Thursday, May 31, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I had a great training schedule set for this past weekend and week. Holiday weekend, so if I take off a bit early Friday and ride 40 miles, and then ride 65 Saturday, 65 Sunday and 45 Monday - that's four days in a row on the bike. That, followed by a 20-25 miler on Tuesday, Wednesday and today, and I would have felt like I was going to be ready for RAGBRAI. The biggest unknown for me about RAGBRAI, and therefore my biggest concern, is 7 consecutive days of riding. I have never done that before and so I don't know for sure how my body (spell that, "butt") will react. Even though my intended mileage would have been much less than the RAGBRAI mileage, it would have given me a good indicator. But forget that. It rained everyday - long and hard- and all I could manage was a 40 miler Sunday morning. I'll have to find time between now and the end of July to get multiple days in. If the weather gods will cooperate.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hows about Swine Trek(?!)? is the link to, yes, Swine Trek. I'm likely to do the 50 mile option on this Saturday, June 23 event (one can do 12, 25, 50, or 100 miles that day)...check out this website if you want to register. (Perhaps we could transit bikes up there together?)

The Trek starts at Pleasant Creek State Rec Area near Palo. I'm intensely curious about why it's named this way; there are no allusions to having to wear a pig hat, or eat sausage, or what...and, strangely enough, there is a CHICKEN dinner from 11-4 connected to it.

Separately, I've had knee issues of some concern this weekend. Last Thursday, my 19 mile ride on the Sac & Fox trail was ok until I did the quarter mile hill on East Post Rd. My knees hurt for two days afterwards. Yesterday, I did 46 miles on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail (it's cool to go under 380, and I've now been to Urbana!) But having had knee surgery last October, I'm starting to wonder. More work and more hills will answer whether I will actually be able to do RAGBRAI, now. We'll see.

All for now;


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lunchtime ride tomorrow (Friday)?

I ran into Lonnie at lunch and he said he was interested. Anyone else want to join us? I've never ridden with this CoeBRAI group so I'm excited.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CR ride this week?

It looks stormy, but...

would anyone have an interest in a 15-20 mile ride either Thursday noon or maybe Saturday morning? Unfortunately, I won't be in town on Friday and can't make the noon ride, but I agree with Lonnie that it's easier to ride with a group. Either way, I think we'd have to be flexible given the weather.

Info from the Veterans

Okay, I have been reading the posts for a couple of weeks now, so I can see what you guys in CR are doing for training. As a first time rider, however, I have some questions. 480 miles in seven days seems kind of intimidating. How fast (mph) do the average riders go? How long does it take to complete an average day - say 65 miles? Does everyone start together (at a horn or whistle) or do people just get up in the morning and take off when they are ready? Are the showers "communal"? Are they always cold? I've heard there is a "no drafting" rule, is that true (what-no pacelines)? Are there rest stops along the way with water, energy drinks, snacks, etc, (free or cash?) or are you on your own? Are there SAG vehicles on the course? Ride marshalls? And the two most important questions: What time do the parties start and do I have to keep up with Lance?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Birthday to my Giant OCR3

It seems like only yesterday when I was pedaling my newly purchased road bike home from the bike shop. It was actually two years ago today. Since that time, we've logged 1,666 miles together. That includes 933 miles in 2005, 633 in 2006 and 100 (so far) in 2007.

That I got to 100 in time for today's milestone is due to a 26-mile ride to Mount Vernon and back on Sunday. I'm really finding these group rides to be motivational as I'm not sure I'd ever bike narrow Mount Vernon Road without at least one partner to catch the license plate of the vehicle that clipped me.

On Sunday there were six of us, although Bob had to bail about five miles in when his pedal broke. I'm still curious how he made it back up that half-mile hill with only one functional pedal.

Katie, Andrew, Brian, Zach and I carried on to Cornell Ram country, breaking beneath the shade trees outside the Cornell athletics facility before returning to Cedar Rapids. My son, Zach, now understands what I mean about "uphill both ways."

