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: