Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My biking addiction

I was able to stay off my bike Sunday, occupying my time instead by unloading the camper. But Monday I was ready to go again.

I "only" logged 12 miles, but they were hilly. In prior years, biking was the last thing on my mind after RAGBRAI ended. This year was different, as I didn't even want RAGBRAI to end.

Plus, I was anxious to try out the IPod speaker system Team CoeBRAI bought me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I'm hoping to ride out to Sutliff Cider soon, but I don't know that this weekend will work. I'm officiating a wedding and participating in Relay For Life, so there may not be time. Soon though.

Also, for anyone interested in a reunion ride, consider joining the Hawkeye Bicycle Association's Swine Trek. Postponed by the flooding until Aug. 30, it offers 25, 50, 75 and 100-mile options. Call me crazy, but I'm planning to go for my first century.

Cue "Bicycle Race" by Queen. Or was it STYX?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A RAGBRAI Love Story

Generally speaking, what happens on RAGBRAI stays on RAGBRAI. That is hardly the case this year for Kevin Ogle, a 1983 Coe graduate from Falls Church, Virginia.

After Northwest Airlines lost one of his bags on his flight to Cedar Rapids, you wouldn't think he would entrust them with his new best friend on the return flight. But there he was Sunday morning, checking in Bo for the flight to his new home.

The family dog -- a rottweiler mix -- died of lymphoma this spring. Kevin, a pastoral counselor, knows all about appropriate grieving processes, so he was in no hurry to get a new dog. But it was "love at first sight" when he met Bo at a Safe Haven of Iowa County booth in Homestead on Thursday.

In addition to biking, Kevin spent the last two days of the ride navigating the considerable logistics of adopting and transporting Bo to Virginia. First there was the online application to complete -- no small task given the spotty Internet reception we've had. He also had to purchase a kennel for transporting Bo -- also a rottweiler mix -- and monitor the weather at each leg of his flight from Cedar Rapids to Minneapolis to Washington, D.C. He looked into renting a car to drive Bo when it looked like temperatures would exceed the 85 degree threshold for flying with animals.

Ultimately, though, Bo was issued a boarding pass and, barring any travel delays, he will soon meet his new family -- Kevin, his wife and sons aged 14 and 10. Kevin keeps hoping to bring his older son with him on RAGBRAI. I'm sure he never imagined bringing a living, breathing piece of RAGBRAI home.

Day 7: Rockin' to the river

RAGBRAI ended on a high note as I rode the final 53 miles to Le Claire with a bike-mounted IPod speaker system, a gift of the wonderful collection of riders who made up Team CoeBRAI. Though I couldn't find my IPod -- turns out it was in the camper all along -- my wife's had a sufficient collection of Tom Petty, ACDC and Green Day to keep me motivated.

The musical accompaniment and tail winds for the first time all week helped me average 15 miles an hour, a personal best. Several of us lingered in Eldridge, where a small army of rubber gloved volunteers made sure the port-o-potties were sanitary.

In Le Claire we dipped our tires in the Mississippi River, gathered for a group photo and loaded up for the return home. Several of us then met at a local Mexican restaurant for dinner, drinks and story-telling.

One of my favorite aspects of RAGBRAI is the strong relationships it fosters and this year was no different. I fully expect many of this year's riders to return again next year. I know I will.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 6: Crimson Pride


Friday's ride from North Liberty to Tipton offered no headwinds. I knew this would be a good day just because it went through Mount Vernon -- home of Cornell College -- but it was a bonus that Tom Hicks and Erik Albinson joined the ride. The Coe colleagues made good riding partners as we motored through familiar territory.

Though our start was delayed by one last Farm Boys breakfast burrito and a visit to my new favorite place on earth -- Sutliff Cider -- not to mention Lisbon and Mount Vernon -- my vote for best pass-through town -- we rolled into Tipton shortly after 2 p.m. and quickly made ourselves at home at Bob Rickard's place.

