Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 5: Altoona to Grinnell

Quick update from my tent in Grinnell while I begin thinking about an exit strategy -- both short and long term.

Granny returned to RAGBRAI today, and she brought Mother Nature with her. Granny, in this case, is the gear used to navigate hills, which reappeared on the route after a two day absence. Meanwhile, besides heat, we had our first weather threat of the week -- rain upon arrival way back in Glenwood doesn't count -- though cloudbursts were about all that resulted.

The 57 miles from Altoona to Grinnell were a never ending series of rolling hills. Cloud cover, even if threatening rain, helped keep temperatures as cool as they've been all week.

Coe Webmaster Andy Molison greeted us in Grinnell, where we were hosted most capably by his grandma, Carol and father, Bill. Tomorrow I'm hoping for a big showing by Kohawk Nation as we fly the Coe College jerseys on school spirit day in Coralville. Be sure to stop by the Kohawk tent outside the Coralville city limits for a cold beverage and a warm welcome.

Mississippi River flooding further up the road in Davenport increases uncertainty surrounding the finish of this great adventure -- but I choose not to think about that just yet. My more immediate concern is my Garmin bike computer, which picked the worst possible time to decide to quit working. If that weren't enough, I have to teach these knuckleheads how to tie a bandana.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 4: Boone to Altoona

It's hot.

But the food is good.

Today I reached out for a Farm Boys breakfast burrito. For lunch, I happened upon a good old fashioned Iowa Maid-Rite. Grilled chicken was the main course of the feast prepared by our Altoona hosts, Doug and Darla Keast and family.

That the Keasts could make the effort to host our merry band while participating in RAGBRAI themselves defies logic.

Did I mention it's hot?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 3: Carroll to Boone

Team CoeBRAI came chuggin' into Boone on a gloriously fast and flat track from Carroll. Several riders took advantage of the opportunity for a century by adding the optional Karras Loop to an otherwise 71-mile day. All had to ascend Twister hill -- from the movie of the same name -- outside Pilot Mound.

Patches and buttons offered as rewards paled as prizes compared to the lasagne dinner prepared by our host Kathy Workman, mother of CoeBRAI driver and Coe Sports Information Director Ryan Workman. More hot and sunny weather greeted the great bike ride across Iowa as we avoided precipitation for yet another day.

The longest ride of the week is followed immediately by the shortest as the route to Altoona covers "only" 56 miles. With "just" 1,147 feet of climb, it should be a nice stretcher as we pass Interstate 35 -- the traditional midpoint of RAGBRAI -- and continue our pursuit of the Mississippi River.

Our Altoona hosts are Coe parents Doug and Darla Keast who, with their kids, are biking across Iowa as well. It'll be interesting to see how they pull that one off, knowing all the logistical planning required for a successful journey.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 2: Atlantic to Carroll

Day 2 offered a scenic 65-mile ride from Atlantic to Carroll. After a comfortable stay with Coe parent Mary Paasch, we found our way to the home of John and Jackie Kitch. The Kitch's are family friends of CoeBRAI veteran Judy Floy.

The consensus is that today's ride, while longer by six miles and hillier by 400 feet, was a marked improvement over Sunday. Even longtime Iowans were impressed by panoramic views on a route that passed through Elk Horn, Kimbalton, Manning, Templeton, Dedham and Willey.

Overcast conditions prevailed until noon, helping to keep temperatures at bay. The sun came out for the afternoon and temperatures climbed sufficiently to make the spring fed pond at the edge of Carroll an attractive draw.

Tuesday takes us to Boone and offers a mere 1,787 feet of climb over 70.9 miles -- or 100 for those opting to take the Karras Loop for a century.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 1: Glenwood to Atlantic

RAGBRAI 2011 kicked off with 60 hot and hilly miles from Glenwood to Atlantic. Keith and Betsy Forman gave us a great sendoff from Glenwood, where early evening storms provided some degree of relief from high humidity. In Atlantic we're being hosted by Mary Paasch, the mother of 2006 Coe alumnus and current Admission staffer Chris Paasch.

Finally whole after being joined by Roger Bear, our support crew (pictured in event-appropriate glasses) of Abby Masters '08, Sports Information Director Ryan Workman and CoeBRAI spouse Lisa Zingula is also in full force.

Tomorrow's ride to Carroll features Manning as a meeting town. I have some history in Manning and am hoping to avoid riding in a cattle truck this time through.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Eve of another great adventure

The remodeled P.U.B. hosted the annual CoeBRAI pre-ride carboload as veterans shared stories from RAGBRAIs past and rookies received their appropriate markings. Senior Development Officer Dan Breitbach welcomed the group to Coe and Head Football Coach Steve Staker provided words of encouragement. I'm excited to see how the week unfolds as the planning efforts of the past year are put to the test. Though I sense apprehension among some rookies, experience tells me we've got a good group. Let the memory making begin!

Friday, July 15, 2011

With rights comes responsibility

CoeBRAI Riders Bill of Rights

What could be better than spending seven days riding across 454 miles of beautiful Iowa countryside, seven nights camping with 10,000 of your closest spandex-clad friends, and eating enough calories to negate each day of cycling? RAGBRAI is a wonderful experience; however, when you add the heat, strenuous exercise, soreness, 21,206 feet of climb, and throngs of humanity, it will challenge even the hardcore cyclists. Throw in communal living, shared facilities, outdoor living, the inevitable weather event, and the mental challenges can make the biking seem like a ride in the park. Be a good teammate and we’ll all arrive at the Mississippi River with a genuine sense of accomplishment and a bond with new friends that you never imagined.