I'm sure the ride was good for his psyche as he prepares for his first RAGBRAI. I tried to provide additional reassurance by noting that we'll be able to ride side-by-side and chat during the week-long bike ride across Iowa. In hindsight, I realize that may have been the worst thing I could have said.

We've always been close and I'm looking forward to the ultimate bonding experience. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if he uses his superior physical conditioning to maintain a comfortable separation from Rock Rapids to Bellevue. He's never been much of a chatter.

Iowa Boy on Coe bike writers

After a long career as a feature columnist and co-host of RAGBRAI for the Des Moines Register, Chuck Offenburger is now writing from his farm home near Cooper in Greene County, Iowa. His latest column features the May Term "Bicycle Writing" class being taught by Coe rhetoric instructor Kerrie Miller. Another version of the column can be found on the Raccoon River Valley Trail Web site.

As you're training for RAGBRAI, don't forget to brush up on the song "I Want to Go Back to Coe Again." If we run into Chuck along the way, and chances are good that we will, he'll expect us to sing it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Training tips from a RAGBRAI veteran: pear IS a shape

An absolutely gorgeous spring day greeted CoeBRAI riders Katie, Brian and myself as we met for a lunchtime ride along the Cedar River trail. I had planned to do 10 miles, but Katie couldn't get enough of the landfill odor, so we pressed on for 15.

I'm glad we did as it was the first time I had been on my bike since our group ride to Center Point on April 28. I applaud those of you who are racking up major miles already, but I'll resist the temptation to catch up.

A review of my RAGBRAI training patterns might offer encouragement to those of you struggling to find time with your bike. So far this year, I've logged just 73 miles. I too hope to reach 500 by RAGBRAI, but failure to do so won't keep me from participating.

At this time a year ago, I only had 61 miles under my belt. By the time RAGBRAI arrived, I had ridden just 148 miles. Consequently, I struggled, mightily at times, but I made it.

Two years ago, I didn't even have a bike at this point. My first five miles came on the ride home from the bike shop on May 21. I rode nearly every day from that point on, often only from home to Coe and back, and logged 380 miles before losing my RAGBRAI virginity.

I'm not suggesting anyone shun training. Of all the things that will influence your enjoyment of RAGBRAI, training is the only one you can control. You don't select the route, you can't control the weather, and you can't will the shower water warm.

But if you can't log 100-miles a week or you can't find any hills, you can still ride RAGBRAI. You'll see all variety of ages, shapes and sizes among RAGBRAI participants. Among the 10,000+ riders, I'm pretty sure Lance Armstrong will be the only Tour de France winner.

When you dip your tires in the Mississippi River on July 28 -- signifying the completion of a week-long, 476.6 mile journey -- the feeling of accomplishment will overwhelm you.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy Bike to Work Day!

I just discovered that May 18 is Bike to Work Day in Iowa. Was planning to do that anyway -- since I don't have 16 places to be -- but it's good to know I'll be part of a larger movement.

The forecast looks ideal for the first (finally!) of our Friday noon rides. Katie, Brian and I have committed to it. If you're in the area, join us at noon outside Clark Racquet Center on the lovely Coe campus. We'll shoot for 10 miles on the Cedar River Trail. Lockers and showers are available in the Racquet Center.

A movement appears to be taking hold for a Driving Directions from 1821 Bever Ave Se, Cedar Rapids, IA to Cornell College, 600 1st St W, Mt Vernon, IA">26-mile ride (round trip) to Cornell Ram land on Sunday. Tentative plans call for departure from Map of 1821 Bever Ave Se Cedar Rapids, IA 52403-2631, US">my house at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Locals are also encouraged to check out Hawkeye Bicycle Association, which hosts regular rides of varying degrees of difficulty throughout the year. One need not be a member to ride with this group, which includes many Kohawks.