I've got a great setup, so I rarely get garage envy, but wow. Bob is set up with a century's old garage that houses a fully stocked bar, projection high definition TV and Wii!

I couldn't access the Internets (again!), so I reportedly got my drink on. Great stop!

Day 5: Heading home

Thursday began with a light rain out of Tama-Toledo until Belle Plaine, 30 out of 76 miles later. Fortunately, we shaved about six miles off of a bumpy road out of town thanks to a shortcut from the Upah farm.

This was my grouchy day. I was wet, and cold, and didn't want to be on my bike. So I rode, and rode, and rode by myself. I was first to arrive in North Liberty, which had the best welcome I experienced. Here, CJ and Jenn Marcy hosted us in their lakeside home.

On a nicer day the Amanas would have been cool, even if they didn't roll out the RAGBRAI red carpet. Instead, for me, it was merely a bathroom break from my final destination.

It helped considerably not to have to seek out breakfast -- thanks Upahs! -- but all were anticipating a refreshing dip in the Marcy pool. Several folks who live in Cedar Rapids took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in their bed for a night, and they all returned to finish the ride.

Day 4: Nothing like getting your butt kicked, twice

Had winds followed the prevailing pattern, Wednesday's 78-mile ride to Tama-Toledo would have been a breeze. Instead, it was a challenge. The consensus among Team CoeBRAI was that this was even tougher than the 83-mile, 5,200-foot climb into Jefferson on Monday.

While only 2,869 feet of climb, steady head and cross winds tested our resolve. It couldn't have helped that we added a few miles onto the beginning -- from David Moore's house in Ames to the route and off the route in Toledo to Stan and Charlotte Upah's homestead.

We soon discovered it was worth the effort. Predictably, the Upahs went all out. A hay rack was implemented to shuttle riders across the mile of gravel to the Upah home. There were hot showers aplenty and, though I may have been the only one to take advantage of it, they had a hot tub. Throw in a dinner feast -- not to mention breakfast! -- and a tough day on the road would have ended ideally.

Then Wartburg College arrived for the second annual kickball showdown. Team CoeBRAI held its own for three scoreless innings, before falling 6-2 in seven. Chalk this loss up to coaching. The Knightriders were prepared -- even taking batting practice as we finished dinner. Never mind that they appeared far too fresh to have biked this grueling day. I guarantee a different approach to next year's game.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 3: Blowin' into Cyclone country

RAGBRAI is all about pie, but this day was cake. Only 57 mostly flat -- except for a big climb into Boone, which probably accounted for a third of the day's total -- miles from Jefferson to Ames.

First to arrive was our host, Dr. David Moore, whose parklike backyard gave riders a much needed night of peaceful rest. From here, it's hard to tell RAGBRAI is in town, and that's just fine and perfectly timely.

And the weather -- oh glorious weather. I'm not sure what today's high was, but I barely broke a sweat while making progress on my farmer's tan. We faced challenging headwinds, I'm not gonna lie, but it's hard to complain on a day like today.

As I type this I'm on the deck of David's spectacular home with a cool breeze hitting my neck, scarcely a sound to be head but crickets chirping and an occasional croak from the pond. No train whistles. No reverberating music. No post game analysis. At least not yet.

Most everyone else went to the big show -- The Nada's and STYX. I took a pass so I could blog. These are the sacrifices one makes when he doesn't care for the headline act.

Much as I'd like to be "drinking from a bottle, not thinking about tomorrow" -- as we've heard time and again -- big mileage days await. Tomorrow offers nearly 80 miles to the Upah's in rural Toledo, where we will put our best 10 up against Wartburg College in RAGBRAI Kickball Death Match II (no one died last year, but one never knows).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 2: 83 miles of hills and headwinds

RAGBRAI hit us with its best shot Monday, but only one CoeBRAI rider succumbed to the sag wagon. It was fait accompli after Jill Clark forgot her cash and ID in Harlan.