Team CoeBRAI riders are endowed with certain unalienable rights (and responsibilities), that among these are…

The right to a quiet campground and undisturbed sleep:
--Most riders want to get a good night’s sleep. Please keep the campgrounds reasonably quiet and keep the noise down after 9 p.m. This is especially important if you are coming back to camp late after enjoying the festivities of the host town. Keep in mind that many riders are on the road at 6 a.m. Be as courteous to them late at night as you want them to be early in the morning.

The right to enjoy the company of gracious host families
--CoeBRAI is fortunate to be able to camp at the homes of various alumni and friends. Here are a few ways to show your appreciation for their hospitality:
--The camp site should be left cleaner than we found it. Please pick up after yourself, and respect the property of our benevolent host families.
--Dinner will be served from 6–7 p.m. Anyone arriving after that time will be on their own for dinner. Plan ahead for this contingency.
--Please keep your showers to a maximum of 5 minutes to avoid overloading the host families’ facilities and so others need not wait all night for a turn.
--Thank them!

The right to be respected:
--The Coe staff and faculty on this trip are on vacation too; so, please pitch-in and help around camp.
--The drivers are paid, but they have specific responsibilities. They drive the truck, stake out our camp site each day, shop for groceries and keep the water jugs filled.
--The drivers will set-up and tear down your tent all week for an extra fee. ($50 for 1-4 person sized tent and $75 for 5+ person sized tent. Note: the size of the tent, not the number of occupants, is the determining factor.)
--The drivers will go shopping for you if you give them money. No CoeBRAI funds will be used to purchase alcohol. Legal age riders may bring their own alcoholic beverages or have the drivers make purchases for them and bring it back to camp.
--The drivers transport gear from site to site; however, it is not their job to load your equipment. Please load your gear onto (not beside) the truck before departing each morning.
--You signed up to ride your bike, so take full advantage of the opportunity. If you feel the need to ride the truck for a day or two, consider yourself part of the support team and pitch in as you are able. On the same note, non-bikers should shower during the day before riders begin to arrive.
--Team CoeBRAI strives to be good stewards of our environment. Please help us minimize waste by making use of reusable cups provided in camp.
--Be polite. Be kind. Be laid back. The spirit of RAGBRAI is about having good times with good people. Keep in mind that you are representing Coe College. All behavior – good and bad – reflects on the sponsoring institution.
--Please respect others people’s property. The good natured vibe of RAGBRAI creates an environment where there are thousands of expensive bikes and gear laying around unattended with very few thefts.

The right to have fun!
--Remember the RAGBRAI credo: If you’re not having fun yet, lower your expectations.
--Team CoeBRAI motto: Roll with it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vacation itinerary

As the calendar turns to July, it’s time to get serious about this adventure called RAGBRAI.

We learn from the experience every year and you are the beneficiaries of six years of experience and a veteran support staff. My wife, Lisa, Coe SID Ryan Workman and 2006 Coe graduate Abby Masters return again this year to take care of all our off-bike needs.

Hosts have been secured in all seven overnight towns!

Here’s a quick rundown of the itinerary:

Friday, July 22 – 6 p.m. spaghetti dinner at Coe followed by loading of as many bikes as are ready to go. 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 Sodexo. This is where you will receive your rider packets, including wrist and bike bands, CoeBRAI jersey and route maps, including turn by turn directions to our overnight accommodations.

Saturday, July 23 – Loading begins at 8 a.m. at Eby Fieldhouse on the Coe campus with a planned departure of 10 a.m. Riders who preloaded need not arrive until 9 a.m. Quick lunch stop en route. Late afternoon arrival in Glenwood, where we will be staying with newlyweds Keith and Betsy Foreman. Dinner on our own.

Sunday, July 24 – 64.2 miles to Atlantic, where we will be staying with Mary Paasch, mother of 2006 Coe graduate and current admission staffer Chris Paasch. Dinner provided.

Monday, July 25 – 65.4 miles to Carroll, where we will be staying with John and Jackie Kitch, friends of CoeBRAI veteran Judy Floy ’77. Dinner on our own.

Tuesday, July 26 – 70.9 miles (or 100) to Boone, where we’re staying with Kathy Workman, mother of CoeBRAI driver and Coe SID Ryan Workman. Dinner provided.

Wednesday, July 27 – 56.1 miles to Altoona, where we’re staying with Coe parents Doug and Darla Keast. Dinner provided.

Thursday, July 28 – 57.5 miles to Grinnell, where we’re staying with Carrol and Bill Molison, grandma and dad of Coe Webmaster Andy Molison ’03. Dinner provided.

Friday, July 29 – 75.3 miles to Coralville, where we’re staying with Larry Svoboda ’63. Dinner provided. 38 Special is this year’s headliner for those into has-been bands taking a break from the county fair circuit.

Saturday, July 30 – 64.8 miles to Davenport. Rider and Quad Citizen Jim Strickland has made arrangements for us to gather for the final approach at 1523 South Fairmount Street. This is also where we will load for the bus ride home after dipping our tires.

A note about showers: our hosts have generously agreed to open their facilities to us. Let’s not abuse it. With 31 full-time riders, it would take five hours if everyone took a 10-minute shower. Please incorporate the five-minute shower into your training routine. I shave in the shower, and I’m still in and out in under five minutes, so I know it’s possible.

Also, we’ll set out tubs of water and clothes line for washing biking clothes. Just think of the time that will save for showering!