Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Guess the route contest is on

The Register has launched it's annual "Guess the Route" contest, which probably means they've got it all mapped out. Conventional wisdom says the route will head north, where it hasn't been in a few years. That's ok by me, so long as it doesn't go south again anytime soon.

But if I could dictate the route, I'd have it slice right through the heart of Iowa. Something like this (with overnight experience indicated): Onawa (5), Lake View (2), Boone (3), Grinnell (3), Vinton (1), Mount Vernon (1), Maquoketa (3) and Sabula (1).

The actual route won't be announced until the end of January. Until then, your guess is as good as mine.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Signs of a bike-friendly Linn County

Signs reminding drivers to “share the road” could be coming soon

Posted on Nov 25, 2009 by Adam Belz, Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Bicycle enthusiasts want Linn County to pave wider shoulders on rural roads heading out of Cedar Rapids, or at least put up signs reminding motorists to share the road.

Looks like they might get the signs, which they offered to help pay for.

Paving wider shoulders — at $130,000 per mile for a four-foot shoulder — is just too expensive for now.

“I don’t think anyone is generally opposed to them, but we have to put some kind of plan in place that allows that fiscal potential to occur,” Supervisor Linda Langston said.

Several members of the Hawkeye Bicycle Association showed up for a supervisor meeting in early November to point out that wider shoulders are safer for bicyclists, but also safer for motorists. They pointed out the health benefits of making it easier for workers to commute on their cycles.

The key roads that need wider shoulders are major routes out of the metropolitan area, like Blairs Ferry Road and Mount Vernon Road, said John Wauer, a retired Rockwell Collins engineer. Quiet rural roads in the county have less traffic, and it isn’t as crucial they get wider shoulders, he said.

“Johnson County has done quite a bit with paved shoulders, particularly in the Solon area, but there’s not a good way to get to Solon from here,” Wauer said. “It can cause a bit of congestion when you’ve got a narrow road and cars going in both directions.”

The secondary roads budget won’t likely allow for any special projects to add wider shoulders. Wauer said he thought the county could address shoulders whenever a section of road is worked on. We’ll see, Langston said.

“It’s a bit of a challenge,” she said. “How do we plan for it and balance out between everybody in the county who wants rock on their roads.”

“Share the road” signs, which bicyclists hope will encourage a more bike-friendly driving culture in the area, could be coming soon.

“We’re going to move out to that group and engage the Hawkeye Bicycle Association and try to get some indication about where they want those signs put,” Langston said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dad comes full cycle

Arizona Daily Star article features Mike Noonan '87, who caught the biking bug as a teenager on RAGBRAI and now shares it with his teenage daughter. Maybe they'll join us some time.

Dad comes full cycle
Cyclist, daughter following route of bonding on bikes
By Patrick Finley
When Mike and Karolyn Noonan board their bicycles Saturday to race in El Tour de Tucson's 66-mile race, they'll be doing more than participating in a Tucson tradition.
The 45-year-old Noonan and his 16-year-old daughter will be continuing a family bond that started 33 years ago, long before Karolyn was born.
Here's a look at what Iowa, orange juice and "Manhood Training" have to do with Saturday's ride.
• Manhood training: Noonan grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of a high school coach, Robert. In 1976, Robert Noonan, a cycling enthusiast, decided his son needed "Manhood Training" — and enrolled the two in a famous bike ride.
Father and son did the Des Moines Register-sponsored RAGBRAI, Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, which bills itself the longest, oldest and largest touring event in the world. They rode 70 miles per day for seven days, dipping their bike tires in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers along the way.
Mike Noonan liked the ride so much he didn't complain when his father wouldn't let him have a moped like his friends; he didn't own his first car until he was a senior in college.
"I think what it is, is it's the bond it created with my father and I," he said. "I see it as an adult. I want that same bond with my children."
• Bribed with breakfast: Mike Noonan's daughter, Karolyn, rode El Tour's 35-miler two years ago, and began riding on Sunday mornings with her father.
Noonan, who along with his wife, Katie, runs Noonan Physical Therapy and Associates, figured bicycle riding would be a good way for Karolyn to recover from a knee injury this year.
"My dad and I would get up on Sunday mornings before church and bike to Mile Marker 1 on Mount Lemmon, and then to the coffee shop," she said. "After I got comfortable with 1, we went to 2 and then 3. The farthest I've got is 5 1/2."
In the summer, her dad swears, Karolyn would wake up at 6 a.m. to ride — quite a feat for a teenager. They'd ride, eat and go to church.
"The carrot at the end was, 'I'll take you to breakfast at Le Buzz,'" he said, referring to a cafe on Tanque Verde Road. "She likes quiche and freshly squeezed OJ and fruit. I think that was the idea — 'I'll suffer, then Dad will buy me breakfast.'"
• A bond: Mike Noonan, who rides competitively with his friends, uses the Sunday trip as a "recovery ride" — and as a chance to bond with his daughter. He has two boys, but they're busy playing team sports.
"She's my oldest," he said. "She likes fitness, and she and I have things we can do."
Karolyn Noonan, a Salpointe Catholic High School junior, sees it as a chance to bond with her dad, regardless of how the two do Saturday. They're prepared, having done 50 miles — to Vail and back — 10 days ago.
"Obviously, my dad's at work, and I'm at school usually," she said. "It's really nice to go out with him and spend time with him."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Let the registrations begin!

Though RAGBRAI is well down my list of priorities and certainly not among my pressing items, news that online registration is now open for 2010 has me fired up for another year with Team CoeBRAI.

Veterans should have received an e-mail from RAGBRAI with registration instructions. First-time participants will first need to create a profile at the RAGBRAI Web site. You will then want to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send signed waivers or any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, the group contact.

Fees for Team CoeBRAI have been set at $400 for 2010 (plus anything you might order through the RAGBRAI registration, such as a jersey or souvenir pack). Of this, $200 is due March 1 along with a completed (online) entry form and signed waiver. The remaining $200 will be due July 1.

The fee includes the official $140 RAGBRAI entry fee, a Team CoeBRAI jersey and license plate, bus transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns, some meals, and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop.

If you're not ready to commit, don't sweat it. Our "official" registration process doesn't begin until January. But if your like me and can't imagine a summer without RAGBRAI, go ahead and register. It's also a good time to add biking gear to your holiday wishlists.

Also, Team CoeBRAI is all over the social networking craze. In addition to this blog and our Web site, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Many of you are already members of our Facebook group. Just today I also created a Facebook page, which allows much more flexibility. I hope you'll become a fan.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CoeBRAI jersey tracking

Sep 15, 2009 12:44 AM Shipment information sent to FedEx
Sep 15, 2009 1:18 PM Arrived at FedEx location ANCHORAGE, AK
Sep 15, 2009 3:11 PM Departed FedEx location ANCHORAGE, AK
Sep 15, 2009 4:15 PM Picked up YUEN LONG HK
Sep 15, 2009 6:04 PM Left FedEx origin facility YUEN LONG HK
Sep 15, 2009 8:20 PM In transit LANTAU ISLAND HK
Sep 15, 2009 9:30 PM Int'l shipment release ANCHORAGE, AK
Sep 16, 2009 1:07 AM Arrived at FedEx location INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Sep 16, 2009 4:21 AM At dest sort facility CEDAR RAPIDS, IA
Sep 16, 2009 4:23 AM Departed FedEx location INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Sep 16, 2009 5:10 AM Arrived at FedEx location INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Sep 16, 2009 7:21 AM At local FedEx facility CEDAR RAPIDS, IA
Sep 16, 2009 7:25 AM On FedEx vehicle for delivery CEDAR RAPIDS, IA
Sep 16, 2009 8:31 AM Delivered CEDAR RAPIDS, IA
Sep 16, 2009 11:39 AM Awaiting delivery to my office.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Labor Day ride

August has slipped into September and RAGBRAI suddenly seems a distant memory. Those of us in the Midwest are facing a bleak future of stationary biking. But there's still time to seize the last moments of summer on Monday with the annual Cedar Rapids Mayors Bike Ride, sponsored by the Linn County Trails Association.

