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.)

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