With over 5,200 feet of climb over 83 miles (and I'm told the century loop was every bit as hilly) this is easily the toughest day we'll face all week. I used my granny gear on four of the hills and found the headwinds faced for much of the day every bit as challenging.

First though, Team CoeBRAI and the Lizard Kings huddled in the basement of Jim Druck's home in Harlan when a wicked storm blew through at 2 p.m. Evidence of the storm was apparent on Monday's ride to Jefferson, where our host Dave Hoyt '78 saw trees toppled at his parent's farm in nearby Scranton.

In the storm's aftermath, 20 CoeBRAI riders tackled 83 hilly miles to Jefferson.
Kevin Ogle and David Moore decided 83 miles wasn't enough, so they completed the century loop for 100 miles on a bike. For their efforts they got a patch and sore muscles. Kevin was first to arrive in Jefferson -- despite riding an extra 17 miles -- with your's truly arriving shortly after, first in the 83-mile division. Riders quickly trickled in while racing threatening clouds bearing down on Jefferson.

A little light rain fell for a bit, but it didn't derail the picnic dinner orchestrated by drivers Abby Masters and Ashley Bieghler, with assistance from Lisa Zingula. Thanks to Dave Hoyt for opening his home to us -- and for letting me tap into his wi-fi.

Ironically, our next door neighbors in Jefferson are the team from Wartburg College. They've been much more subdued than Team CoeBRAI. I've been scouting them out for Wednesday's kickball showdown in Toledo, and I like our chances -- unless they bring in the ringers again.

Now it's on to Ames, where we'll actually be staying with one of our riders -- Dr. David Moore, he of the just completed, first time century ride. I doubt it's his last. He seems to really enjoy this. All the better while connecting with former classmates like Dave Hoyt.

Speaking of alumni connections, Dennis Mumm stopped by tonight on his way into town to catch up with Dave and fellow Sigma Nu's Stan Miller '59 from St. Louis and Keith Rusher '61 from Fort Madison, Iowa, dropped by the greet Team CoeBRAI. Stan and Keith, who ride with a group out of Fort Madison, are staying across the street tonight. Earlier tonight, Judy Floy's brother and his family dropped by with pie from his Jefferson church.

It's a small RAGBRAI world.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 1: An Awesome Start

From the terraced farms outside Beebeetown, to the Farm Boys breakfast burrito, to Elvis in Neola, to a walking taco in Shelby, this was my best RAGBRAI day in four years. Losing 50 pounds will do that for a person.

Sure there were hills aplenty in the 59-mile trek from Missouri Valley to Harlan, but nothing I couldn't manage -- and the granny gear never came into play. Brian Farrell, Kevin Koschmeder and I ventured out about 7:15 a.m. and by about 2:15 were in Harlan.

Several arrived sooner and some arrived later, but all arrived without the need of assistance. A positive start to RAGBRAI.

Our hosts in Harlan are Jim Bruck '77 and his wife, Julie. We're sharing their lawn with the Lizard Kings, which includes Coe alumni Rick Blackwell and Dennis Mumm. Another fabulous stop. It's always great to connect with Coe folks.

We just learned that there's severe weather in the forecast overnight, so I need to cut this short. Tomorrow is also the longest -- 83 miles -- and hilliest -- over 5,200 feet of climb -- day, so I should get some rest.

We're off to Jefferson, were we'll be hosted by Dave Hoyt '78. What is it about these late 70s Coe grads? With any luck, the entire town will have wireless Internets too.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Today we drove, tomorrow we ride

Team CoeBRAI arrived successfully today in Missouri Valley after a very long journey from Cedar Rapids. Everyone's luggage has been recovered and, so far, it hasn't rained, although there's a tremendous light show going on right now.

Several riders -- and bandits like my son -- rode to the Missouri River 12 miles from here to dip their tires. I opted instead for a tasty tenderloin at the Eagles Club, and a long walk to the RAGBRAI expo, where I scored a sharp Fat Tire jersey.