With registration from 9-10 a.m. at the Ellis Park swimming pool parking lot, the 8-mile fun ride is free and open to the public. It will start at 10:15 a.m. and will go through downtown Cedar Rapids, around Cedar Lake and back to Ellis Park.

Tom Hicks and I are planning to incorporate lunch and a longer afternoon ride into the day, so join us if you can. A good time is sure to be had by all.

Best of all, the flood repairs on the trail through Cedar Rapids should be completed. And the weather forecast looks ideal.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The next leg?

RAGBRAI's 442-mile path from Council Bluffs to Burlington left me at a personal best 1,064 miles on the year. While I don't know when the next ride will be (I'm still 636 miles short of my goal), every ride from here on out will mark a new personal best. I like that.

I was hoping to join the local MS 150, but discovered that's the same weekend as my fantasy football draft. Experienced CoeBRAI riders won't be surprised that I'm the commissioner.

I looked into Swine Trek, but that's the morning of Coe's opening football game, and I have to announce. That was my first -- and only -- century last year, but I'll have to miss it this year.

There is the first annual BReW TAH TAH party ride out of North Liberty that caught my eye. It's a free party ride from Roadie's to Morse and back sponsored by Team AlcoHawk. It's an Aug. 8 nooner for 25-30 miles of rolling hills. I'll pick the Ely Boys up along the way, I hope.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mission complete

RAGBRAI concluded today with a delightful 43-mile ride to Burlington, where the brave and crazy could end their ride going up Snake Alley. I've got enough coozies, thank you very much.

After dodging a severe weather scare overnight, today's weather was pleasant and the track flat and fast. There was only one severe climb and the ride through Geode State Park was a treat. Spectacular roads (finally!) from there to Burlington.

After gathering at Happy Joe's on the edge of town, Team CoeBRAI made its descent to the Mississippi River. Wearing our Marvin Cone inspired jerseys and riding together for the only time, I'm certain we won the fashion prize.

I've experienced worse dipping sites, as well as better. The team was a model of efficiency though as we loaded up for the return to Coe. Gotta give a shout out here to our awesome support team -- the best support team in the history of RAGBRAI! Thank you Abby, Ryan and Lisa!!!

I seem to have inherited a small fortune of chairs, tents, pumps, etc. so please let me know if you're missing anything before the yard sale. I'll gladly hold on to any property until you return next year, hint hint.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Toughest day yet

A fair dose of hills, our first dose of heat and a painful stretch of headwinds made Friday's ride to Mount Pleasant a challenge. Personally, I prefer it hot, so that was a welcome change. And it hasn't rained today -- knock on wood.

I started out with Doug and Eddie, but lost them both quickly. I seem to have rubber legs in the morning and can't get going until I've had a good breakfast. Today, it was one last Farm Boys breakfast burrito, where I jumped in line with Doug and shaved minutes off my waiting time.

As we turned into the headwinds near Pekin, I lost Doug and rode alone from there, rarely even seeing any teammates along the way. Many of them were in Mount Pleasant already when I arrived, so I had to surrender the yellow jacket. It's tough to finish first when your competition doesn't have to ride an extra 30 miles.

The ride from Ottumwa to Brighton was flat and fast. Brighton to Mount Pleasant offered heat, hills and headwind. If it had also been humid, we'd have hit the jackpot. Some riders witnessed accidents, including a biker riding into a farm grader!

We're all sore, but safe and anticipating completing this adventure tomorrow in Burlington.

We're being hosted tonight by Bitrus and Olabisi Gwamna, who are both on the faculty at Iowa Wesleyan. Their son, Duroje, will be a Coe senior next year. Another son, Zoom, is celebrating his birthday with 40 strangers in his yard.

We were rewarded for our efforts with an amazing meal our hostess spent the day preparing and hotel quality water pressure for showering. Today we also said good by to newly crowned century rider and unofficial CoeBRAI mascot Bob Untiedt. After taking Wednesday off, Bob completed his century Thursday and deemed his mission complete.

For the rest of us, that comes tomorrow when we dip into the Mississippi.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zero percent

Hey! Lonnie here writing under Ryan's account, since I can't get mine to work on his computer and I can't access the internet on mine. I promise to catch you up just as soon as I have reliable access. Photos too.

Suffice it to say, we've had an interesting week -- so far.

Simpson College gave its best effort to capitalize on Tuesday's ride into Indianola, but CoeBRAI jersey day stole the show. It rained as we were exiting Greenfield, but the sky finally cleared around 4 p.m. and the sun joined RAGBRAI.

In Indianola, we were expertly hosted by Coe parents Bill and Sherrie Engel, who teamed up with Coe parents Dave and Ellen Wellborn to provide an amazing meal. From there it was on to Chariton, where we didn't have a host. I drove the camper to secure a spot and biked half-way back -- an interesting experience, to say the least.

Though the forecast called for zero percent chance of rain, a thunderstorm greeted us this morning at 5 a.m. It cleared off quickly and allowed around 15 of us -- not me, but many of them -- to complete the optional century. Among the century riders was Bob Untiedt, who sagged Wednesday with a sore knee and contemplated going home. I still don't know what to make of his feat.

We're now in Ottumwa, hosted by Cornell grads and Coe parents Mike and Janet Vinyard. More rain in the late afternoon served only to dampen the recently dried tents. We enjoyed another amazing meal and were joined by future Coe Hall of Famer Tim Vinyard.

Tomorrow we're off to Mount Pleasant and the weather forecast looks promising. I'll believe it when I see it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A tough ride to Greenfield

I'm not gonna lie, today was tough. Brad even needed to shift off his big gear. Twice.

Me, I discovered granny missing on the way out of Red Oak, and didn't have her at my disposal all day. And what a miserable 72-mile day it was with the hills and the chills and the constant drizzle. It was enough to prompt me to buy rain gear upon arrival in Greenfield, where we have been treated like kings by our hosts Ralph and Erma Mitchell.

A sit-down dinner didn't pan out, but I'm pleased to have lunched at Subway in Corning, bypassing the carnival food frenzy.

Tomorrow we're off to Indianola and will be flying Coe colors en force. It's a bit longer and a bit less climb, with more downhills. The weather looks to be a lot like today.

I've yet to find a Fat Tire, so Chris Engel better greet me with a cold one or there may be trouble.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A sweet ride to Red Oak

RAGBRAI kicked off today with glorious weather and, for me, a mental health ride to Red Oak. I found the 52-mile journey most pleasant. The difficulty of the uphill rides was surpassed by the pleasure of the downhill runs.

I arrived in Red Oak shortly after noon after maintaining a 10 mph pace, including stops. I averaged 14.2 mph and completed the route in 3:39:36 -- a really good pace for me.

Just about everyone is in now. Katy and Andrew Borders and Brian Farrell just arrived to join the ride. The only mechanical issues I've heard of were Erik Albinson's numerous flats. A visit to the bike mechanic upon entering Red Oak uncovered shards of glass that was remedied by replacing his tires.

We're camping at Southwestern Community College and I'm pleased to be pirating their electricity and wireless Internet. I'm regretting, however, that my camper is leaking water.

Tomorrow we're off to Greenfield, a 72.6 mile journey with 5,096 feet of climb. Tonight's forecast calls for partly cloudy and 57 degrees. Tomorrow in Greenfield, mostly sunny and 79. If this weather pattern continues, everyone will do RAGBRAI.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rolling with it

What happens on RAGBRAI doesn't necessarily stay on RAGBRAI, but all of it could only happen in Iowa.

We arrived today in Council Bluffs only to find our host had moved to Colorado without our knowledge. What a shocking experience that had to be for our first time riders.

Anarchy was quickly avoided as across-the-street neighbors Jessica and Ryan Willer offered up their lawn and bathroom. Soon after, fresh-back-from-vacation neighbors Diane and Barry Glass offered up their lawn and camper. Soon after that, our original host contacted the current tenant, his cousin Shelby Albertson and high school classmate Nick Golden, and we had free reign of their house as well. A little while later, neighbor Denny came over to offer up his fire pit and horseshoe pit.

Try finding hospitality like that anywhere else. Riders and unintended hosts alike rolled with it.

