Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dawgs on Wheels - 2012

RAGBRAI 2012 was most definitely the DAWG days of summer!  Temperatures hovering around 100 at the beginning of the week made it one of the most challenging years ever, and demanded a good balance between hydration and "other" forms of drinking!  Nevertheless, the spirit of RAGBRAI is not easily deflated, and riders still seemed to enjoy themselves along the way.  Here's a brief recap of the week for those of you who missed it, or those of you wanting to relive a little of it.  I've included the high temperatures recorded by one rider on the RAGBRAI forum.  They are unofficial, but don't sound that far off.  (To quote Team Spin... "It's not the heat, it's the stupidity!)

Meet the Team, from L to R - Gary "Half Dawg" Bishop, Gwen "Water Legs" Bishop, Jesse "Quadzilla" Donnenwerth, Leslie "Blondie" Gannon, Mark "Top Dawg" Gannon, and Chris "Papa Giorgio" Jamal Rodriguez Enrique Lensing

Day 1 - Sioux Center to Cherokee - 54.4 miles, 102 degrees
The Dawgs with Tag & Joanie
It's always a little disappointing to start the ride without the official Missouri River dip, but still exciting to get on the road the first day!  Our first stop was at Tag's in Alton - an awesome first stop! Tag and Joanie couldn't have been nicer, and their stop was super organized, super friendly, and super fun.  But beware the JELL-O shots - they packed a punch!  Thanks, Tag & Joanie, for a great time!

Next stop was the Dugout Lounge in Granville.  They had live entertainment in the beer garden (sorry I can't remember the name to give credit!), and the Vodka-Lemonades were mighty refreshing (can't drink Bloodys all day)!  Another great stop, only dampened by Mark's first flat tire of the week as we were leaving the party.

A quick stop in Marcus at a cousin's home provided some welcome relief from the heat and a chance to rehydrate before the last stretch into Cherokee.  Thanks, Bob & Cindy Gannon, for your wonderful hospitality!

Gannons and Delaware Blue Hens

Jobie's in Cherokee was a welcome sight, and a great stop, bordering the beer garden and main stage for the evening's entertainment.  We met some new friends there before heading out to the Grainery Lodge, a barn converted to lodging about 7 miles out of town.  About 30 people stayed there for the night, and were treated to live music by Jason Walsmith of the Nadas. 

Day 2 - Cherokee to Lake View - 62 miles, 109 degrees
The best laid plans of mice and men... we had the best intentions of starting early and getting 40 miles or so in before stopping to indulge.  And start early we did, but then stopped at Jake's in Aurelia, and dawggone it, it's just hard to leave a good party!  We kicked off the day with a Bloody Mary with Team Draught, Team Gnarley, Team Spin, Team Good Beer, and the Regulators.  And then another.  And maybe another.

We finally pulled ourselves away.  After a quick refueling stop in Hanover Village (awesome pork burgers!), it was on to Lobo's in Schaller, where we got a little waylaid again.  The beer garden provided plenty of shade, and a sprinkler to cool off under.  (Note to self:  Never. Ever. EVER! get bike shorts wet with 30 miles to go on the second day! I'll spare the details)

By the time we got to Sac City, it felt like someone had turned the thermostat up about 20 degrees.  So we stopped into our Dawghouse, Viking Bay, to cool off before hitting the final leg into Lake View.

Our Dawghouse, Glacier Bay, pulled out all the stops, with live entertainment, a rotating menu and a 4 am breakfast the next morning.  And co-owner Mike Busch was gracious enough to let us spend the night in their home (complete with cool rock quarry!).  Thank you, Mike, Emily and Triton, for letting us invade!

Day 3 - Lake View to Webster City - 81.2 miles, 105 degrees
SAGBRAI.  We made it as far as the meeting town (Farnhamville) before calling Papa Giorgio to come pick us up.  Lame.  We weren't even that disappointed when we headed into an American Legion for a TNT, only to find bananas and water, but PLENTY of AC!

Matt & Paul "Mr. Pork Chop" Bernhard
Backtrack to Lohrville for a second...we made our daily stop at Mr. Pork Chop, where I had the pleasure and honor of meeting THE Mr. Pork Chop (no offense, Matt.  We love you too, but your dad is the real ladies' man in the family!  What a sweetie!

