Monday, August 6, 2007

Safety first

The lavish praise you all have heaped on me for organizing Team CoeBRAI is certainly gratifying. It also inspires me to keep this going. Three years ago I thought this would be a quintessential alumni event, and this year we made it just that. Thank each and every one of you for participating. Now I challenge each of you to join us again next year and/or recruit a friend.

The gift certificate you all got me was burning a hole in my pocket so I spent it tonight. I think you'll approve of my purchases. I spent over an hour examining nearly everything Northtowne Cycling and Fitness had to offer. Ultimately, my selections involved something I had learned from you this year.

I got a new helmet, white like Gary's to deflect the intense Iowa sun, after someone said they should be replaced every few years as the styrofoam becomes brittle. While I hope to never need it, I'm glad to know my most valuable asset is protected.

I got a taillight, which I can now use in concert with my helmet headlight should I ever venture out before sunup or, more likely, after sundown.

And I got a tube of Chamois Butter. I figure if it's good enough for John Edwards, it's good enough for me.

Thank you all, again, for everything. If you haven't already, please send me your photos so I can include them in the compilation CD.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Post-ride Musings

August 4, Saturday Looking Back

So it was only a week ago that we rode the hills and pedaled against the wind into Bellevue (poor Lance, he thought watching others race in France would be more fun), took the bus back to Cedar Rapids and then scattered our various directions....for me that meant another 135 miles by car to collect my kids at Grandma's in Kahoka, Missouri before driving another 1000 back to Northern Virginia the next two days....I don't know about Gary and Gail (who I estimate drove nearly similar distances) but next time I'm planning to fly and ship the bikes; that's right, plural bikes because my rising 8th grader -- perhaps inspired by stories of Zach riding successfully -- has said he'll do the ride with me next time I do it, and we even did a little 18 miler Wednesday this week so that I could confirm how sore my but still was...

Thanks to everybody who rode with the group this year -- even those who exposed my Lance photos as pictures of an imposter! I just looked at Tom's video -- I note those are back shots of men with Ragbrai and Livestrong jerseys like I saw hundreds of EACH DAY of the their any way to authenticate that sighting other than the Des Moines Register coverage of Peter Klein generously offering to sink John Edward's campaign with a Chamois Butt'r sample? Did anyone actually see Tom riding with Pete that day?

OK, I guess I should say thanks to Pete and Tom for letting me ride with them on some other days, and to everybody for helping me move and keep track of my two tubs and more worth of possessions at our hosts' camp sites each day....many of you will not be surprised to learn that I returned via UPS today the "Quick Pitch" "4-Person" tent I bought for the week, given its size and stubbornness. Those people at Sierra Trading Post were so understanding...

What an incredible experience of hospitality Lonnie, Lisa, Zach and Carissa and our host families and additional support folks (Gary, Jim, Sara) provided for those of us who were riding last week!! Not to mention the small Iowa towns....

Here are my learnings this year for future years:

1) When transporting riders in the cargo truck to an out-of-town host close the rear door on gravel roads...

2) When transporting riders in the cargo truck back to town on paved roads open the door to allow the passengers to breathe...

3) Whoever arranged the weather should do the same thing they did this year.

4) Leave when you are rested in the morning, swim at municipal pools along the route, and get in when you get in...EVERYBODY is aiming to be on the road by 7AM., which only creates congestion when there are 20,000 bikes on the road in a given day....If you are Lance leave at 11 and finish by 3.

5) Blues Travelor is not Sheryl Crow, but maybe Lance will do better next year (apoligies in advance to Blues Travelor fans).

6) There are no strangers on the ride, mostly just friends you haven't met yet.

7) People who went to Cornell College (John Minek excepted) seem to have an inferiority complex....this puzzled me since I almost went to Cornell, but maybe there is hope for world peace since Tom's wife has been doing the same kind of work at Cornell that he is now doing at Coe.

8) If Bob Untiedt becomes a professional stand-up comic I want to catch him doing a show.

9) Assorted Coe bikers playing the Wartburg College wrestling team in kickball is not a fair match -- maybe basketball would be a better choice?

(10) 20 and 30 years after my first two complete RAGBRAIs it's still a terrifically worthwhile vacation, if fact, I've got to do this ride more often.

Thanks to all of you Coe-affiliated folks for being family for the week, and Rich Blessings in all your endeavors....

-- Kevin Ogle

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Looks like heaven...

Thanks again to all of you for the good times. We really appreciated everyone's understanding and willingness to pitch in given our change in plans. RAGBRAI was a great experience and we're already looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

From Deep in the Heat of Texas

That's right, "heat", it is not a typo. The weather here is hot (95+) and humid (70+%). I am missing the great weather we had on RAGBRAI, especially the cool nights. Here in Houston it gets all the way down to 80 at night.

After a brief visit with my daughter in Long Grove, Iowa, Gail and I headed down the Mississippi River on Sunday afternoon, reaching Cape Girardeau, Missouri about 8:00. Another 12 hour drive on Monday and we were back in Houston, where we were greeted with a broken hot water heater that had leaked all over the ceiling of our family room and entry hall (in Houston we have no basements, so water heaters, furnaces, etc. are placed in attics). What a mess. As I sit here writing this blog, the plumbers are installing a new water heater. Then we can get the restoration people in to dry out everything and redo the damaged sheetrock.

But the good news is, my ribs are much better.

I want to thank Lonnie profusely for the great job he did in organizing everything. Gail and I had a great time, met lots of new folks along the way, had lots of interesting experiences and sights to see and developed what we hope are lasting relationships with our fellow COEBRAI teammates. We have many memories to cherish for many years to come. My only regret is that I could not ride everyday, especially the Eagle Grove day, but I feel like I still got to experience RAGBRAI at its fullest.

Bob, I will miss your unexpected, off-the-wall comments, that always left us in stitches.

Doug, I am sorry that in the rush of things at Bellvue I forgot to give you my pedal wrench so you could remove your pedals before you shipped your bike. Hope you were able to find some other way to do that.

Katie, hope your husband passed the Bar Exam and has a successful and rewarding law practice.

To all of you, thanks for putting up with Gail and me, especially me. I felt like on the days I could not ride I took out my frustration by becoming a little dictatorial. My goal was merely to help get things ready so the riders would have what they needed, plus a few little treats, when they finished riding for the day. I did not intend to be bossy and I hope I did not come off that way or offend anyone. If I did, I apologize.

The bottom line is that RAGBRAI was a fantastic experience for us and we will miss all of you.

Best wishes for all,

Gary and Gail