I can sum the first two days up pretty quickly: Hill, hill, hill, heat, hill, another hill, headwind, hill, hill another *^%#$@ hill, more hills...
I heard many seasoned RAGBRAI'ers say that this was one of the most brutal starts of RAGBRAI they've ever experienced. And it was. But we survived the first and the worst two days of this year's ride and after a swim, shower, meal and comfortably AC'd room, finally have some time to blawg.
Day 1 - 59.5 miles, 4298 feet of climb
By the time we got a ride into the overnight town from Council Bluffs and located the host house for our team bus (Team Draught), we got a bit of a late start and rolled out of Glenwood around 9:30. We left feeling pretty strong, but the nine miles to Silver City soon proved that we maybe hadn't done enough hill training. We rolled into Silver City just in time to have a Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary before the long arm of the law started pushing riders out of town. The only complaint we heard was that our Dawghouse, Austin's on the Trail, was too busy to get inside to order a Bloody! Many thanks to Austin, Ronny and "Mister" for being our first Dawghouse and promoting it so enthusiastically!
(Sidenote: Somebody (me) forgot to pack the camera cord and is therefore unable to upload pics to the Blawg, but I promise to provide a pictorial when I get home or can get my hands on the right cord!)
The second leg of the day was a long 20 into Carson that didn't get any easier. More and more flipped-up bikes appeared on the side of the road (for you non-RAGBRAI'ers this is a signal for the Sag Wagon to pick up those bikes and bikers). We caught up with Team Draught and after a bite to eat and a few beverages in the "waiting room" at a brand new saloon in town, we felt ready to tackle the 15 miles to our next Dawghouse, Dusty's Place in Griswold.
But there was just no mercy. The heat index continued to climb and the headwinds picked up. At one point, I saw a woman sitting under a tree at the side of the road, crying. I thought to myself, "Yeah, it's miserable out here... but there's no crying on RAGBRAI!" About five miles later, we stopped at The Peanut Butter Jam for a break. I pulled over, looked for a place to toss my bike, and deciding that might not be very wise, instead pitched my helmet about 20 yards, then found a shady spot of my own to sit down and cry.
One PBJ and water (most of it dumped on my head) later, I felt recovered enough to get into Griswold (passed a guy on the way into town who is running RAGBRAI in a pair of "Jesus sandals!"). Dusty's Place was full of riders, cooling off with our Margaritas and Mojitos. Thanks, Ryan, for your hospitality! (Dusty's Place also hosted our team bus on the way out Saturday.)
15 more miles to gut out to Atlantic, only to find once we got into town that Atlantic rivals San Francisco for hills (maybe a slight exaggeration but after a day like this it sure seemed so)! It took a little doing to find our team and our ride to our B&B in Walnut, but we got to Clark's Country Inn just in time for a shower and bed. Thank you to our gracious hosts, Mary Lou and Ron Clark!
Day 2 - 65.4 miles, 4719 feet of climb
We got a little earlier start today, and rolled out of Atlantic with Team Draught. The 14.7 miles to Elk Horn started out with enough cloud cover and a slight tailwind to make it a little more bearable, but the hills were still never ending. RAGBRAI's most notorious DJ, Dave Gallagher of Jam Time DJ Productions, was singing the Dawg's praises as we rolled into town and telling all riders to look for Hair of the Dawg all along the route. (God bless ya', Dave - you're the best!) Our Dawghouse, Larsen's Pub was pouring so many of them that they ran out of Vodka and switched to "Bloody Marias" with tequila... equally tasty! My burning quads were screaming for protein, so we split one of Larsen's amazing pork tenderloins for breakfast (perfectly acceptable on RAGBRAI). WOW - they put the tender in tenderloin. Great job, Neil & Brenda - thanks!
Just three miles up the road was our second Dawghouse, Arnold's Tavern in Kimballton. We met several friends there, enjoying their Hair of the Dawg, but didn't linger long. We decided to take advantage the cloud cover and get the next 20-mile stretch out of the way before the heat of the day. Hills ad nauseum, but Pastafari's mile markers helped me along to their stop just a few miles before Manning. (If you've never experienced Pastafari, fresh, gourmet pasta with Rosemary-grilled Salmon in the middle of nowhere is a beautiful thing!)
Four short legs left to go, we opted to hightail it to our hotel. Apologies to our Carroll Dawghouses, Kerp's Tavern and B&S's 529 that you were trumped by a swim, a shower and a cool room!
We should be well-rested (and laundered!) to kick tomorrow's 71 miles in the butt. We'll be stopping at the Real McCoy in Lanesboro for our Bloody Mary stop and Twister's in Pilot Mound for a Margarita. But I won't guarantee a post tomorrow evening... we're camping at sister's in Boone, which I'm sure will entail many beverages and stories around a campfire, and little time for blawging. So we'll be back in a few days!