We sagged the rest of the way to Stanhope (10 miles south of Webster City), where we spent the night with my sister, Marcia "Honah" and brother-in-law Harold "Mayor for Life" Hove.  We stuffed ourselves on Marcia's cooking and went to bed early for a fresh start the next day.

Day 4 - Webster City to Marshalltown - 77.1 miles, 109 degrees
Hometown tour day!!  To give Papa G a chance to experience the ride, I took over driving for the first few legs.  I drove to my hometown, Jewell (a Gem in a Friendly Setting) to meet with a cousin.  Ran into a few old friends there at Axis Lanes, our Dawghouse and a Jewell landmark.

Back in Kamrar, Mark and the rest of the team started the day at Pickles Pub, where they served the "Big Gulp" of Bloody Marys - 24 ounce Hair of the Dawgs, as well as an AMAZING breakfast pizza!

I drove on to Story City to set up a beer stop at my brothers' house for our team and Team Draught.  Thanks, Joe, Tom, and Bella, for letting us stop!  By the time I finished cleaning up there, I just could not talk myself onto my bike, so took a sag to Marshalltown.  After checking in and cleaning up, we headed downtown to wait for the team.  What a relief to see them roll in.  It was HOT, HOT, HOT that day!    

Day 5 - Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids - 84.8 miles, 96 degrees
On a normal day, 96 degrees is hot...but this day, it was not!  It's all relative, so with the 13 degree swing and an awesome tailwind, the 91 miles we ultimately logged that day felt WAY better than the 62 we put in Monday!

Mark's rear tire "reared" it's ugly head again, with 2 flats on the short trip into Garwin.  A Bloody Mary, a beer and a pizza later at the Garwin Bull, all was well and we were ready to roll on again.

We didn't stay long, but stopped at our next two Dawghouses, Czech Point in Clutier and the Hitchin' Post in Garrison (the HOTD Margaritas there tasted mighty fine!).  In Vinton we couldn't help stopping at Mickey's Bar - not a Dawghouse, but the place was FULL of Hair of the Dawg jerseys, courtesy of Team Draught, Team Gnarley, and others.  One of the most fun stops of the week, despite being thrown into a baby pool and soaking my *%$!*$ bike shorts again.  Thanks, James Roller!!!  

The exposure's a little wonky, but here are some of the folks "representing" in Vinton.

The rest of the ride into Cedar Rapids was uneventful, but scenic.  Happy for Cedar Rapids, after all of their planning for their debut after the 2008 floods, that it had turned out to be such a great day.  We opted out of Counting Crows (I wish those concerts were earlier) for a shower and evening at home in Iowa City with friends Barb & Jan (of 2010 Sagging/Supporting fame), and their team the "Master Race."  Thank you, Barbie & Jan, for a lovely meal and end to our day!

Day 6 - Cedar Rapids to Anamosa - 42.2 miles, 86 degrees
J.B. & Company on the Wapsi River
Refreshed from a night at home, we met up with the Bishops at the Chrome Horse, followed by a stop at Parlor City, where Hair of the Dawg was a favorite on the Bloody Mary bar.  The ride out of New Bo started with a cruel and unexpected climb, but we were lucky enough to find Cheese, our favorite Fat Tire friend, at the top of the hill.  We stopped for a quick one with him before moving onto Scorz, our Dawghouse in Mount Vernon.  We thought we had given the Rollers enough of a head start to avoid their "Shot Friday."  Turns out we should have had another with Cheese.  But Scorz was a great party, and it was a short day.

Rumors of off-route parties led us astray, so after a quick stop at Shelly's in Springville, we turned into the NW headwinds into Waubeek, where F.B. & Company had picnic tables and outdoor entertainment set up by the river.  A great, relaxing way to end the day.  Papa G fetched us there to take the Bishops in to their hotel in Anamosa and us back home for one more evening with Barb, Jan and the Master Race.

Day 7 - Anamosa to Clinton - 69.4 miles
Best. Driver. EVER.
As much as we didn't want the week to end, 70 miles seemed like a lot for the last day, so we attempted an early start.  Kevin "Captain Dork" Hochstetdler joined up with us for the day.  We were all sad to say goodbye to Christopher "Papa Giorgio" Jamal Rodriguez Enrique Lensing, so we made him promise to come back next year.  He left us in Anamosa to catch up with his ride back to NW Iowa, while we started off on our last 70 miles.