We have yet to peddle a mile and I feel like we've already had the quintessential RAGBRAI moment. Or maybe it just gets better from here. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 17, 2009

On the eve of a great adventure

I've got a really good feeling about Team CoeBRAI 2009 after tonight's carbo load and pre-load. I'm excited about the relationships that will be rekindled and the new friendships established in the week ahead.

We loaded 20 of 27 bikes and I didn't even break a sweat. It didn't hurt that it was cool like a fall football Saturday.

Tomorrow, we finish loading and hit the road to Council Bluffs by 10 a.m. In Council Bluffs we'll be staying with 2006 Coe graduate Wyatt Yates.

Unfortunately, we're down to 34 full-time riders due to a last-minute cancellation. Phil Haynes, a 1983 Coe graduate from Lewisburg, PA, had to cancel because his mother is hospitalized. He had hoped she would improve so that he could join us for at least part of the ride, but that didn't pan out.

Tomorrow's forecast in Council Bluffs calls for sunny skies and 76 degrees. The overnight low will be a crisp 50 degrees. (What ever happened to summer?)

Sunday's forecast in Red Oak calls for sun and 79 degrees with a low of 58.

Monday's forecast in Greenfield calls for mostly cloudy and 79 with a low of 62.

Tuesday's forecast in Indianola calls for scattered thunderstorms and 76 with a low of 60.

Wednesday's forecast in Chariton calls for partly cloudy and 81 with a low of 63.

Thursday's forecast in Ottumwa calls for mostly sunny and 84 with a low of 66.

Friday's forecast in Mount Pleasant calls for scattered thunderstorms and 86 with a low of 67.

Saturday's forecast in Burlington calls for scattered thunderstorms and 83.

These forecasts are provided by weather.com, which is far more accurate than any TV meteorologist. If this pans out, I bet this is the coolest RAGBRAI on record.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thoughts after mile 303

Oh, boy, is RAGBRAI fun. Pain, grief, .....

WAIT: I'm resisting my 'inner Eeyore', no more of the death-&-gloom stuff I'm thinking about. Instead, here's my training history in 2009:

Miles 285-303: Highlight - attack by red-winged blackbird. Four times over two turns around a hilly spot (Dows Road to someplace to Hwy 13 to Mt. Vernon Road; a 3.75 mile slightly hilly terrain). Reliving Hitchcock, the 2nd time around, I took out my small tire pump and waived it at the bird. Do I look like an egg stealing varmit to you?

Miles 1-285: a blur. Some with Brian Farrell, some with Lonnie Zingula; I have a faint notion I did a 45 mile ride with Tina Turner - but that may have been while I was on 'Proud Marys' or some such. I know it was fun, involving Sutliffe Cider, rides past Toddville, and limited amounts of ice cream and pork. (not together.) (yet.)

Anyways, it comes whether one is adequately trained or not. I'll try to take it like a man, or perhaps a small male mouse. Looking forward to seeing all the good people, and the capitalist robber-barons of the COEBRAI team soon!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Team CoeBRAI on Twitter

Utilizing every tool imaginable to spread the word about Team CoeBRAI, we now have a Twitter presence. If you're a Twitter user, follow us at CoeBRAI. This will allow me to easily post photos and updates throughout the day, while still updating the blog at night. Tell your family and friends.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

13 days and counting down quick

After surpassing 600 training miles today on a wonderful 35-mile ride to Solon and back with Bob Untiedt, it dawned on me that we are less than two weeks from departure and I have a lot of work to do. Consequently, I’m taking my bike in for a tune-up tomorrow and may not ride again until we get to Council Bluffs.

A reminder to everyone that the second installment was due July 1. This is $175 for most full-time riders. If you ordered stuff from RAGBRAI and didn’t include it in your first payment, add it to the second payment. Part-time riders should contact me about how much is due. In all cases, checks should be made out to Coe College and sent to my attention at 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.

Hosts have been secured in five of seven overnight towns. At this point, it seems certain that we’ll be fending for ourselves in the RAGBRAI campgrounds at Red Oak and Chariton. Rest assured I will do my best to make this as painless as possible.

Here’s a quick rundown of the itinerary:

Friday, July 17 – 6 p.m. spaghetti dinner at Coe followed by loading of as many bikes as are ready to go. The dinner is free for CoeBRAI participants and $7 for guests. If you haven’t already, please let me know whether or not you will be attending and if you’ll be bringing guests. I need to get a somewhat accurate head count to food services.

Saturday, July 18 – Loading begins at 8 a.m. at Eby Fieldhouse on the Coe campus with a planned departure of 10 a.m. Lunch stop in Des Moines, where we will pick up driver Abby Masters. Late afternoon arrival in Council Bluffs, where we will be staying with Wyatt Yates, a 2006 Coe graduate. Wyatt has generously agreed to provide us with a barbeque dinner, complete with fresh vegetables from his grandpa’s farm. We will make arrangements to shuttle riders to RAGBRAI central to pick up bikes and/or attend the Barenaked Ladies concert.

Sunday, July 19 – 52.6 miles to Red Oak. We don’t have a host and I’m still trying to nail down a camping area. Trust me, there’s nothing I dislike more than biking all day and then having to ride around town looking for my team. If there’s any way possible, you will know your final destination before you leave Council Bluffs.

Monday, July 20 – 72.6 miles to Greenfield, where we will be hosted by Ralph and Erma Mitchell. We hooked up with the Mitchells after rider Judy Floy led them on a tour of Washington, D.C. They will also be hosting 14 riders in their house, but have ample shower facilities for us all. Dinner is on our own, but their land abuts the fairgrounds and is 3/4 –mile from downtown.

Tuesday, July 21 – 77.1 miles to Indianola, where we will be hosted by Bill and Sherrie Engel, parents of 2006 Coe graduate Chris Engel Fitzpatrick. The Engels are providing us with dinner and showers. They are located close to downtown as well. I’ve been looking forward to this stop since the route was announced.

Wednesday, July 22 – 44.4 miles to Chariton. Most likely we’ll be camping around the old armory (off 16th St. between Illion Ave. and Lucas Ave. It is close to showers, on the shuttle run, has porto-potties and some food options. There are no hook-ups for campers, but that only effects me.

Thursday, July 23 – 76.9 miles to Ottumwa, where we will be hosted by Mike and Janet Vinyard. Mike and Janet are Cornell graduates, but their son, Tim, graduated from Coe in 2002 and was a stellar quarterback for the Kohawk football team. They are providing showers and a grilled chicken dinner, but asked that we help with cooking and cleanup. The CoeBRAI standard is that when we leave a town, it looks like we were never there. I know this group will be no different.

Friday, July 24 – 75.5 miles to Mount Pleasant, where we will be hosted by Bitrus and Olabisi Gwamna, parents of Coe senior-to-be Duroje. The Gwamnas are accustomed to hosting large groups and will be providing dinner and showers. They are also located within walking distance of the town square.

Saturday, July 25 – 43.2 miles to Burlington. I will identify a spot for us all – you too, John Bowlin – to gather on the edge of town before making our descent, as a group, to the Mississippi. As we individually and collectively celebrate the accomplishment of biking across Iowa, this is the CoeBRAI moment that keeps me coming back for more. Don’t miss it.

We’ll then load up and high tail it back to Cedar Rapids for a mid-afternoon arrival.

Lastly, a handful of you still haven’t sent me the number of the cell phone you will have with you and also the name and number of your emergency contact. I will be handing out contact information to everyone so we can communicate on the road. If I don’t have your number, you will be left off the list.

A note about showers: our hosts have generously agreed to open their facilities to us. Let’s not abuse it. With 35 full-time riders, it would take six hours if everyone took a 10-minute shower. Please incorporate the five-minute shower into your training routine the next two weeks. I shave in the shower, and I’m still in and out in under five minutes, so I know it’s possible. (This does not apply in Red Oak and Chariton, where you’re welcome to linger in the cold shower as long as you like.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wear Your Helmet

A Cautionary Tale

Saturday morning I went out for a ride, looking to get in some quality miles before the heat and traffic built up later in the day. Time is getting short before Ragbrai and I don't know if it's anxiety or a competitive spirit that's starting to kick in, but I sure don't want to embarrass myself on the ride. I had a good training ride and was just turning into my driveway when I hit a wet spot and as a result of wet pavement, algae and mud the bike went out from under me. I've taken a spill from my bike before, but what was shocking about this tumble was how fast it happened. I wasn't even going that fast, as I was turning into my driveway, but one minute I was on the bike and the next I was on the ground. No time for recovery. No time to try and protect myself. Just Boom! and you're wondering how you wound up on the ground. Fortunately, I'm fine. My helmet tapped the ground, I've got some road rash and I'll be sore for a few days, but it certainly reminded me of why we wear helmets. Don't ever ride without yours.