We are being most ably hosted by Jack and Kris Gochenour. Jack is a veterinarian and Kris, a Coe alumna, helps at the clinic. We’re staying on grounds that were flooded 15 months ago. Pictures and news clippings hung on the outside of their former clinic are eerily similar to many we’ve seen from Cedar Rapids. It’s encouraging to see how they’ve bounced back, though many reminders remain.

Nearly 200 of us are sharing the Gochenour’s yard, including Team CoeBRAI, Team Skunk from the Des Moines/Ames area and veterinarian colleagues of Jack, who has ridden RAGBRAI since 1996.

The Loes Hills in the horizon promise a challenging ride to Harlan tomorrow. Personally, I’m anxious to get on the road. More later, as time and circumstances allow.

More later, and photos, after I recharge the battery.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Roll with it

I decided this was the theme for this year as I was escorting my second of two CoeBRAI fliers who arrived minus luggage. Brilliant!

The pasta dinner seemed to go well, although Doug Bennett and I were late (though at least we were clothed). Interesting dynamic between the veterans and first-timers. This is going to be a fun ride.

Pre-load went extremely well, thanks to Tom Hicks' able assistance. It's amazing what experience can do.

Technical aspects haven't gone so well, consequently I'll be taking two laptops along -- my state-of-the-art HP purchased months ago (which can't seem to work with the wireless Internets card) and one of the SID's dinosaurs (though one can't plug in the power card and the Internets card at the same time).

This could be interesting, but I'll try. I'm just gonna roll with it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

RAGBRAI weather

I had to chuckle the other night when I saw the first RAGBRAI weather forecast on the local news. I know meteorology is an imperfect science, but the forecast for Sunday in Cedar Rapids really has no bearing on the weather in Missouri Valley.

So, now that we're within the 10-day window of every stop, I did at little research at weather.com. Here's what I learned:

Saturday, July 19 in Missouri Valley -- High 87, Low 68 with scattered thunderstorms. 40% chance of precipitation. UV index -- very high. Fitness comfort index -- moderate.

Sunday, July 20 in Harlan -- High 86, Low 66 and partly cloudy. 20% chance of precipitation. UV index -- very high. Fitness comfort index -- high. Wind from the southwest at 7 mph. Sounds like a good first day, as long as we don't wake up wet.

Monday, July 21 in Jefferson -- High 87, Low 65 with scattered thunderstorms. 40% chance of precipitation. UV index -- very high. Fitness comfort index -- moderate. Wind from the west/northwest at 7 mph. If the wind switches to further north and east, this day could rival day two of 2006, when I rode the last leg in a cattle truck as sag wagons were overwhelmed.

Tuesday, July 22 in Ames -- High 87, Low 63 with scattered thunderstorms. 40% chance of precipitation. UV index -- very high. Fitness comfort index -- moderate. Wind from the west/southwest at 8 mph. This needs to NOT be a day that tests our resolve.

Wednesday, July 23 in Tama-Toledo -- High 86, Low 63 and partly cloudy. 20% chance of precipitation. UV index -- very high. Fitness comfort index -- COMFORTABLE! Glorious tailwinds at 10 mph. We should be in good shape when we take the kickball field against the Wartburg College Knights. Anyone bringing steel-toed boots?

Thursday, July 24 in North Liberty -- High 88, Low 66 and SUNNY! 10% chance of precipitation. UV index -- haven't you figured it out by now? Fitness comfort index -- COMFORTABLE AGAIN! Wind from the west/northwest at 9 mph. I predict this will be the best ride of the week.

Friday, July 25 in Tipton -- High 83, Low 61 and SUNNY AGAIN! 20% chance of precipitation. UV index -- see last paragraph. Fitness comfort index -- still more comfort. Wind from the southwest at 10 mph. The route from North Liberty to Tipton by way of Mount Vernong makes wind a relative non-factor here: at some point we're sure to face headwinds. Regardless, I'm so looking forward to the parade of Coe jerseys slicing through the heart of Cornell.