Hale Tap & Supper Club was our last Dawghouse.  We caught up to Team Draught there for one last Bloody Mary together.  The rest of the day was stop and go, stopping in nearly every town to draw it out a bit.  The "10 Miles to Go" sign marked the beginning of my tears (I'm always a sap the last day) that lasted on and off the rest of the way in, replaced by laughter when we spotted Captain Dork, Bud Light in hand and a cop 10 feet away, waiting for us on a corner just blocks from the river.  We were late enough that there was no line for the dip, and early enough to get home before dark.  Sigh.  It goes so fast, but it'll be here again before you know it.

Mississippi Dips!

Before ending, I want to extend sincerest thanks to our Dawghouses for supporting us;  our hosts, Mike & Emily and Harold & Marcia, for their Iowa hospitality; my brothers for lending their house; and Teams Draught, Gnarley, Spin, the Regulators, Good Beer and all the others we had fun with along the way.  Thank you also to State & Local law enforcement who looked after us throughout the week, and the vendors who kept us nourished and hydrated along the route.  We're proud to share this great Iowa event with y'all, and proud to be Iowans and a part of this "nothing like it anywhere" experience.  See you next year!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I went for a ride and ended up in the DAWGHOUSE!

The Dawgs have been busy training our legs and livers for RAGBRAI and setting up Dawghouses along the route!  Here is a preview of this year's ride:

Day 1 - Sioux Center to Cherokee - 54.4 miles
A welcome change from last year's helly, er... HILLY first day, Day 1 is short and flat.  We always try to set up our first Dawghouse in the very first town out, but there are no taverns to be found in dry Orange City!  But you won't have to go far for your first HOTD Bloody Mary:

Tag's - 202 10th St. in Alton
A brand new bar, opened recently by Tag & Joanie Mousel.  Joanie is the daughter of former RAGBRAI director Jim Green, so they are well familiar with and prepared for the onslaught of bikers!  With 8,000 square feet inside and a large beer garden outside, there will be plenty of room for thirsty riders.  HOTD Bloody Marys will be readily available, as well as tavern sandwiches and pulled pork to get a good base for the day!

The Dugout Lounge - 532 Main St. in Granville
While scouting the route, we stopped in to find the Dugout FULL of locals, feasting on hearty Iowa food.  Meat lovers can fill up on Ribeye, Brats or Grilled Pork Loin, while enjoying a 16 oz. Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary!  Our favorite RAGBRAI D.J., Dave Gallagher, will be cranking the tunes here!

Jobie's Pastime Lounge - 114 S 4th St. in Cherokee
We're always flattered to walk into a bar to find that they already serve Hair of the Dawg, and this is a great spot to sample Hair of the Dawg.  Our Bloody Marys, Margaritas and Strawberry Margaritas are the special of the day, as well as $2.50 beers and wines from Oliver Wine Company.  And riders won't have to stray far to enjoy the evening's entertainment... the stage is right out the back door!

Day 2 - Cherokee to Lake View - 62 miles
Another flat, fairly short day, with a lake at the end for a refreshing dip!  Lake View should be a fun stop, with all of the activity happening close to the lake.  Stops on Day 2 include:

Jake's Sports Lounge - 208 Main St. in Aurelia
Located in an old grocery store, Jake's has plenty of room for riders to come in out of the heat, and an outdoor bar if you'd rather acclimate to the heat!  Fill up while you're there on Breakfast Burritos, Bloody Marys (of course), Vodka Lemonades and Mimosas!  Riders note... LAST CALL FOR ALCOHOL... at least until Schaller, which is a long 25 miles away!

Lobos - 116 W 2nd St in Schaller
One of the more memorable stops on our "Scout the Route" outing, we were heckled (in a good way) and entertained by some of the local yokels.  A sign of a good townie bar.  Steak Sandwiches and Biscuits & Gravy are on the menu for the day, and HOTD Bloody Marys.

Viking Bay - 112 N 5th St in Sac City
You may be dying to get to the World's Largest Popcorn Ball in Sac City, but be sure to stop by Viking Bay first for a round of Bags or Tippy Cup, and to dance to some more Gallagher music!  HOTD Bloody Marys and Margaritas and BV-Cokes are on special.  And we would be remiss to not mention that this was one of the friendliest places we've ever been in!  Proprietor Paulene reminded us of our dear friend and Sag Queen Barb, featured in our RAGBRAI 2010 Dawg Blawg!