Out-of-state members of Team CoeBRAI are on their own for training rides, but I do have some information for anyone planning to ship their bike to Cedar Rapids. Please contact me and I'll hook you up with a local bike shop with strong ties to Coe.

Today Kate and I completed the last of our calls to our overnight hosts at six of seven stops and I'm quite pleased to report that dinner will be provided at three stops -- Tuesday in Hampton courtesy of Tess and Henry Wieck (parents of Joe '04), Wednesday in Cedar Falls courtesy of the Coe Alumni Office in cooperation with Barb and Al Poe (parents of Anson '08) and Thursday in Independence courtesy of Coe Admission staffer and parent Mary Ohl.

Also hosting are David Springer '94 in Rock Rapids, Tarrel Zweibahmer Story '93 in Spencer and Colleen Ries '04 at her parents' home in Dyersville. The generosity and enthusiasm of all of our hosts leaves me most optimistic about our approaching journey.

I shouldn't be surprised, given my RAGBRAI experiences the past two years, but I never want to take hospitality for granted either.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cornell when?

Lonnie & all,

I'd be interested in a ride to Cornell if it could be Sunday afternoon (5/20). If that's not preferred by others, no biggie; but I'd rather ride in a pack to those badlands...

Although the RAGBRAI site suggests training 650 miles in advance of the ride, I'm setting a goal of 500 miles. (I'm at 103 miles right now.) I did the Hiawatha-Center Point (26 miles) ride again on Monday night, in 2 hours, 8 minutes. I'm not racing anyone, but want to keep track of my own fitness by doing a limited amount of timing on identical routes. According to, I burned 1820 calories(!) - a bit hard to believe, but that's what the website said.

I'm a little worried about not doing any hills so far, but will start looking for them in June. I am currently planning to do Hiawatha to Brandon (54 miles roundtrip) on June 16, ideally starting at 9am, and being done no later than 4pm, averaging just under 10 mph while riding, and taking up to 90 minutes for lunch! I'd welcome company for that.

All for now; it's good to hear from folks everywhere, too. I really like that Coehawk icon, too, on the main page of this blog - and hope you work that more prominently into next years' jersey!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Too legit to quit

Finally, I'm a number. I entered my data into the RAGBRAI lottery results page for the umpteenth time tonight and got this result:

Congratulations LONNIE ZINGULA, your wristband number is listed below. Please use this number on any correspondence with RAGBRAI. See you in July!

We're in folks!

The RAGBRAI info went on to say "credentials packets with wristbands and any jerseys ordered will be mailed to the Group Contact (aka me) late in May for distribution to the members of the group."

Also: "If you cannot go on RAGBRAI and must cancel, please email your request for a refund to before June 12. It will take approximately 2-3 weeks for a refund to be processed. There will be a $25 administrative charge per applicant."

Please copy me on any such cancellation notices. I'm hoping there will be none, but understand life's curve balls.

RAGBRAI preview?

Monday, May 7, 2007

In due time

I'm really pleased to see some of you starting to use this blog. I think it's a great way to communicate and get to know one another. Soon enough I'll begin offering packing advice (less is more), training tips (if I can make it, anyone can) and other words of wisdom (if a stick gets lodged between your spokes, get off the bike to remove it) for the RAGBRAI virgins among us.

Meanwhile, I'm tending to more urgent matters, like ensuring we are registered. I lost a lot of sleep over last week's lottery scare, but all's well that ends well. We got through Coe's commencement yesterday and I am anxious to embrace the slower pace of May Term and summer. This week I'm focusing on finalizing our jersey orders. If you haven't yet done so, please click on the CoeBRAI tab and select "jersey order." Orders will be submitted on Friday to ensure delivery in time for RAGBRAI.

Kate Rose and I have also begin contacting our hosts by telephone to get a better feel for what they have to offer and what their expectations are. I shouldn't have been surprised that people in the Coe family would be so generous. Iowa hospitality really shines on RAGBRAI, and the hosts we've talked with so far are fired up to make our stays in their towns and on their lawns as comfortable as possible.

