Saturday, July 14, 2007

One week

Next Sunday, you won't wake up in your own bed. I know this because you'll be on RAGBRAI XXXV, waking in Rock Rapids full of adrenalin to tackle a seven-day bike ride across Iowa -- the long way.

As chief organizer, it's assuring to know we have a landing spot each day. I hope that puts your mind at ease as well.

By now, you should be packing and piling on as many miles as you can. If you're 40+ and have fewer training miles than me (238 as of this writing), you're in for a challenge -- but one that's achievable (coming from someone who only logged 148 training miles last year).

Those under age 40 will have no problem whatsoever, unless it's seasonably hot and humid, in which case you lack the life experience and psychological fortitude to overcome the elements. But, then again, maybe this is your year.

Those with 500+ training miles, and anyone who has done a 100 this year, have my utmost respect... and a caution.

None of us should miss out on everything that is RAGBRAI. In other words, there are no prizes at the finish line, other than personal satisfaction. If you're extra motivated, you can be in the next overnight town by noon each day. But you'll have missed a lot along the way.

Take some time to smell the hog lots, get to know the vendors, eat some pie, nap under a shade tree, take a leak in a cornfield, buy a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich from an unlicensed vendor (particularly if he's a Waldorf College professor from Forest City who is raising money for Relay For Life, among other no-less worthy causes).

I've never experienced RAGBRAI from the fast lane, nor do I want to. Slow and steady may not win the race. But RAGBRAI isn't a race, it's a ride. Treat it as such and you'll leave with at least one lifetime memory. Either way, it takes seven days. Spend them as you will.

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