Glacier Bay - 111 Boulder Drive in Lake View
In the heart of the RAGBRAI action, Glacier Bay is the only lakeside restaurant in Lake View, so stop by for food, drinks and live entertainment by Key Lime Special from Rochester, MN.  Serving burgers and brats from 11:00 AM to 4:00 p.m., supper buffet (chicken kabobs, roast and shrimp pasta plus sides) starting at 4:00 p.m. and breakfast (biscuits & gravy, bacon, egg & cheese hoagie, fruit, juice and coffee) from 4:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday.  

Day 3 - Lake View to Webster City - 81.2 miles
The first of 3 long days in a row, and the Karras Loop day, riders will want to pace themselves and make frequent stops to break from the heat.  We've encouraged our Dawghouses to provide plenty of shade, fans and AC, so hopefully they will take heed.  Only 2 Dawghouses on Day 3, to encourage riders to not linger TOO long:

Glacier Bay (again) in Lake View
will be serving up breakfast and Bloody Marys from 4:00 to 11:00 a.m.!

Dolly's - 109 Pine St. in Auburn
All you can eat breakfast buffet (think Biscuits & Gravy, French Toast Sticks, Pancakes and sides, as well as Gatorade and Energy Drinks) will fuel you for the day.  A dose of AC and a Bloody Mary will prepare you for the day.

Day 4 - Webster City to Marshalltown - 77.1 miles
This day is close to my heart, passing near or through the hallowed grounds of South Hamilton (Stanhope, Jewell and Ellsworth) where I was born and raised.  On this trip down memory lane, we will be stopping by:

Pickles Pub - 425 Main St. in Kamrar
Go big or go home.  Pickles Pub is prepped to make a big impression.  They are known best for the best pizza EVER, and will be serving them up, breakfast style, on Wednesday morning.  They are going down in Hair of the Dawg history as the most generous portion ever, serving up 24-ounce Bloody Marys!

Axis Lanes - 712 Main St. in Jewell
Previously owned by one of my classmate/friend's parents, I spent many a day here in my childhood.  Prior to that (60's) it was owned by Ray Burkhart's parents.  Ray moved back from LA and lovingly restored the Alley in 2007, where he and his band, the "Surfinks" perform regularly.  Be sure to stop by for a look at this Iowa landmark, and enjoy a HOTD Bloody Mary or Margarita while you're there!

Day 5 - Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids -  84.8 miles
Cedar Rapids is hosting its big debut after the devastating floods of 2008, ironically, in one of the worst drought years since the 50s.  Riders will have 4 opportunites to break at a Dawghouse on this long day:

Garwin Bull - 603 3rd St. in Garwin
Is it a saloon?  An English Pub?  Maybe a little of both...owner Sandy's accent gives away her British heritage, right in the heart of Iowa. Riders can easily manage their Bloody Mary in one hand while snacking on a portable breakfast burrito or sandwich pack.

Czech Point - 319 Main St. in Clutier
Representing the heritage of the surrounding communities, the Czech Point Restaurant and Pub will be serving Kolaches, Bohemie Tacos, and Tea Rings, as well as Ham & Turkey Sandwiches and Mini Subs.  HOTD Bloody Marys will be served to thirsty riders!

Hitchin' Post - 200 N. Sycamore in Garrison
Another meat lovers' stop, the Hitchin' Post will serve Bloody Marys and Margaritas to wash down the Pork Loins, Ribeye Sandwiches and BBQ they'll be dishing out.  Top it off with a little Ice Cream and jam to some Gallagher tunes before hitting the road again.

Parlor City - 1125 3rd St. SE in Cedar Rapids
Located in the heart of the New Bohemia District, stop in to enjoy the outdoor patio, bicycle fix-it station, craft beer selection and historical Cedar Rapids memorabilia this locally owned restaurant has to offer.  A long time Hair of the Dawg supporter, Parlor City will be serving up some Margaritas to cool riders down on this last long day.  