I'm looking forward to meeting everyone in a few weeks. In the meantime, I've decided that the best remedy for road rash is alcohol, internally applied.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Worst. Vacation. Ever.

But enough about me.

Several things.

I received word that our jerseys are en route.

I've received word of a week-long cancellation, if you know of anyone.

I remind everyone that second installments are due July 1.

And, lastly, I haven't gotten nearly enough miles in this week but need to ride like never before.

I'd also like a place to stay in Red Oak and Chariton. How about you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mt Vernon Heritage Days Ride

If you are looking for a group ride with a bunch of RAGBRAIers then the Mt Vernon Heritage Days Ride on July 11th is your cup of tea. It's a 35 mile ride with beautiful scenery. Taken from the ride description:
Riders will meet at 9 AM in downtown Mount Vernon. This ride will go from Mount Vernon through Lisbon and south on the Sutliff Road toward Sutliff and on to Solon. Riders are welcome to stop at Sutliff on the way to and/or from Solon if they wish. From Solon, the ride returns on the same route. Sutliff Cider opens at 11 AM, is biker-friendly and is a great place to stop on the way back. The ride will end back in uptown Mount Vernon. Riders are encouraged to stay and enjoy the Heritage Days' music, beer garden, and food vendors.
I will probably be working at Sutliff Cider that day and would love to see a few CoeBRAI jerseys stop by. You can find more rides and information here:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Heat Training

Training report from Houston

Down here in Houston we are heavily into the heat training part of our schedule. The past two weeks have seen average afternoon temperatures at 95 degrees or hotter every day. If anyone wants lessons on how to sweat while on a bike, I am fully qualified. I am switching when I can to morning rides when it's only 85 (of course the humidity is 70 percent so I still sweat, but what can you do?) The only consolation is that when you get on a scale at the end of a ride, you register as a couple of pounds lighter than your real weight.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Early retirement?

Yep, I just reached that magical number: 62. That's right - it's mid-June, and I've logged 62 miles so far this year. Between six weeks in Ireland and a hectic schedule when I have been home, the opportunities have been few and far between.

It's important, however, to keep in mind that riding is only part of the RAGBRAI equation. I'm happy to report that I did manage to more or less eat my weight in pulled pork in New Orleans last weekend, and I think I'm okay on the beer front, too. How bad can it be if I've met my training goals in two of the three critical categories?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Food, folks and fun

I'm having the best year of my biking life, and not just because I'm logging more miles. I wouldn't trade this CoeBRAI experience for anything. The experiences we share and the friendships that develop are intensely rewarding.

Saturday night, for instance, I was able to have dinner with Gary and Gail Van Rooyan. Gary is an attorney in Houston who graduated from Coe in 1968. He and Gail are serious cyclists and really good people. As evidence, while visiting Cedar Rapids to visit Gary's daughter and celebrate a granddaughter's birthday, they made time to get together with me and my family.

Gary and Gail joined CoeBRAI in 2007, even though Gary was still recovering from a fall. Broken ribs as I recall. I was shocked to learn that, in addition to surviving Hurricane Ike in 2008, Gary suffered a serious bike accident. While biking in a group of 15, he was clipped by a semi hauling sod and spent a week in the hospital and three months in a wheelchair. Multiple fractures and a lengthy rehabilitation later, Gary is back on his bike and hoping to rejoin CoeBRAI in 2010.

While I remain accident-free (knock on wood), I can't imagine what it must be like to get back on the bike after such an experience. You are an inspiration, Gary, and I really hope you and Gail will join us again next year.

Today, I surpassed 400 miles on an awesome ride with 1985 Coe graduate and soon-to-be three-time CoeBRAI veteran Bob Untiedt. We ventured to Sutliff Cider, where we found fellow CoeBRAIers and Coe staffers Tom Hicks and Erik Albinson pressing apples. With stops at the cider company and Chameleons -- my favorite Mount Vernon eatery -- we covered 35 miles in about four hours.

I propose this as a group ride in the coming weeks. I'm in Wisconsin next weekend for a wedding and the following weekend is Coe's last June Reunion and Relay For Life, although my Sunday is open. I can't imagine a better way to celebrate Fathers' Day and the start of summer June 21. Any takers?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Training for Two?

I've only gotten in on ONE Friday ride so far; a series of workshops and other commitments has kept me away from my bike at noons on Fridays. I miss the rides, and hope, now that classes have ended and May term is well under way, I can get in some Friday miles.

I am getting some miles in, however. My six-year-old daughter Willa and I have been commuting to school/work by bike. We have a tag-along that attaches to the seat-post of my bike. For those unfamiliar, her tag-along is a single wheel, handle bars and pedals. For the past week, we've been riding together to school, where we leave the tag-along locked up, then I ride on to Coe. We reverse the ride in the afternoon. It's about 14 miles round trip depending upon our route, but I wonder if I get to count double-miles if I'm towing 65+ pounds for some of those miles?

Ride on.

A century week

How is your training going? I seem to be doing quite well, by my standards, although I didn't have the 100-mile weekend I hoped for. I did have a 100-mile week, though, and hope they'll continue, although Zach's baseball season opens tomorrow night.

I was able to ride to work and get in noon rides on the trail on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, accounting for 45+ miles. The weather forecast doesn't look promising early this week, although Thursday and Friday could be ideal.

I spent Memorial Day weekend at a friends cabin near Cascade, on the same brutal road to Bellevue that many of you experienced two years ago as I opted to drive under the guise of handling logistics. I'd like to think I've made up for it by biking 16.6 miles to Bernard and back after Saturday's rain and, mostly, 35.4 miles round trip to Cascade on Sunday.

I felt it this morning and nixed my plans for a breakfast ride to Bernard, but did bike 5.4 miles home after dropping the camper off to my mechanic. Much as I hoped and intended to ride at least 10 miles, rain clouds and wind convinced me to take the most direct route home.

So the weekend total was only 57.4 miles. For the week, 103.2. For the year, 363.5. That's six weeks ahead of last year's pace, when I totaled 378.8 miles (or so) before RAGBRAI. I've already surpassed 2007 (251.6 training miles) and 2006 (147.8). 2005's 380.3 miles should be topped by June.

Monday, May 18, 2009

RAGBRAI logistics

Our applications have been accepted. Our jerseys have been ordered. Our overnight hosts are a work in progress as we continue to seek housing in Red Oak and Chariton. Housing request forms have been mailed to both towns, but if anyone knows anyone, send them my way. Not much left to do now but train (I’ve got 260 miles in; how about you?).

I thought I’d take this opportunity to spell out some logistical matters you may be wondering about. Our group is bigger than ever, so loading will be interesting. Anyone who is planning to have their bike shipped can certainly ship it to me at Coe. But if you’re shipping it anyway, it makes more sense to ship it directly to Council Bluffs and then home from Burlington. That way we don’t have to load it and haul it across Iowa. Shipping information is available here.

I’m going to assume that all of you are riding with us from Cedar Rapids to Council Bluffs and back to Cedar Rapids from Burlington, although I know that’s not the case for some of you. Please inform me of your plans so we can plan accordingly. I learned tonight that we’ll be picking driver extraordinaire Abby Masters up on the way out in Des Moines, so that will be our lunch stop. Others in the Des Moines area may also want to consider this option.

We will be having a spaghetti dinner/pre-load opportunity on Friday, July 17 at Coe. Dinner at 6 p.m. followed by loading of as many bikes as are ready to go. (Free for CoeBRAI participants and $7 for guests. Please let me know whether or not you can attend and if you’ll be bringing guests.) This really makes things easier on Saturday and provides an opportunity to get to know your teammates. Loading begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 17 at Eby Fieldhouse on the Coe campus with a planned departure of 10 a.m. Those flying in may want to know that we’ll shoot for a late afternoon return to Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 25.