Saturday, July 26 in Le Claire -- ok, so I lied. We're not 10 days out. But here's the Le Claire forecast for Friday. High 82, Low 64 and more glorious sunshine. 20% chance of precipitation. Another good day on the fitness comfort index, whatever that is. I'm not even mentioning the UV index. Wind from the west at 9 mph.

So as a darn near lifelong Iowan, what do I conclude from all of this? Not a whole lot, but some. It's encouraging that the chance of precipitation never exceeds 40%, but those days will be humid and it may well rain -- or storm -- at some point. On the 10-20% days, of which there are many, we should be good. Apparently, the temperature will never exceed 90, which would probably be a RAGBRAI first.

Further proof, that global warming is a misnomer. It should be called climate change. Plenty of evidence of it here in Iowa.

The countdown is on

I just read on the side of the blog that RAGBRAI begins in a little more than four days. I can handly believe it's time again to spend a week in spandex once again. My training this year compared to last year has been less than impressive. I think I just hit the 130 mile mark on my bike. I don't think I will have to worry about keeping up with Doug this year...there isnt a chance.

Andrew and I participated (because I made him) in this event in Chicago called McDonald's L.A.T.E ride (Late stands for long after twilight ends). There were approx 5,000 to 8,000 riders and the ride started in waves and you ride around the city streets of Chicago ending by riding down the lake shore seeing the city skyline. The waves start around 1:30 in the morning. We didnt get going until almost 2am. It sounds fun right??? Just agree...

It was horrible...there were so many people on crowded streets that weren't blocked off and there were so many people who had zero road etiquette. People were crashing and running into people. It made me excited about RAGBRAI so I can hang out with those who are polite and friendly and have some respect for other bikers and cars on the road.

Mainly this post comes about as I am bored at work - I have plenty to do but the work gets a little boring at times - and I decided I would learn to post!

Lonnie, we'll be there early enough to load our stuff and you wont have to call us this year to see if I am coming or where I am.

Who knew the crazy people on RAGBRAI who ride year after year would be right - that it's definately an experience you love a little more after you're off your bike for a few weeks - now I can't wait for RAGBRAI 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

Swimming on RAGBRAI

One of the many pleasures I discovered last year on my inaugural RAGBRAI was the abundance of community pools along the route. Many had free or low-cost ($2) swimming for riders and a quick dip in the cool water broke up the day well. Cycling shorts (and a sports bra I hear) make for a great swimsuit and they dry pretty quickly when you get back on your bike. For those of you who may be interested in going for a dip this year, I've put together a map of each of the pools I could find close to the route. I know I'll be up for a swim when I join Team CoeBRAI on Friday, July 25th.
Click on the map above or this link for the pools:

Simply amazing

Wow! Today's journey to Mount Vernon and back was amazing. Wind at our back outbound and reduced wind in our faces on the return. No humidity. Temps in the low 80s. Respectively, a cheeseburger with onion rings, a Philly cheese steak with fries, a grilled tenderloin with fries, and a blue cheese burger with onion rings at Chameleons. Not to mention Fat Tire.

I'll take eight days just like this beginning next Sunday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A glimpse inside

I am continually wowed by the red carpet thrown out by each overnight town on RAGBRAI. Often, in fact, usually, an overnight town's population doubles when RAGBRAI arrives. The planning and coordination involved is incredible.

For a detailed example of what's going on in one of this year's overnights -- Jefferson -- I encourage you to check out Chuck Offenburger's column here. Chuck, a longtime columnist for the Des Moines Register and one of the RAGBRAI founders, spent some time at Coe a few years ago as a January Term instructor and wrote about it here.

He's a great guy, who'll you get a chance to meet Thursday in Tama/Toledo. Chuck and his wife, Carla, are also staying at the rural Toledo home of Stan and Charlotte Upah, parents of newly hired Coe PR coordinator Kristy Upah, who graduated from Coe in May.

