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.