Housing may or may not be available at Coe before and/or after RAGBRAI for anyone who needs it. If you need accommodations, please let me know. In the past we’ve been able to put people up at Coe and I hope to offer that again this year. I just don’t know yet.

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.

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

Bicycle equipment: Helmet is #1. In four years of CoeBRAI, we’ve had zero helmetless riders and I have no intention of starting now. Bicycle shops can handle most any mechanical need you have (last year, my bike was repaired by the Iowa Conference football MVP), 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. As long as you get your bike serviced before RAGBRAI, 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 or I get off. 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 does 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. With the number of riders, I’m going to be strictly enforcing the one-tub-per-person rule. On RAGBRAI, less is more.)

Toiletries: Pack a towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, skin lotion, shampoo, soap, razor, nail clippers, brush/comb, hair ties/barrettes, deodorant, mirror and toilet tissue.

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. (Chamois Butter before and during, Gold Bond powder 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.

Or, just bring your cell phone. Service is usually epically spotty with the crush of people, and I expect nothing less in southern Iowa. But we will have charging stations available in camp. Please send me the number of the cell phone you will have with you and also the name and contact information of your emergency contact

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Be careful out there!

A fight over the road leads to a bloody mess at a Cedar Rapids Casey's.

Police say two brothers were riding their bikes on 8th Ave. SE this afternoon when a guy in a car drove up behind them and told them to get on the sidewalk.

The three men then pulled into the Casey's lot and the car and bicycles collided.

Jack Poohl, one of the men on a bike, then went to the car and punched in a window cutting his hand.

He told us he got a ticket for breaking the window and now he wants to know why the driver of the car didn't get a ticket for running into him.

He said, "The only reason I punched out the window was because I felt my life was in danger. If a cop had gotten hit, the cedar rapids police would have shot him."

The other man on the bike injured his wrist when he fell on the hood of the car.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Map my ride?

I've been celebrating Bike to Work week by biking while at work. On Sunday I biked to Zach's baseball games in Lisbon. Monday Tom accompanied me on a train-impacted trail ride to Hiawatha, so I could make a bank deposit. Today was a joy ride on the southern end of the trail with Tom and Eric.

Forty miles over the last three days has me at 250 for the year. I've already surpassed my RAGBRAI training miles of prior years, and it's only May.

Tomorrow looks like a washout, but Thursday looks ideal. The usual Friday ride is a game-time decision. Saturday looks to be a nice day if anyone wants to get together. I don't believe I have anything scheduled.

On Sunday, I've got a high school graduation gig in West Liberty. That seems a good opportunity to rack up 45 miles. Anyone want to accompany me for all or part (to Ely, for instance, and then out of Ely)? More importantly, does anyone know of a safe route from here to there? I've tried Mapquest, but highways seem inevitable.

Friday, May 1, 2009

2009 Bike to Work Month/Week/Day

Now that we're all official for RAGBRAI it's time to pick up the training. This year's Bike to Work Week is May 11-15 with Bike to Work Day on May 15th. Weather permitting, I'm hoping to saddle up for a brisk ride to and from CR that day. Should I pick anyone up along the way?

More information can be found here:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

We're in!

Anyone else get a similar e-mail tonight?


your wristband number is:
For more information on RAGBRAI logistics including bike shipping, airport shuttles, long-term parking and cross-state shuttles, please visit http://www.ragbrai.org/logistics.html.

We're in folks! Now we get serious.

I have loads of information to pass along, but not until everyone informs me of their jersey size and style. A little over half have responded.

Monday, April 27, 2009

By popular demand: Barenaked Ladies!

You asked for it, John Bowlin, and RAGBRAI delivered. That's right, big guy. Your virgin voyage was nudity free, except for when you dangled on the fence at the pool in Missouri Valley. For 2009, RAGBRAI presents the Barenaked Ladies!

RAGBRAI participants are eligible to purchase a special all-weekend pass (to the sixth annual Mid-America Ribfest), which includes the Barenaked Ladies concert for only $10.

Barenaked Ladies were founded in 1988 and hail from Toronto. In their 20-year
existence they have recorded 10 studio albums, a live album, released a greatest hitspackage and sold more than 14 million albums. The band has carved a niche amongst
music fans with such classic songs as “One Week,” “Pinch Me” and “If I Had

The band is a favorite of Buffalo native and CoeBRAI champion Tom Hicks. I'm also a fan and consider this a vast improvement over last year's Mr. Roboto. That it opens the ride is an interesting twist, but we'll manage, I'm sure.

The concert is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. on the eve or our 53-mile trek to Red Oak. In Council Bluffs, we'll be staying with Wyatt Yates, a 2006 graduate and alumni of the #4 wrestling team in the Division 3 nation. This will be a fun start!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Pools of RAGBRAI: 2009 Edition

Some of you asked for it, all of you get it. The pools on the 2009 RAGBRAI route have been plotted and ready to share with the world. Whether you're training for a triathlon (Katy), need a break from the sweltering heat, or want to find a way to "wash up" along the route cool pools of clear water can be the solution to many of your week-on-a-bike needs. Two of the benefits of wearing lycra for seven straight days is that it can double as a swimming suit and it dries quickly on the bike.
The pools are few and far between this year as might be expected but their rarity will afford them an almost oasis-like quality when you find one. In order to plan ahead, click on the picture above or on this link:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ride with Lonnie

Vacation day #2 and I logged a measly 2.6 miles (winds gusting to 50 mph at my back) home from the auto shop. I didn't get to ride with Phil on a windy and cold day that wasn't conducive to such pursuits anyway.

But the immediate future looks promising, and I'm going for it. If anyone wants to tag along, you're welcome.

Wednesday, 4/22 - noon to 2 p.m. departing from Coe. Sunny with temps rising from 58 to 62 and northwest winds at 15 mph. 25 miles.

Thursday, 4/23 - 4-6 p.m. departing from Ely with the boys. $2 Fat Tire special at the local pub. Partly cloudy with temps in the mid 70s and southeast winds at 20 mph. Distance to be determined.

Friday, 4/24 - noon ride departing from Clark Racquet Center on Coe's campus for as long as you can. Hopefully, I won't blow a tube this time. Isolated thunder storms and wind with a forecast high of 84! 10-20 miles, depending on your work status.

Saturday, 4/25 - if you happen to be in Sioux City, I'm planning a 10-12 a.m. ride before Zach's double-header. A few showers and a high of 59.

Sunday, 4/26 - back at home, I'll bike to Zach's games in Central City. 2-3 p.m. outbound. I won't make the round trip. Thunder showers and 69 in the forecast.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where's Phil?

Sutton, Nebraska according to his Web site. It's his third of five nights in Nebraska, which sounds painful. He'll only spend four nights in Iowa -- Sunday in Atlantic, Monday in Des Moines, Tuesday in Iowa City and Wednesday in Davenport. Details are lacking, but it now seems he'll leave Iowa City Wednesday morning. Since GNC is sponsoring the ride, I'm guessing Coral Ridge Mall or the Old Capital Center. I have the luxury of being on vacation, but if anyone else is available I would love some company.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Friday ride is on

With a forecast high temperature of 70, our Friday noon ride is on this week. Anyone interested and available should meet at Clark Racquet Center at noon. We'll ride from there to and from the trail for about an hour.

Also, if anyone wants to join me riding with Phil Koeghan from the Amazing Race, let me know. I believe I had my dates wrong and he'll actually be riding out of Iowa City on Tuesday, April 21. I would love to have company on the early morning drive to Iowa City.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Amazing Ride?

It's long past time for an update here and, since no one else has taken the leap, you get me again. If you haven't heard, Phil Koeghan from the Amazing Race is biking across the country to raise money for MS. He's scheduled to ride from Des Moines to Iowa City on Tuesday, April 21, and from Iowa City to Davenport on Wednesday, April 22. See the Web site for free registration info. Weather permitting, I'm tempted to escort him out of Iowa City.