Day 6 - Cedar Rapids to Anamosa - 42.2 miles
Finally, a break on distance, but not on hills!  But as seasoned riders know, Day 6 is often the last hurrah on our long trek to the Mississippi.  Be sure to stop in at one of these 4 Dawghouses that day:

Rut Bar & Grill - 6913 Mt. Vernon Road in Cedar Rapids
Who says you have to ride a long distance to earn your first Bloody Mary of the day?  Savor one while perusing the Trophy Room at the Rut Bar & Grill before bidding goodbye to Cedar Rapids!

Scorz Bar - 109 1st St NW in Mount Vernon
17 miles in, we're almost halfway through the day already!  So might as well linger a while at Scorz.  As of this writing, we haven't learned of their specials yet, but will update as soon as we hear.  But rest assured you can get a HOTD Bloody there!

Shelly's - 263 Broadway St. in Springville
A farm girl raise in the area, Shelly knows good food!  She will have an outdoor bar featuring the music of Dave Gallagher, in addition to a ton of space inside!  Pork & chicken skewers, soft tacos and $1 cookies are on the menu for the day, along with HOTD Bloodys and Margaritas.

Knuckleheads - 205 W Main St. in Anamosa
It's Thanksgiving in July!  Knuckleheads will have Turkey Dressing on the menu, and Hair of the Dawg Bloody Marys and Margaritas.

Day 7 - Anamosa to Clinton - 69.4 miles
It brings a tear to my eye every year.  One part relief, one part pride, and many parts sadness that this famous biking event, unlike any ride, anywhere, is drawing to a close.  Knowing that riders are rushed to meet their rides in the end town, we have only one Dawghouse planned for the last day, so be sure to go to Hale!

Hale Tap & Supper Club - 5522 County Rd E45 in Hale
Cinnamon Rolls, Sausage, Biscuits & Gravy and Fruit Cup will fill your bellies for the last day, and one last HOTD Bloody Mary will taste OH, so good!

Enjoy your week on 2 wheels.  While we encourage you to have a little Hair of the Dawg every day, we encourage you to be safe and responsible.  The forecast is nearing the danger zone, so please hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!  See you on the road!  

Leslie & Mark
the "Dawgs"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chili Today, HOT(D) Tomorrow!

Back by popular demand... our Chipotle Chili recipe!

Chili - good. Hair of the Dawg - great.  Hair of the Dawg Chili?  Off the chain! Those who know me well know that my Chili seldom tastes the same twice.  I have a general formula that I follow, but modify according to my mood or whim, so here's my outline.

Hair of the Dawg Chili
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 - 28 oz. cans Muir Glen Fire Roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 - 15 oz. cans Black Beans
  • 2 - 4 oz. cans diced Green Chiles
  • 1 - 32 oz. bottle Hair of the Dawg Chipotle Bloody Mary Mix
  • Chili Powder, to taste
  • Cumin, to taste

Brown ground beef with onion and garlic.  Drain grease.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 1-2 hours to allow flavors to develop, stirring occasionally.  Serve with Fritos, shredded cheese and sour cream, or other garnishments of your liking.

Some modifications that I've tried:
  • Stewing beef in place of ground beef
  • 1-2 Tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • A bottle of a good Stout or Porter Beer

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels 2011 - the rest of the week!

Oh boy.  I didn't do a very good job of blawging this year.  Although the elevation lowered, the heat index continued to spike, leaving us with too little energy at the end of each day to do anything but shower and collapse.

Day 3 - Carroll to Boone, 70.9 miles, 1787 feet of climb

This day started out blissfully flat, flat, flat!  We were averaging an effortless 18 MPH starting out, so we bypassed the first town to get to The Real McCoy in Lanesboro.  We ran into some good friends there while enjoying a 'Pig in a Blanket on a Stick' with a Bloody Mary... a great stop!  Thank you Dean and staff for serving up 'the real McCoy' of Iowa Bloody Marys - Hair of the Dawg!

