Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kodak moments

Here's a photo album from our adventure, including this group shot from the banks of the Mississippi River. More added as photos are sent to me. 

Take me to the river

Team CoeBRAI veteran Judy Floy led our group to the Mississippi River tire dipping site in Clinton, culminating a 69-mile day from Anamosa and a 471-mile trek across the great state of Iowa.

After starting with 29 riders in Sioux Center on Sunday, July 22, 23 survived Iowa's heat and hills to the finish on Saturday, July 28. Along the way, we experienced Iowa's legendary hospitality, scenic landscape and homemade pie.

While physically exhausting, RAGBRAI provides an annual opportunity to restore one's faith in humanity and to experience Iowa in a uniquely intimate way. To do that while representing Coe College is a labor of love that I cannot possibly describe.

You really have to experience it to understand. Next year?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Riding like we stole it in Anamosa

Like most every bike ride, today's 42-miler to Anamosa seemed more difficult during than after.

After a night indoors - most of us in our own beds - breakfast on the 16th Avenue Bridge of Lions closed a historic RAGBRAI overnight in Cedar Rapids. Then it was off to Mt. Vernon, where the street was packed like none other, vendors sharing space with a huge influx of riders for the shortest stage of RAGBRAI XL.

A stiff head and cross wind made the 10-mile ride to Springville tougher than it should be, but all were in Anamosa soon enough. Personally, I struggled to get comfortable in the saddle, but persevered to the Anamosa city pool to go 6-for-6 in post-ride swims.

That streak will end tomorrow with a 69-mile ride to Clinton to finish the adventure. Our numbers have dwindled in recent days, but the Coe crimson and gold will be on full display as Team CoeBRAI dips front tires in the mighty Mississippi at the end of the world's longest, largest and greatest bicycle touring event. Sore muscles will be soothed by the pride of a difficult mission accomplished. And on Sunday, we'll begin planning for 2013.

Who's in?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Survivin' the Ride in Cedar Rapids

I can't tell you how good it feels to be home after today's 85 miler from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids.

Bill Martin '68 opened his home to the team after severe storms rolled through Marshalltown about the time most of us head for bed. The morning brought cooler temps (there's more than 10 degrees difference between 92 and 102!) and favorable winds for the longest day of the week (century riders excepted).

Perhaps due to the conditions, I thought today's ride was the most scenic of the five. My favored 25-mile stretch from Vinton to Cedar Rapids did not disappoint.

Upon arrival we were welcomed by a crew from Coe College, which also hosted a few of our riders and made the campus available for tent campers.

Showered, shaved and stuffed with Chinese take-out, it's time to head downtown for the 40th anniversary festivities and Counting Crows concert. Tomorrow's 42-miler to Anamosa affords a good opportunity for rest, relaxation and a much slower pace.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hump Day to Marshalltown

The heat continued to take its toll on the 77+ mile ride to Marshalltown. Along the way we crossed Interstate 35, the symbolic east-west Iowa dividing line.

Several CoeBRAI riders sagged for all or part of the day in the sweltering heat. There's no shame in that given reports that a third of all registered RAGBRAI riders opted out of Tuesday's leg.

While Wednesday's conditions were arguably better, the issue became lack of recovery time on back-to-back 80 mile days.

Thursday brings another, but highs in the low 90s will be a welcome change. Wind from the northwest promises a smooth 30-mile cruise from Vinton to Cedar Rapids, one of my favorite rides when conditions are favorable.

The iPod will be playing Counting Crows all day in anticipation of Thursday's show and a night at home. Get ready, Cedar Rapids. Company's coming!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 3 to Webster City

81-miles to Webster City wasn't nearly enough for a dozen of the more masochistic among us. On a day when wind overshadowed the heat, 12 CoeBRAI riders traversed the Des Moines River valley not once like the rest of us but thrice on the optional Karras Loop. They each got a patch for their efforts.

On the other end of the spectrum, our good friend Roger Bear's ride came to an end when his derailer snapped, breaking the carbon fiber frame in the process. Not the kind of thing bike shops along the route are equipped to repair.

Ron VanHoeck was interviewed by Cedar Rapids television station KGAN for a story on RAGBRAI. Hope to see it after we return.

Me? I was pleased to come upon Farm Boys when there was no line and quickly downed a breakfast burrito. Here's a photo.

An eventful day all around for Team CoeBRAI. Here's hoping for tailwinds on tomorrow's 77-mile journey to Marshalltown.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 2 to Lake View

It was a hot one, even by RAGBRAI standards. Officially a 62-mile trek from Cherokee to Lake View became a 69-miler for Team CoeBRAI from the Country Club to the Dean and Nancy Stock farm. A few of our directionally challenged troupe took the scenic route around Black Hawk Lake. For me, a short detour to the pool in Sac City sufficed.

For dinner we pay tribute to CoeBRAI co-founder Tony Bata, the driver and chef in 2005 and 2006. We dispensed of the cooking duties under my watch, but we've made an exception for tonight. With our hosts tied up with volunteer duties and our camp located about a mile from town, we're serving spaghetti with my homemade sauce prepared in advance, frozen and hauled along for the occasion. Perhaps someone will post a review.

Tuesday brings an optional century with temperatures to match. For the less ambitious among us - me included - it'll be 81 miles to Webster City. It's officially RAGBRAI XL jersey day, but I haven't decided yet if I'll wear that hot, black number.

Until then, quitcherbitchin.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Country Club livin'

Just a quick note while I have momentary access to report we're all alive and well and enjoying the good life at the Cherokee Country Club. A short 54 mile ride from Sioux Center allowed for an afternoon of lounging in or by the pool. Lake View - and more reliable cellular service, we hope - tomorrow.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

RAGBRAI or not, here we come

It's early, but 2012 is shaping up to be the best year yet for Team CoeBRAI #8. All 29 riders and 3-person support crew participated in Friday night's pre-load opportunity. As a result, the team departed from Coe 25 minutes ahead of schedule. Today's destination is Sioux Center, where RAGBRAI XL begins tomorrow. Memories await.