Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 7 to Fort Madison and the mighty Mississippi

Megan Wagner, a 2013 Coe grad, and her dad, Tim, began the week as RAGBRAI virgins. They ended it with a homecoming in Fort Madison and hosted Team CoeBRAI at their home for our group descent to the Mississippi River. It was a fitting end to what, by all accounts, was the best RAGBRAI any of us have experienced. The end.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 6 to Fairfield

Had it not rained all night and I wasn't fighting a cold, today's 52-mile pancake ride (only 1,222 feet of climb) would have been a joy. Overcast skies for most of the day kept temperatures low again and a nice tailwind made for a magic carpet ride to Fairfield. Turns out I needed long sleeves and a jacket for comfort instead of sweating out the illness.

Soon enough we were in Fairfield, staying with teammates for just the second time in CoeBRAI history. RAGBRAI virgins Jeff Evanelo and Holly Baker have opened their secluded home to Team CoeBRAI. It's going to be a struggle to leave this serenity for another day on the road, but the Mississippi awaits.

First, though, it's time for the now traditional spaghetti dinner with my homemade sauce (frozen and toted across the state and back for the occasion. I'd better get cooking.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 5 to Oskaloosa

Data on paper - even visually represented - is a funny thing. Today's 52-mile trek to Oskaloosa ranked third for the week with 2,808 feet of climb. In actuality, it may have been second in difficulty to Monday's 83-mile journey from Harlan to Perry. Wind direction, descents and fatigue make a difference.

In our only group camping experience of the week, our tents are pitched outside the chapel at William Penn University. A pasta buffet on campus awaits before the annual concert by RAGBRAI favorites the Nadas.

With only 1,222 feet of climb, tomorrow's levitation-aided 52-mile ride to Fairfield should be the easiest day of the week, on paper.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 4 to Knoxville

Though short on miles - only 50 - today's hump day ride to Knoxville offered the second most climb at 2,920 feet. I didn't feel like the hills were as rewarding as prior days, but who am I to judge?

Highlights of the route were passing the State Capitol building and through the state fairgrounds in Des Moines and crossing the 1-mile bridge at Lake Red Rock. I didn't get a swim for the first time all week, but the shower at the home of Kevin and Jennifer Bassett Wadle '95 was nearly as refreshing.

Jennifer was Coe roommates with CoeBRAI veteran Amy Wiezorek Schork '95, who should be rolling into camp any time now.

Tomorrow's ride to Oskaloosa offers similar distance and climb to today. Along the way, we'll pass through Pella - home of Iowa Conference rival Central College - before spending the night on the campus of William Penn University.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 3 to Des Moines

With cloudy skies, cool temperatures and only 1,308 feet of climb, Tuesday's 50-mile ride to Des Moines couldn't have been easier. Ok, there was some wind to contend with, but that's splitting hairs.

Highlights of the day, for me, were lunch at Chubby's outside of Van Meter and a stop at historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines. I'd like to return to the latter some day when I'm not on my bike.

After a swim, I made my way to the home of Bridget and Steve Van Every '75, our hosts in the capitol city. Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge are on tap tonight as this year's big RAGBRAI concert, but I'm pretty comfortable right here.

Day 2 to Perry

For me, at least, the 83-mile ride to Perry ranks among my all-time top 5 RAGBRAI days. Those who opted for the century loop might disagree, but I loved the long, fast descents that rewarded most of the tough but manageable climbs. A 10-mile stretch from Kimbleton to Hamblin was particularly breathtaking.

A storm curtailed our evening activity, but no harm done as the rest of the week offers 50-ish mile rides and cool temperatures.

Thanks to the Finneseths for hosting in Perry. Tomorrow we dry out in Des Moines with Steve Van Every.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 1 to Harlan

After an exceptional night in Council Bluffs with the Madsen family, it was off to Harlan and Team CoeBRAI's first repeat host - Coe Athletics Hall of Famer Jim Bruck '77 and his RAGBRAI enthusiast wife Julie.

Sharing the lawn with us are members of our friends the Lizard Kings, who are making their fourth visit to the Bruck home. You've gotta love RAGBRAI friendly folks.

Today's nearly 50 miler pales compared to tomorrow's hilly 83 - plus 21 for those who opt for the century loop - to Perry. Better get some rest.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

RAGBRAI eve

Just a short update tonight to acknowledge our awesome Council Bluffs hosts Matt and Kathleen Madsen, whose son Peter is entering his junior year at Coe.

While our last visit here was memorable, the Madsens are RAGBRAI veterans and, consequently, great hosts. Next time RAGBRAI returns, so are we.