We left Lanesboro still feeling great and enjoying the flat roads, but the combination of fatigue from the first two days of climbing and the rising heat index did us in.  We stopped through Churdan & Paton, where our designated Dawghouses had fallen through, so we didn't stay long (if anyone at Churdan Bar & Grill told you they were serving Hair of the Dawg, as we overheard, they were NOT).  The stretches were long, and once again, The Peanut Butter Jam appeared like an oasis just at the right time.  We had planned to go into our Dawghouse in Pilot Mound, Twister's, then turn around and go back through Ogden to my sister Terry's house south and west of Boone.  Instead, we hit the wall and turned towards Ogden, and found an oasis a few miles down the road - Don Williams Golf Course.  We had a cold beer and copious amounts of ice water there while we waited for a sag from her instead.  An early in, a shower and a night with family were just what we needed.  Terry and Mike will go down in RAGBRAI history as the most gracious hosts ever, offering everyone on the Team Draught bus (30+ people) an indoor shower, a grill-your-own steak dinner and indoor sleeping quarters.  Thank you again, Mike & Terry, for being exemplary Iowa hosts!

Day 4 - Boone to Altoona, 56.1 miles, 1147 feet of climb (the day I nicknamed the event "ROGUE-BRAI")

As promised, this day was short, flat and fun!  Mike & Terry's home is located very near the county road to Woodward, so our group chose to go off-route to take in Iowa's new High Trestle Trail and hit the best RAGBRAI party EVER at the Flat Tire Lounge in Madrid.  The Flat Tire had stocked up with 55 cases of Hair of the Dawg, and blew through at least 40 of them...a record!  They were well-staffed, highly organized, and attracted a huge crowd!  Congratulations and thanks again to the Flat Tire for a great party!

It was difficult to leave there, but we eventually did, and checked out the rest of the trail to Slater, back off route to Ankeny (a typo on Team Draught's jersey indicated that we would stop in Ankeny, so we felt obliged to include it and weren't the only ones!) before finishing through Bondurant & Altoona. 

Day 5 - Altoona to Grinnell, 57.5 miles, 3202 feet of climb

The sky threatened rain when we started out, which was actually a welcome relief from the sun.  As we were nearing the first town out, Mitchellville, the rain did start, but not enough to be a deterrent.  Team 36 was the first Dawghouse of the day.  It was pretty quiet when we got there, but turned out to be one of those impromptu parties where more and more people we knew showed up.  Fun!  Great to see a lot of our Iowa City friends there.

I'm sorry I didn't catch their name... but two very talented women were singing covers at Team 36's "Party on the Patio".  At one point they sang our National Anthem, and it was cool to see the whole crowd, hands over hearts, sing right along.  And I was happy to see that I wasn't the only sap there... I turned around to see a friend wiping tears from her eyes, too!  

In Colfax, the meeting town, we found our bus and spent a few relaxing hours with the team before heading on to Baxter (worst hill of the day, and maybe all of RAGBRAI was a cruel, steep surprise - Mt. Colfax).  Maybe longer than we should have... the State Patrol was shutting the bars down for their mandatory hour by the time we arrived.  But O'Kelly's Steak & Pub showed all the signs of having thrown a great party there, too!

The last stretch to Grinnell was ridiculously long - 28 miles - so we headed straight for the hotel and a good night's sleep.  

Day 6 - Grinnell to Coralville, 74.9 miles, 2681 feet of climb

We were excited to be heading back into familiar territory, and our own bed and shower were our "carrot" leading us on that day.  It's so easy on RAGBRAI to forget what day it is, that I was surprised to walk into our Dawghouse, the Front St. Tap in Brooklyn, to find so many people there in Hair of the Dawg jerseys (I had declared Friday official HOTD Jersey Day)!  We had our first Bloody Mary of the day there before hitting the next Dawghouse, the American Legion in Victor, where we also had one of the best breakfasts of the week! Great job, Victor Legion!

Next stop was Phool's Gold in Marengo, where a Hair of the Dawg Margarita tasted exceptionally good before moving on to our regular Wednesday night stops, Old Roy's in Oxford and Slim's in Tiffin.  Ahhhh... it was great to be home!

Day 7 - Coralville to Davenport, 65.6 miles, 2363 feet of climb

I woke up at 4 am, thoroughly convinced that I was staying home.  Quads, hamstrings and unmentionables all screaming in favor of that plan, I nevertheless decided I would be full of regret if I didn't finish what I had started.  So we stopped at Blackstone, just a few miles up the road from our house, where they were serving Hair of the Dawg Bloody Marys in complimentary water bottles - cool idea!

Next stop was Herb & Lou's in West Branch.  I couldn't quite decide if our group had just run out of steam, or if we were just lingering to make it last, but it was clear we probably weren't going to be the first ones to the Mississippi dip site!  We spent a few hours in the shade at an unexpected stop near Moscow that one of the guys had arranged, only to find Hair of the Dawg there, too!  It was a great, much-needed rest in the shade.