Also, Friday noon rides from Clark Racquet Center at Coe will begin soon. The ride is on if the projected daytime high is 60 degrees and there's no precipitation at the time. We've also been invited to join the Lizard Kings on their Thursday night rides.

They usually leave Sammy's about 6:30 p.m. Thursday evenings and ride to The Red Frog and then to Jersey's and back down to the Chrome Horse. Some people make an evening of it. Others just meet and ride.

Saturday June 6 is the Miller Rock and Ride. I'll be out of town for a wedding, but it starts at the Chrome Horse. More info can be found on Bike Iowa at:


Monday, March 16, 2009

On the road again

The moons aligned Monday for the opening of my personal quest for a 1,500 mile year. That may not sound like much, particularly for those of you south of here, but only the hardiest Iowans -- and the unlicensed -- ride outdoors from October through March.

A year ago, I got a head start logging 70 miles outdoors while vacationing in Florida. Twelve miles on March 31 were my first of 2008. I didn't ride in Iowa until April 23.

The year before, I rode nearly 25 miles over the last four days of March -- seven meaningless miles within my 1.5 mile circus of comfort and the rest at Lake Ozark State Park in Missouri. My first serious Iowa ride was April 22.

So March 16 stands as a personal best, and that it measured 22 miles is perhaps indicative of my level of cabin fever. With temperatures in the high 60s -- and after returning late from a great rock concert in Moline -- a day off was in order.

Road avoidant this time of year, I took the trail north to its pavement end. It was windy, particularly on the return, but I'm not complaining. Tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer, followed by the expected not-so-nice.

Vacation anyone?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The art of biking

Little Bohemia, the beloved Cedar Rapids tavern that was the subject of a 1944 painting by 1914 Coe graduate and longtime professor Marvin Cone, is going on RAGBRAI. The reputed former hangout of Cone and Grant Wood remains closed while the owner works to recover from last June’s flood. Cone’s painting is on permanent display in Stewart Memorial Library at Coe.

And now, thanks to the skills of Coe graphic designer Christina Kroemer, it is featured on the 2009 CoeBRAI jersey. Christina’s jersey design has been submitted to Champion Systems and I’ve begun taking orders.

Each weeklong rider who was part of our group registration gets one free jersey. Please let me know what size and style you would like (long, short or no sleeve).

Anyone else is welcome to buy a jersey -- $60 for short sleeve and sleeveless, $65 for long sleeve. To place an order, go to our Web site and click on the “jersey order” tab. Sizing information is also available there. All orders must be received by May 15 and will be shipped, along with a complementary CoeBRAI license plate, by mid July.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oh, the places we will go

The 37th Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, from July 19 to 25, cuts a 442-mile route through the southern half of the state, with overnight stops in Council Bluffs, Red Oak, Greenfield, Indianola, Chariton, Ottumwa, and Mount Pleasant before ending in Burlington. An average of about nine years has passed since these towns last hosted the ride, with Indianola making its debut as an overnight stop. The Des Moines Registered has revealed the full route for RAGBRAI XXXVII (click link for full map).

Here's a day-by-day summary:

Sunday, July 19 -- Council Bluffs to Red Oak by way of Mineola, Henderson and Emerson. Climb: 3,684 feet. Distance: 52.6 miles.

Monday, July 20 -- Red Oak to Greenfield by way of Stanton, Villisca, Nodaway (sounds like an ideal napping stop to me), Corning, Prescott, Williamson and Fontanelle. Climb: 5,096 feet. Distance: 72.6 miles.

Tuesday, July 21 -- Greenfield to Indianola by way of Orient, Macksburg, East Peru, Truro, St. Charles, St. Marys, Martensdale and Prole. Climb: 4,470 feet. Distance: 77.1 miles.

Wednesday, July 22 -- Indianola to Chariton by way of Ackworth, Sandyville, Milo, Lacona and Oakley. Climb: 2,182 feet. Distance: 44.4 miles. (After reviewing the daily mileages and climbs, I think I'll propose Chariton as the location for our kickball showdown with Wartburg.)

Thursday, July 23 -- Chariton to Ottumwa by way of Millerton, Bethlehem, Confidence, Iconium, Honey Creek Resort, (the optional Karras Century Loop at Lake Rathbun), Moravia, Unionville and Blakesburg. Climb: 3,388 feet. Distance: 76.9 miles. (For those who opt for this day's century, I take it as a good sign that we'll first be making a pilgrimage to Bethlemen before taking in a dose of Confidence.)

Friday, July 24 -- Ottumwa to Mount Pleasant by way of Hedrick, Martinsburg, Pekin, Packwood, Pleasant Plain, Brighton, Germanville and Lockridge. Climb: 2,841 feet. Distance: 75.5 miles.

Saturday, July 25 -- Mount Pleasant to Burlington by way of New London, Lowell and Geode State Park. Climb: 1,145 feet. Distance: 43.2 miles.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The First of March is Come...

And with it, the deadline for joining Team CoeBRAI for 2009. We may make accommodations for a few additional teamless riders, but they'll have to be registered independently with RAGBRAI. It's not unusual for cancellations to occur between now and July either.

I'll soon be closing the team, submitting our group registration and mailing waivers and payment to RAGBRAI. Then it's just a matter of waiting until lottery results are posted May 1. Meanwhile, I'll be working with my Coe colleagues on housing, jerseys and other logistical items.

Your work is done (assuming waivers and payments are en route from the five I have not yet collected) for now. For 39 of 44 participants (including full- and part-time riders and support staff) to have met our early deadline is amazing.

Credit the Ely boys for suggesting what became Friday night's CoeBRAI Waiver Party. Over the course of three hours, 14 of us gathered in solidarity at a downtown bar. After taking care of the waiver and payment business, we got down to the business of connecting, reconnecting, retelling stories and proposing training rides. I left feeling really good about RAGBRAI 2009 -- and really full. Needless to say, the CoeBRAI Waiver Party is a new tradition.

As it stands tonight, Team CoeBRAI consists of a record 36 full-time riders. Two of five "part-timers" are so classified simply because they'll miss day one. Returning from 2008 (and 2007, in her case) are Andrew and Katy Borders, who will join us in Red Oak and ride out the balance of the week before departing from Burlington for Chicago.

Counting them, we're a mix of 17 Coe alumni, five faculty and staff, and 14 spouses, siblings, offspring, parents and friends of alumni, faculty and staff. We range in age from 11-year-old Jeremiah Ogle (who, along with his 15-year-old brother, Nate, will accompany his dad, Kevin, a 1983 Coe grad and a veteran of the last two CoeBRAI teams) to 59-year-old John Palizza, a 1972 Coe grad living in Houston. In addition to 28 Iowa residents, riders hail from North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Washington, D.C.

That doesn't even count Abby Masters, who couldn't resist the urge to return as a driver despite relocating to South Carolina after last year's RAGBRAI. Sharing the duty will be Coe Sports Information Director Ryan Workman, who caught the big while visiting our stop at the Upah farm in Toledo last year. Ryan scored one of our runs in our pathetic kickball performance against Wartburg and is looking for Team CoeBRAI to step up its game this year.

While I'm identifying your support staff, my wife, Lisa, will again pilot our camper, Hope, and pitch in as conditions and her mood warrant (she's not paid, after all). Karissa may or may not bring a friend, but you can count on her to contribute to the cause. Zach will be away at a church mission trip to New Orleans.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Payment procedure

I just wanted to remind everyone as you are sending in your payments to make checks payable to Coe College with Team CoeBRAI in the memo line. $200 is due March 1 along with your signed waiver. Also, if you ordered a RAGBRAI jersey or souvenir pack, please include the cost in your initial payment. Final payment of $175 is not due until July 1. Payments should be send to my attention at Coe College, 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bowlin for kids' sake

While not exactly a fundraiser, it'll certainly be a fun-raiser with John Bowlin returning for his second consecutive torture tour. Instead of bringing a girl, this time he's bringing fellow 2007 grad TKEs Joe Greenwood and Jase Jensen.

John was often the life of the party last year -- even when the party was asleep -- and 2009 promises more of the same. I don't mean to sound an alarm for anyone -- from what I know of these three guys, John is the wildest -- but the Ely boys better bring their "A" game.

