Thursday, July 19, 2007

RAGBRAI Time Again

If it's July and you're in Iowa, then it's time for RABRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa)! (Follow the link if you want to learn more about the event. ) It's the biggest party of the year with upwards to 15,000 cyclists from all over the world participating. Even Lance Armstrong is going to ride the whole way this year (or so the rumors say).

They start off dipping their back tires in the Missouri River and ride the week across Iowa until they hit the Mississippi River where they dip their front tires. It's totally fun for everyone (not to mention a HUGE economic boost to the small towns they go through). Registration is limited to 8,000, but many bikers join to ride along for a few days and never register. There are many, many support people who follow along as well. So, not only the towns that they stay in, but the towns that they pass through, are included in their party.

As we were sitting in the Painted Pony yesterday, twelve very wet and very nervous cyclists burst into the bar about six o'clock shouting "There's a tornado out there!!!". Another thing about Iowa in July is that horrific storms and tornadoes can blow up in a heartbeat in this heat and humidity. Luckily there was no tornado but these poor folks had been caught in the torrential rain and straight-line winds (I heard reports later of 70 mph winds). They'd ridden in from Iowa City and had stayed the night before in Humboldt. They got caught in the downpour about 3 miles south of town and hid out in a machine shed.

A lot of people will ride from their homes out to the start of the trip. Iowa City is a LOT closer to the Mississippi than it is to the Missouri, so they'd already been on the road for two days. The group had men and women every age (20-somethings to 50-somethings) and, in spite of their frightening experience, they came in good spirits.

After eating supper they got back on their bikes to ride to Mallard (where I'm sure they would stop and party some more) and finally on to Emmetsburg where they would spend the night. By this time it had started to pour again and even though we tried to get them to stay in West Bend for the night, they started off on their next leg of the trip. Well - most of them anyway. Two women with more sense than the rest asked if we could take them to their motel in Emmetsburg. They'd had their fill of riding in the rain and were tired after eating. So we loaded their bikes in the back of the truck and headed west to Emmetsburg.

This is just something that Iowans do for RAGBRAIers. When we lived in Onawa, RAGBRAI started off from there two times. Both times we opened our home to those bikers who were not lucky enough to get a motel room or who didn't feel like pitching a tent for the night. It was quite a sight I must say. Bodies and bikes everywhere! Since living in West Bend, RAGBRAI has come through twice as well. It takes quite a while for 8-10,000 bicycles to ride through your town, especially when half of them stop to party for a while. (Man! Those people can drink!!) We've met some really nice people, just like last night. It was a blast.

Oh - and this picture? I took this of my neighbor's house yesterday. See that spout thingy on the edge of her house? It was raining so hard and the wind was blowing so strong that the rain was blown out of her downspout. Imagine trying to ride a bike in this.


mari said...

Rain, rain, come to California, please. It is dangerously dry here this year.

How fun that RAGBRAI sounds! I like the whole concept and how the cyclists dip their tires at the start and at the end. Will you post photos of the cyclists as they swoop through?

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

What a really fantastic event Sally! Yes, I would love to do a ride like that but I simply melt in the heat so it isn't going to be in July or Aug. And I would positively love being taken in by you!
Terrific photo!

Sally said...

Hi Mari - We so desperately needed the rain too. Just not like this! They're not going through West Bend this year (:( but the link show some pretty amazing pictures.

Hi Tanna - I agree about the heat. Those guys are nuts! LOL You'd love it though. You can come stay with me any time.

A wildlife gardener said...

Sounds like great fun and cameraderie...keep it up:)

Sally said...

Hi W.G. It's totally awsome!

Terri B. said...

Hi Sally!
I came to visit your blog in a really interesting way. I have a blog called Tip of the Iceberg, and today I set up a Feedburner acct and added a subscribe link to my blog. My sister-in-law got notice in her Google Reader for about 25 new posts to "Tip of the Iceberg" and started reading them. She wondered why I was talking about a bike ride in Iowa (BTW I know about RAGBRAI since I used to be an avid cyclist and have a friend from Iowa who used to ride this back in the 70s). So, the sis-in-law kept reading and finally figured out it wasn't my blog! For some reason, her Google Reader switched her feed from my blog over to your blog. Not sure why but must have something to do with the Feedburner acct I set up today. Our Feedburner URLs are different so I'm not sure why this even happened. She re-subscribed to my blog and all seems well now. Weird technology stuff.

A further strange coincidence is that not only do we have the same blog name, but your sub title about life the universe and everything is my sister-in-laws blog name and theme. Check both blogs out!

Nice meeting you!

Sally said...

Hey Terri - Nice meeting you too!

Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I suspect you are in locked room with Harry Potter! Has he been worth the wait?

Sally said...

I wish to hell I was!!! Last nite my g/f and I went to the new Die Hard movie. I want to see the new HP movie... and get the new book. Soon. Very, very soon.

chigiy said...

What a fun event.
It is so cool that you let people stay with you. A great way to make interesting friends.
Sorry about the weather.
We are quite cloistered from the weather here in California.
Have fun.