Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Catching up from Hampton

Greetings loyal readers.

Sorry we've been out of touch, but Internet connectivity and cell phone access have been a bit of a challenge. We crossed I-35 today, which should make all the difference. Our hosts in Hampton, Coe parents Henry and Tess Wieck, really know how to throw out the red carpet.

All food tastes better on RAGBRAI, but the burgers Henry grilled rival any I've had in recent memory. Not that it was at all necessary or expected, a keg of beer was awaiting our arrival. Youngest daughter Jamie, even made a CoeBRAI flag (see photo) that we all signed.

After a peaceful night at the spectacular rural Humboldt home of Randy and LeAnn Hildreth, we embarked on today's 71-mile journey to Hampton. Along the way, we passed through Eagle Grove. Wow! I propose a new rule that RAGBRAI begin in Eagle Grove each year. Every other pass-through town before or since paled by comparison.

From vintage cars, to food, to celebrity impersonators, to music, to neighbors on their lawns waving us by, Eagle Grove takes the honor badge through three days of RAGBRAI. Zach and I scored a minor victory in Eagle Grove while waiting in line for breakfast burritos. I happened to notice a sign about a buffet on the door of Godfathers and ventured inside to check it out.

Turns out $5.34 was good for an all-you-care-to-eat pizza buffet and salad bar. Never mind that we got to sit in the mostly vacant, air-conditioned confines while consuming nearly enough food to last the day. As we departed, a biking comic (at least that's what the banner behind his bike described) questioned my sanity for choosing a pizza buffet at 9:30 a.m. "You're done for the day," he said. At that moment I knew there would be no sagging today.

But that story was trumped by Tom Hicks and Peter Klein, who rode in a draft line with Lance Armstrong. There's no video evidence, but I was plugging along at the standard 11 mph as the line passed at a much faster rate. Tom spotted my jersey and called out, "Lonnie, that's Lance," pointing towards the head of the pack.

Zach heard, "Lonnie, at last," as if passing the two of us was any great feat. Turns out Tom and Pete rode with Lance, riding a mountain bike and dressed incognito, for eight really fast miles. He was probably training for his ride with John Edwards tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Bob Untiedt went through his third and fourth blown tube of the ride. I wish I could do justice to the dynamic of this team. But Bob's dry humor has me in stiches. Together with Doug Bennett, I'm regularly in tears. These two riding partners rival the Smothers Brothers. Lucky for us, they'll be here all week.

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