All of this is a way of saying, holy smokes am I amazed at the response!

Joe and Jase make the 27th and 28th registered members of Team CoeBRAI. I have another 20 people on the radar, but expect maybe another half dozen entries. While our intention was to cap the team at 30 full-time riders, don't worry. Just register and we'll sort it out later.

We ordered a bigger bus and a bigger truck today to ensure we can accommodate a bigger group. But we do have limits. Initial payments aren't due until March 1, but please don't wait until then to register. RAGBRAI isn't until July, but these are critical times for team captains.

Monday, February 16, 2009

9 spots left

Assuming we follow through on our threat to cap Team CoeBRAI at 30 full-week riders (a number driven by logistics), there are only nine spots left after today's flurry of registration activity. Good work, team!

I also added four names to the interest list, including three full-week riders. One of them has registered already (he lives in Omaha, so the Council Bluffs start has to be appealing) and the other two should be considered co-founders -- along with Tony Bata -- for the modern-day Team CoeBRAI.

Academic Technologist Lisa Wiebenga Stroschine and her husband, Jamey, were CoeBRAI pioneers in 2005. Lisa and Director of Academic Computing Tony Bata led the effort in 2005 and 2006. They made the perfect team with Lisa's organizational skills and Tony's culinary skills. Oh, the food! And Jamey saved my butt on more than one occasion with his bike repair skills.

Back then we fought for ourselves in RAGBRAI campgrounds, but were assured the finest meal served in each overnight town, courtesy of Tony, who doubled as our support driver. Those were good days.

And after taking a few years off RAGBRAI for rides in other states, Lisa and Jamey are back! Lisa delivered their second child, Cam, just recently and is on maternity leave. Imagine my surprise when her e-mail arrived today announcing their return.

The Team CoeBRAI experience has evolved over the years (this will be our fifth). We've traded RAGBRAI campgrounds for residential lawns. Instead of Tony's cooking, we hope for generous hosts or fend for ourselves. We rarely pay $5 for a cold shower. Thanks to the generosity of hosts from the Coe family, we enjoy a uniquely Coe experience within the RAGBRAI experience.

Lisa and Jamey, Susan and Nick, Steve, Steve and me represent the "old guard". I can hardly wait. Get off your teeter-totter and register!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A fortnight until CoeBRAI registration deadline

That’s right, in just two short weeks I’ll be finalizing the roster for Team CoeBRAI 2009. Around 40 people have expressed interest in participating with the official Coe College team on RAGBRAI XXXVII, but only 16 have registered here. Six people have sent me their initial payment of $200, which is due by March 1 along with a signed waiver, which you will receive upon registering. The remaining $175 will be due July 1.

I know it’s difficult to make plans for July in February, but logistics require that we follow this timetable and it is our policy that all participants must be registered. If you are still planning to join, could you let me know and fill out a registration? If you are no longer interested, let me know and I’ll stop badgering you.

For those who can only manage a couple days, we can accommodate part-time riders also at a fee of $50 per day. Half of the total is due March 1, along with your online registration and signed waiver. The remaining half will be due July 1.
As space allows, transportation may also be available from Cedar Rapids to Council Bluffs on July 18 ($100) and/or from Burlington to Cedar Rapids on July 25 ($50).

Registered CoeBRAI riders who must cancel for any reason will receive refunds according to the following sliding scale: 75 percent on or before May 1, 50 percent on or before June 1 and 25 percent on or before July 1. While we understand that life happens, we must insist on a no-refund policy for cancellations after July 1. (In other words, by registering now and paying the initial $200, you're only risking $50 by May 1, $100 by June 1 and $150 by July 1.)

RAGBRAI XXXVII cuts a 442-mile route through the southern half of the state. Beginning in Council Bluffs on July 18, the ride will stop in Red Oak (July 19), Greenfield (July 20), Indianola (July 21), Chariton (July 22), Ottumwa (July 23), and Mt. Pleasant (July 24) before ending in Burlington on July 25. It's the sixth-shortest route of all time and the 22,806 total feet of climb ranks as the 10th most in RAGBRAI history.

We are again actively seeking hosts from among the Coe family at each of the overnight towns. If you know someone in one of the overnights who would like to host us, send me their contact information.

You’ve got two weeks to register online. After creating your profile (or logging in to your RAGBRAI account for veterans), you should choose to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send signed waivers or any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, the group contact. Checks should be made payable to Coe College.

Although the Register's online entry deadline is April 1, we encourage you to meet our March 1 deadline for the initial payment so that we can have a handle on the number of participants, which will be capped at 30.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me. Information will also be communicated on our Web site and on this blog.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bob's Your Uncle

That's the name of a popular Iowa City restaurant that I haven't frequented, but am constantly tempted solely because it makes me think of Bob Untiedt, everyone's favorite uncle. You see, Uncle Bob signed on for RAGBRAI XVII today -- the third in a row.

Ironically (for you triskaidekaphobiacs), he's the 13th person to register for Team CoeBRAI. I'm registered, obviously, though I wasn't even the first. That honor goes to RAGBRAI veteran but CoeBRAI newcomer Jacquelyn Burmeister, the mother of the new graphic designer in our office, Christina Kroemer. Jacquelyn celebrates a milestone birthday Feb. 20 and invites us all to help celebrate her 55th at the Piano Bar after work.

"I will be strolling down the street from my work to the Piano Bar for an after work birthday Martini...will probably be there for about an hour or so (I'm a slow sipper)...so, if any of you CoeBRAI'rs would like to stop by, I'd love to meet ya's! Hopefully I'll recognize some faces on the trail this spring/summer before RAGBRAI," she said in an e-mail.

So who else has signed on for 2009?

Bob Beer, Coe class of 1983, who is apparently a RAGBRAI veteran who heard good things about our group. He's bringing along his friends Mike Weepie and Glen Wiltgen. I don't know any of them, but I didn't know the Ely boys last year either.

They'll be back in full force. Ringleader Chris Boyd, a 2001 master's in teaching grad, is registered along with his brother, Danny. Also returning from the Ely boys are Mike Estenson and Brett Henecke. If you rode in 2008, you know this is good news.

Brian Farrell is back for a third straight year and continues to work on his wife, a Coe psychology prof. Sara drove in 2007 and biked a couple sweet days in 2008. We're all hoping this is the year she stops testing the water and dives in.

Back after a year's hiatus are Michael Albers and Meg Reid. Mike, a 1980 grad, rode the oldest bike I've ever seen on RAGBRAI in 2007. I understand he's upgraded for 2009. Meg, a 1988 grad, also rode in 2007 and gained the incredible sense of accomplishment that comes with biking Iowa coast-to-coast. She intended to return last year, but had to cancel. I'm thrilled to see her back on the roster for 2009.

So 13 of 36 who have expressed interest are registered. What about the rest of you?

Friday, January 30, 2009


Today’s Register included a bit more information about this year’s ride that I thought I’d share. When they said it’s going to be just as hilly as last year, they weren’t kidding.

At 442.3 miles, this year’s ride is nearly 29 miles shorter than 2008. However, 22,806 feet of climb is just 306 feet more than last year. Proper training will be critical to your enjoyment of the RAGBRAI experience.

Here’s a day-by-day comparison of 2009 vs. 2008:

We’ll begin our journey in Council Bluffs (population: 61,324), which previously hosted RAGBRAI in 1974, 1986, 1994 and 2000. Fast fact: The Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge (opened Sept. 28, 2008) is the longest pedestrian bridge to link two states.

Day 1: Sunday, July 19 – Council Bluffs to Red Oak (population: 6,197)
Distance: 52.6 miles
Climb: 3,684 feet

In 2008, Missouri Valley to Harlan covered 59 miles and 3,797 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Red Oak is proud of its Victorian homes and turn-of-the-century courthouse. The Wilson Performing Arts Center opens this year. Red Oak has hosted RAGBRAI in 1976, 1986 and 1997.

Day 2: Monday, July 20 – Red Oak to Greenfield (population: 2,129)
Distance: 72.6 miles
Climb: 5,096 feet (the most of any day this year)

In 2008, Harlan to Jefferson covered 83 miles and 5,239 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Greenfield’s painted Patriot Rock honors those who have served in the military. The town is also home to the Iowa Aviation Museum. Greenfield has hosted RAGBRAI in 1981 and 2000 and was a pass-through town in 1984.