This is going to be a fun stop. Not only will the Upahs feed us dinner, there's a volleyball court, ping pong table and weight room available. They also have a hot tub, but I believe RAGBRAI rules declare them off limits to anyone who isn't a team captain.

Located three-miles east of town, we should also enjoy a peaceful night's sleep -- after avenging last year's kickball loss to Wartburg. That's right! Kickball is on! The Knights will meet us at the Upahs for a 7 p.m. game.

We'll open the week at the home of Kris Dyer Gochenour, a 1979 Coe graduate, in Missouri Valley. She and her veterinarian husband live on a large lot across the street from the fairgrounds and near railroad tracks with trains running 24/7. BRING EARPLUGS!

It will be interesting to swap flood stories with Kris, as her community was devastated just a few years ago.

In Harlan, we'll be sharing the yard of Jim Bruck with the Lizard Kings. Two of my favorite Kohawks are Lizard Kings. One of them, Rick Blackwell, is recovering from a recent biking accident. Jim, a 1977 Coe graduate, is a teacher and coach at the Harlan high school.

In Jefferson, where the Offenburgers hail, we're staying with attorney Dave Hoyt, a 1978 Coe grad. If you read Chuck's column, you're impressed with the planning in Jefferson. And that doesn't even include Dave, and many like him, who are opening their homes to riders. Dave is even providing dinner and Jefferson is where RAGBRAI officially bids adieu to Mr. Pork Chop, sadly. My guess is he'll get the itch around June and be back for 2009. But I'm a Packer fan, so I digress.

Ames will be an interesting stop, if only because we're staying with a fellow rider. Neurologist David Moore, a 1980 Coe grad, will host us in Ames while accompanying us from Missouri Valley to Tama/Toledo. Ames, home of the Iowa State Cyclones, is also the "big" concert venue, with local artists The Nadas opening for ... wait for it ... STYK! Oh well, tickets are only $5 and proceeds go to flood recovery. BRING EARPLUGS!

After Tama/Toledo, towns so nice they named them twice, we're on to North Liberty. There we'll be hosted by CJ and Jenn Marcy, 1993 and 1996 Coe grads respectively, at their lakeside home with in-ground swimming pool. Dinner tonight is pot-luck, so invite your family and friends.

After proudly flying the Coe colors through Mount Vernon on the way to Tipton, our final overnight town will be a treat. Bob Rickard, a 1958 Coe grad, is hosting us at his home overlooking the park that will be the focal point of RAGBRAI activity. Tipton is the official Coe gathering spot for RAGBRAI. Contact the Alumni Office to RSVP.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Final Push

Fortunately, it turns out, I've got a spare bike to ride while mine is in for the interminable tuneup. I'm not sure Zach, my then 14-year-old who rode all of RAGBRAI 2007, has been on his bike since.

His computer has been misplaced, somehow, so I have to take known routes, but he's got a sweet bike. His seat blows mine away. Maybe I'll steal it for RAGBRAI, since he'll be riding in the camper. Though I hope he'll join us for a day, or two or three.

The extra bike will keep me on pace for 450ish miles, but I've heard of some awfully impressive training mile totals. Doug Bennett, in particular, may need to start from the finish.

Here's the Cliff Notes schedule:
6 p.m. Friday, July 18 -- spaghetti dinner at Coe and advanced loading
8 a.m. Saturday, July 19 -- loading at Coe for 10 a.m. departure
3 p.m. Saturday, July 26 -- arriving at Coe after a safe and successful adventure

Type rest of the post here

Thursday, July 3, 2008



This is your big RAGBRAI concert, with proceeds supporting the Iowa Disaster Fund? Really?

I don't mean to offend any Mr. Roboto's out there, but I didn't like STYX in their prime. Why would I bother now?

