Coe parents Dave and Carol Wirth (the first in CoeBRAI history to host from out of the country). It was back over 70 miles for the fourth time this week on Thursday as riders mounted their aluminum ponies for the ride to Linn County. 

Friday it's on to Coralville, a 29-mile drive by motor vehicle but a hilly 65-mile circuit on RAGBRAI. Along the way, we'll pass through Mount Vernon, home to Coe's historic rival Cornell College. Stay tuned.