But with almost 30 miles still between us and the end, we had to keep rolling, with a quick stop at "The Last Dawg to Die" stop in Walcott, the Lampliter Inn.  I always feel bad for the towns on the last day - riders are in a hurry to get home and don't stick around much, but Clint had done a great job with his outdoor beer garden/Margarita bar there.  Thanks, Clint!

15 more miles in the end, our group stuck together and "draughted" in together.  We were so happy to have spent the week getting to know our new friends on Team Draught and spending time with the ones we already knew, it was with mixed feelings that we finally rolled up to the Ol' Miss.  We at least had the bus ride back to Iowa City to rehash the week and share some more laughter.  Thank you, thank you, Team Draught, for having us tag along - you were so accommodating and fun!

Thank you also to all of our Dawghouses (all 33 of them!).  We're sorry we couldn't get to all of you... promises and timelines are sometimes hard to keep on RAGBRAI, but we truly appreciate your support and hope that your day was a great success!  Thanks to Pearl Vodka for sponsoring us with generous amounts of product to go with our mixes - the Cucumber Vodka with the Bloody Mary mix was exceptionally well received!  Thank you to Team Spin, The Regulators, Team Evil Eye, The Cutters, and all of our other biking friends for being great supporters, and to all of you new fans, thank you for trying Hair of the Dawg and shouting out to us all along the way!  It was great to hear from you.

Sigh.  We're happy to have 440 miles of hills, heat, headwinds, aches, pains behind us.  But given the chance, we'd probably do it again next week.  

Mark & Leslie
Hair of the Dawg

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels 2011 - the first 2 days

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!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels - Day 7

Day 7 - Coralville to Davenport, 65.6 miles, 2363 feet of climb

389 miles down, only 65 to go.  Damn.  Even just writing this blawg, the week has gone too fast.  Those who have never done it will never understand it, but I'm getting goosebumps thinking about the week that lies ahead.  Here's what we have lined up for the final day:

Blackstone, 503 Westbury Drive in Iowa City
I know I covered Blackstone in Day 6's blawg, but inadvertently.  I'm sure many riders will make their way to or overnight in Iowa City, but it's technically a Day 7 stop.  And I have learned some new things about Blackstone's promotion since yesterday's writing.  So, starting 6AM on Saturday, Blackstone will have Hair of the Dawg Bloody Marys in complimentary water bottles (nice!), Bacon Egg & Cheese Biscuits, Breakfast Burritos, free bottled water and a New Belgium Fat Tire Bike giveaway (I saw the bike today and it is a SWEET ride).  Additionally, Blackstone is hosting a RAGBRAI party on Friday, July 29.  Any table with a RAGBRAI wristband will receive one free appetizer or flatbread.

Herb & Lou's, 105 N. Downey in West Branch
Known for their amazing pizza, Herb & Lou's will be serving Breakfast Pizza, a Breakfast Buffet and Fruit.  But I think it's worth the stop just for their cookies.  Hands down the best chocolate chip (chunk) cookies I've ever had, and I'm not a huge chocolate chip fan.  The cookie itself tastes like good, buttery toffee, and is filled with huge chunks of dark chocolate.  I picked some up today when I was there delivering banners.  But I digress.  This is your second-to-last chance to have a tasty Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary before packing it home.  

Dew Drop Inn, 602 5th St. in Durant
Almost 30 miles to the next Dawghouse, the Dew Drop Inn.  They will have their grill fired up for lunch specials, and Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary, Margaritas and Mojitos on hand (last chance for our revolutionary Mojito).

The Lampliter Inn, 143 S. Grove in Walcott
The Last Dawg to Die... this "Best Bar in Scott County" is our last stop.  It's a little off the beaten path, but look for their HUGE banners for directions when you get to town.  Try their famous Homemade Pizza or their incredible Deep Fried Pork Choooooooooooop Sandwich.  Cool down with a Hair of the Dawg Margarita on their covered deck or under their outside water mister.  Heck... you might have so much fun in their beer garden or playing volleyball you might not want to go on to Davenport.  And rumor is that support vehicles will have pretty easy access to riders that prefer to be picked up in Walcott.  But the best reason of all to stop...drum roll... enter your name in a drawing for a Hair of the Dawg Bike Jersey!  Winner will be notified by e-mail the week following RAGBRAI.