Oh, perhaps to support a very needy cause, to be sure. Or just to see The Nadas. Now that's worth $5!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

RAGBRAI is this month!

Holy crap! All of the sudden, I look up and it's July. Two weeks from Saturday we depart from Eby Fieldhouse. I'd better get busy.

I know some of you are unsure what to bring so here are some tips from the RAGBRAI folks, plus a few of my own based on three years of experience.

Please put identification on everything you take on RAGBRAI. Lost items can be returned to owners.

Bicycle equipment: Find your helmet, make sure it fits correctly and pack it now. (Unless you're planning on biking anytime between now and July 18!) Bicycle shops can handle most any mechanical need you have, but you might consider bringing a small repair kit that includes a tire, spare tube, tire irons and small wrenches. (I've survived on spare tubes and chain lube, after the eventual rain, the past three years. As long as you get your bike serviced before RAGBRAI, and your name isn't Bob, it should be good to go.) In addition, a rear view mirror, bike gloves, pump, bike bag, rain gear, bicycle lock and water bottles are necessary equipment. (Personally, I don't mess with rain gear. If it rains, I get wet. Rode through hail two years ago. And a lock isn't really necessary either, from my experience.)

Camping equipment: You'll need a duffle bag (or, in our case, a 30-gallon plastic tub, such as the one pictured here), sleeping bag, pillow, pad, tent, ground cloth, rope, stakes and a flashlight. (A collapsible chair will also come in handy. It need not fit into your plastic tub, nor your tent. The tubs are just a handy way to tote items from town to town and also offer protection from the rain. For extra protection, pack what you can in large ziplock bags. I have a small supply of tubs should anyone, particularly out-of-towners, wish to use them.)

Toiletries: Pack a towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, skin lotion, shampoo, soap, razor, nail clippers, brush/comb, hair ties/barrettes, deodorant, mirror and toilet tissue. (No arguments here, though I could probably survive a week without nail clippers.)

Clothes: T-shirts, shorts, a jacket, pants, warm-up suit, underwear, socks, shoes, sandals, sleepwear, swimsuit and sweatbands/bandannas should get you through the week. (Two sets of biking attire are sufficient from my experience -- one to wear and one to dry out after "washing" it in the shower. Remember that you will be getting a CoeBRAI jersey and some of you also ordered a RAGBRAI jersey. Remember also that each overnight town has a t-shirt they would like to sell you. Be sure to bring padded biking shorts!)

First Aid: Pack aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamins, Band-Aids, gauze, tape, first-aid cream, lip balm, sun block (lots of it!), insect repellent (even more!), safety pins, special medicines, Campho-Phenique and sanitary protection with disposable bags if needed. (Two years ago, I learned the healing power of Gold Bond powder. Last year, I learned the secret recipe to a happy hinie: Chamois Butter before and during, Gold Bond after. Avoid this advice at your own peril.)

Miscellaneous: Bring an alarm clock, spare glasses, sunglasses, a scouting knife, camera, film, watch, earplugs (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Trains, rock concerts, civil defense sirens, etc., will inevitably disturb your effort to get some rest. Bring earplugs.), ID, money, traveler's checks, credit cards, journal, pens, pencils (who uses pencils anymore?), stamps, address book, several plastic trash bags for rain protection and zip-lock bags. Be sure to enclose everything in a water-tight plastic bag.

(Oh, and bring your bike.)

I got your chain right here, buddy

Oh, yeah - a post or two ago, Lonnie noted my chain difficulties. I need to confess, here, of my curse by a biking half-leprechaun. His curse didn't kill me. It just flattens tires, bends rims, breaks chains. Good thing he wasn't full-blooded.

But, seriously, I've gotten in more than 100 miles on the new chain already. Sure, I can't ride on some trails because they're still under water. I don't think there's any reason to fear riding on the only remaining paved area - the Interstate. There's no danger or curse attached to THAT, surely?

Well, I'd add more inanity here, but I should get out on the bike!