The official Coe alumni gathering will be held July 25 in Cedar Falls, but we're also covered for dinner the next night in Independence. Our hosts there are planning a barbeque pork loin feast for Team CoeBRAI. I'm sure it goes without saying that we'll show our appreciation to all our hosts by respecting their property.

I haven't had much opportunity to get on my bike since four of us rode to Central City, but I hope to rectify that very soon. Friday's rain scared me off, but I'm ready to try it again this week. Feel free to join whoever shows up outside Clark Racquet Center at noon. I'm also free Saturday and open to suggestions for group rides. How about we pay a visit to our rivals at Cornell?

P.S. As for the question of how much cash to carry, it depends on who you ask and how you experience RAGBRAI. $30/day is a good ballpark figure, from my experience.

Greetings from Kentucky

Sorry I can't train with y'all

I am really looking forward to the ride this year. I was in the class of '77 and now have a nephew attending Coe. Jordon Gunn. A great deal has changed at Coe and the surrounding area (I hear the Maid Rite is gone) but there is a great deal that ties me back. One of the folks I ride with attended Coe a number of years before I did but we found that we had actually had the same dorm room. It really is a small world.

While I am out riding around Kentucky and Indiana but I regret not being able to train with the rest of the team. I grew up in Newton an did do some rides around there last year but probably won't get up to Iowa again until RAGBRAI. I will need lots of advice about what to bring (and not to bring) as I don't want to look like a Coe Freshman again with a U-haul backing up to the dorm.

I plan to ride the route this year on a bike that my father rode on RAGBRAI about 30 years ago. (Of course he was smarter than I am because he had all the gears on it and I have since turned it into a fixie.) I've only done 4 centuries this year and feel very out of shape (mostly because yesterday's ride had 8,000 feet of climbing) but think that I can be ready to go by July.

Is anyone else planning to do the Century loop on Tuesday? Count me in!

Please don't hold back on any advice on what to expect and how to prepare as I'm sure preparation is the key to a positive RAGBRAI experience. ie. Is $30 a day about right for food and extras?


Friday, May 4, 2007

Greetings from Texas

My wife, Gail, and I may be the only COEBRAI riders from Texas, but we hope to represent our adopted State well. Since there are no hills here in Houston (other than freeway overpasses) we drive 50 to 100 miles on the weekends to the famous "Hill County" of Central Texas to get our hill training in. When they say this year's RAGBRAI is the flattest ever, we know that is a relative term, so we are not changing our training regimen at all. We are very excited to be participating with the Coe team this year and hope training goes well for all of you. See you in July! Go Kohawks! Go Hawkeyes! Hook-em Horns!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


I just received a phone call -- a phone message actually -- from RAGBRAI officials saying that Team CoeBRAI is in! I'll have wristbands and credentials in hand in 7-10 business days. Now get on your bikes and ride!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The waiting game

I just got off the phone with RAGBRAI officials and learned that we were not selected in the wrist band lottery. Fear not, however, as we are on the waiting list and the person I spoke with was very encouraging about our chances. Apparently, we're fairly high on this waiting list and, based on typical cancellations, it's "highly unlikely" that we won't get in. So keep on training.

Meanwhile, I've only received jersey orders from half of you. If you haven't yet placed your order, please click on the CoeBRAI tab and select "jersey order." Orders will be submitted May 11 to ensure delivery in time for RAGBRAI.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Lottery: No news is good news

At least that's what I'm hoping after being unable to locate any of our wristband numbers with today's release of the lottery results. Don't panic -- I'm not. I've got an e-mail and a phone call into RAGBRAI officials. Perhaps it's only individual lottery results that are released on the Web site and groups are handled differently. I'll let you know what I learn as soon as I learn it. Meanwhile, we continue to collect jersey orders and plan for our excellent adventure. To that end, area CoeBRAIers -- and Coesters too -- are invited to join as at noon Friday for lunch hour ride on the Cedar River trail.