So that's it.  Just 14 miles to go.  Slow down, take it all in, and savor it.  We'll be blawging along the way next week, so be sure to check in if you get the chance along the road, or read it to relive the week after you trudge back into the real world.  It's a great cure for the RAGBRAI hangover, along with a little Hair of the Dawg, of course!  ;o)


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels - Day 6

Day 6 - Grinnell to Coralville - 74.9 miles, 2681 feet of climb

It's the week's longest ride, but we're excited about it, because the route goes right through Hair of the Dawg's home territory!  So we have many Dawghouses lined up, with all varieties of our mixes available, starting with Bloody Marys at the Front Street Tap in Brooklyn.

Front Street Tap, 115 W. Front St. in Brooklyn
Brooklyn is known as the "Community of Flags" and boasts a 20' x 38' US flag, surrounded by each of our 50 states' flags, and other special interest flags.  The Front St. Tap will host the ubiquitous Gallagher in their garden, and you can compete in a game of bags while you enjoy your first Hair of the Dawg Bloodies of the day.

The American Legion in Victor
It's hard to go wrong with a Legion breakfast, and the Victor Legionnaires will be serving up Pancakes, Sausage and Eggs with our Bloodies.  If that's not enough reason to stop, consider this:  the American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans service organization, committed to mentoring and sponsorship of youth programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.  Go USA!!

Phool's Gold, 1185 Court Ave. in Marengo
Although not shown on our map, Phool's Gold joined our Dawghouse list post-printing.  Stop in for a $2.50 ice cold domestic beer or a Hair of the Dawg Margarita!

Old Roy's, 2135 Augusta in Oxford
A favorite stop on our regular Wednesday night ride, Old Roy's was an obvious choice, even though there's a bar right up the street officially named "The Dawg House."  Old Roy's will be serving up Tenderloins, Burgers and Chicken Sandwiches in their HUGE parking lot, as Gallagher (again??) spins tunes for happy-footed riders.

Slim's, 301 Main in Tiffin
A few miles off route, but another of our regular Wednesday night stops.  Instead of turning south onto Ivy Road into Coralville, continue east 1/2 mile, then 1 mile south into Tiffin.  Slim's boasts some of the area's best sand volleyball courts, and riders can play bags or dance to Gallagher's (really?? Has this guy been cloned?) tunes while enjoying some of the best burgers in SE Iowa and Hair of the Dawg Margaritas.

Hair of the Dawg is proud to call Iowa City/Coralville home, so we couldn't single out just one Dawghouse.  You can fetch a little Hair of the Dawg at the following locations:

Vesta, 849 Quarry Road in Coralville
If you happen to be "camping" at the Marriott or one of the other hotels nearby, you owe it to yourself to clean up and take a break from typical RAGBRAI fare.  Woodfire pizzas, and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is the standard fare at Vesta.  They will be running dinner and breakfast specials.

Old Chicago, 75 2nd St. in Coralville
You can't do it in one night, but you could get a start on a World Beer Tour as you fill up on Old Chicago's pizza, pasta or sandwiches. 

American Legion, 901 2nd St. in Coralville
Added after printing, the Legion did not make our map. But be sure to stop to fill up on breakfast specials and Bloody Marys before you head out Saturday morning.  No need to rush... it's the last day, so savor it!

The Hideaway, 310 E Prentiss St. in Iowa City
A good friend and great supporter, Amber at the Hideaway gets creative with Hair of the Dawg.  Stop down and order a Beergarita, aka Swamp Dawg.

Orchard Green, 521 S Gilbert St. in Iowa City
Affectionately known as our "Happy Place," Bryan & Shelly really know what they're doing.  Amazing food, soothing atmosphere, this is one of Iowa City's best restaurants!

Blackstone, 503 Westbury Drive in Iowa City
As riders roll out of Iowa City Saturday morning, they will want to be sure to stop for Blackstone's Breakfast Burritos, Biscuit Sandwiches, free bottled water and Bloody Marys in complimentary water bottles! 

We'll be happy to spend this last night in our own beds, where we can rest well to savor the last (sniff!) day.  Back tomorrow with one last preview Blawg!