Day 3: Tuesday, July 21 – Greenfield to Indianola (population: 14,156)
Distance: 77.1 miles (the most of any day this year)
Climb: 4,470 feet

In 2008, Jefferson to Ames covered 57 miles and 1,377 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Thousands come to Indianola each year for the National Balloon Classic. It’s also the hometown of legendary RAGBRAI rider Clarence Pickard and home to Coe’s Iowa Conference rivals Simpson College. Indianola has never hosted RAGBRAI, but was a pass-through town in 1997.

Day 4: Wednesday, July 22 – Indianola to Chariton (population: 4,573)
Distance: 44.4 miles
Climb: 2,182 feet

In 2008, Ames to Tama/Toledo covered 78 miles and 2,869 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: The 9.5-mile Cinder Path is Iowa’s oldest railroad-converted trail, having been established by the county conservation board after the rail line was abandoned in 1972. Chariton hosted RAGBRAI in 1997.

Day 5: Thursday, July 23 – Chariton to Ottumwa (population: 24,998)
Distance: 76.9 miles
Climb: 3,388 feet

In 2008, Tama/Toledo to North Liberty covered 76 miles and 3,123 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: The Bridge View Center offers views of the Des Moines River. The city is the hometown of actor Tom Arnold and the fictional home of Radar O’Reilly of the TV show M*A*S*H. Ottumwa hosted RAGBRAI in 1984 and 2000.

Day 6: Friday, July 24 – Ottumwa to Mount Pleasant (population: 8,751)
Distance: 75.5 miles
Climb: 2,841 feet

In 2008, North Liberty to Tipton covered 65 miles and 3,051 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Mount Pleasant hosts an Old Threshers Reunion and is the former home of former Iowa governor and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The city hosted RAGBRAI in 1975, 1984, 1992 and 2003 and was a pass-through town in 1979.

Day 7: Saturday, July 25 – Mount Pleasant to Burlington (population: 26,839)
Distance: 43.2 miles
Climb: 1,145 feet

In 2008, Tipton to Le Claire covered 53 miles and 1,835 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Burlington hosts Steamboat Days and is home to “the crookedest street in the world,” where the Snake Alley Criterium Bike Race is held. Burlington hosted RAGBRAI in 1979, 1984, 1990 and 2000.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

RAGBRAI heading south

As nearly everyone predicted, RAGBRAI is heading south this year and according to organizers, it's going to be just as hilly as it was last year.

The 37th Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, from July 19-25, cuts a 442-mile route through the southern half of the state. Beginning in Council Bluffs on July 18, the ride will stop in Red Oak, Greenfield, Indianola, Chariton, Ottumwa, and Mt. Pleasant before ending in Burlington on July 25.

"You go south and people just assume it's going to be really hilly, but this year will be pretty close to last year," said RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz. "It's the sixth-shortest route of all time, and it'll be an extremely scenic adventure." The 22,806 total feet of climb ranks as the 10th most in RAGBRAI history.

I'm not too familiar with southern Iowa, although I did live and work in Burlington for a week two decades ago (and paid rent for several months, but that's a story for another time). I'm probably most familiar with Indianola, where my son has played in baseball tournaments and where I've attended several Coe sporting events at Simpson College. As a kid, I went to a high school football game in Ottumwa. As I recall, they had a loose meat sandwich restaurant of regional fame. It's also where we wound up watching a Packer game this season en route home from my nephew's wedding in Columbia. We couldn't find a restaurant with NFL Sunday ticket anywhere in Missouri. Mt. Pleasant has an Amtrak Station for those of you traveling from out of state.

That's my route preview, for the time being. Make this your year to join the official Coe College team on the adventure of a lifetime. Please fill out the information form here and we'll keep you posted as plans develop.

If you've already completed the interest form and are ready to join, you may register online here. After creating your profile (or logging in to your RAGBRAI account for veterans), you should choose to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send signed waivers or any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, the group contact.

Also, if you are from one of the overnight towns and would like to host Team CoeBRAI in your community, please let us know.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

yeah, ok

Everyone knows that Lonnie is a great Captain and a fine figure of a human being.

AND: everyone knows that his overwhelming enthusiasm for last summer's ride was fueled by his impressive weight loss, likely suspicious substance use, and sheer delusion. Last years' RAGBRAI was a feast of suffering, a surfeit of pain, and a regular grito de dolores, if I may misuse that phrase.

So....while I am now registering for the 2009 Painfest-on-Wheels-with-occasional-pie-tasty-pork-and-naps-by-the-dumpsters, I want to issue this caveat. IF, between now and then I'm approached by a woman of modest wealth, good values, and a knock-you-dead sense of humor (oops, I'm over hyphenating here - sorry) (sorry for that hyphen, too, and these parenthesis now...)(and those ellipsis. I need to stop!).....well, I'll go elsewhere with her, if she asks.

Just so you know. Otherwise, I'll look forward to seeing all y'all!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let the registrations begin

I wanted to be sure to give anyone who is considering riding RAGBRAI this year the opportunity to join the Coe College team. The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is scheduled for July 19-25, 2009. The formal registration process is now underway.

Fees have been set at $375 (a $25 increase over 2008). Of this, $200 is due to Coe by March 1, along with payment for any merchandise you order from RAGBRAI, your completed (online) entry form and signed waiver from the RAGBRAI Web site. The remaining $175 will be due July 1.

The fee includes the official $140 RAGBRAI entry fee (a $15 increase over 2008), a Team CoeBRAI jersey and license plate, bus transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns, and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop.

Additionally, participants should plan to spend $20-$30 per day on food and beverages, bike repairs, showers, etc. Participants will also be able to hire our drivers to set up and/or tear down tents for an extra fee to be negotiated with individual riders who are interested in such a service.

RAGBRAI begins somewhere near Iowa's western border and ends along the eastern border at the Mississippi River. Overnight towns will be announced soon in the Des Moines Register. Again this year, we will seek hosts from among the Coe community at each of the overnight towns.

The first step is to fill out the interest form at the CoeBRAI Web site. Once you're ready to join, you may register online. After creating your profile (or logging in to your RAGBRAI account for veterans), you should choose to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send signed waivers or any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, the group contact.

Although the online entry deadline is April 1, we encourage you to meet our March 1 deadline for the initial payment so that we can have a handle on the number of participants, which will be capped at 30. Registered riders who must cancel for any reason will receive refunds according to the following sliding scale: 75% on or before May 1, 50% on or before June 1 and 25% on or before July 1. While we understand that life happens, we must insist on a no-refund policy for cancellations after July 1.

I hope that's enough information to get you started. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact me. Information will also be communicated on our Web site and on this blog.

Ride on!

Lonnie Zingula
Team CoeBRAI captain

Friday, January 2, 2009


So, tonight I complete my online registration for RAGBRAI (not due until March 1 for CoeBRAI participants) and discover the entry fee has increased $15 to $140. In September, we agreed not to raise our $350 team fee. The RAGBRAI portion of the increase was quietly announced in November, but I didn't catch it.

Meanwhile, much has changed. So, though I still must consult with my committee, I would anticipate a modest increase to no more than $400. It's still a bargain for a vacation of a lifetime, but we have to be realistic.

Various Coe departments have generously supported Team CoeBRAI in past years. Following the June flood and subsequent economic downturn, it seems foolhardy to expect the same level of institutional support.

The fee includes the official $140 RAGBRAI entry fee (a $15 increase over 2008), a custom 2009 Team CoeBRAI jersey and license plate, bus transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns, and snack and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop. It also includes variable and negotiable accommodations with Coe alumni, parents and friends at yet-to-be announced overnight stops along the way. (Our record in this regard has been nothing short of spectacular and there's no reason to doubt the generosity of Kohawks!)

I do hope you'll join us for what, for me and Team CoeBRAI, will be the fifth annual effort. To date, 14 people have officially expressed interest. Among them, six are participants from 2008 and five from 2007. How about penciling in July 19-25 on your calendar?