Friday, July 30, 2010

Days 4 & 5

Between full days of riding, catching up with our saggers and having iffy internet access, I haven't blogged for a while, but remember, I didn't make any promises. Reading my last update, I failed to give credit where it was due, so I want to go back to Day 3 for a moment.

As I mentioned, Johnny's Bar in Wesley was rockin' when we got there. What I didn't mention was that Team Draught and the Regulators were the ones who led us astray there. I mean, how do you pass up a party like this???

On Day 4, lower temperatures and humidity with a light breeze from the North provided welcome relief from Tuesday's 100+ heat index. We had a little later start than we had planned, however, and I need to digress for a moment. Two years ago on RAGBRAI, we sagged one rainy day on Team Evil Eye's bus. Mark behaved so impressively, dancing and mooning at the front of the bus, that he earned himself a pair of monkey beads. Completely oblivious to the significance, he wore those beads proudly every day. On the last day, we ran into his cousins in the next to last town, and one of them was wearing the same beads. He laughed when he saw Mark and asked, "What did you do to earn the dumbass beads?"

So now, 2 years later, those beads have finally changed hands again (the wearer of the beads keeps them until someone else tops his/her dumbassery). So. Wednesday morning I decided it was time to reorganize/repack the car. And I did a spectacular job of it. We had said our goodbyes to my sister and brother-in-law when I realized I hadn't seen the car key in a while. I vaguely recalled setting the key on the folded-down seat when I opened the car. Forty minutes, two unpackings and repackings later, we finally pulled up the seat to find it lodged down inside the seat. I didn't even wait for it... I just marched over and took the beads off of Mark.

A late start isn't always a bad thing... with the majority of riders already gone, it leaves the road wide open, and with a moderate tailwind, we flew down the road. The Rockwell Chamber hosted a beer/bloody mary (Hair of the Dawg, of course) garden, where we caught up with the Regulators again for a couple of refreshments. Heading down the road again, we made a cornfield stop and couldn't have timed it better. As we rolled back onto the road, the Regulators passed us in a draft line. We caught the tail of it, and flew down the road with them. Thanks for the pull, guys!

Near Cartersville, we came upon a farm where I'm guessing nearly 5,000 riders had pulled over for a hell of a party. A platform led up to a swing where bikers were lined up to swing out over a pond and drop in. We watched for a while before rolling on... rumor has it the party really cranked up there, including the requisite RAGBRAI nudity.

We took a leisurely ride into Charles City, stopping at the Rockford Golf Course, where riders were shuttled on golf carts from the road to the clubhouse to enjoy a cold beverage and some shade. We rolled into the Wildwood Golf Course in Charles City, another Dawghouse, and found a text message had come from one Sag Queen 1, letting us know that my ownership of the monkey beads was to be short lived. It seems Sag Queen A had to do a little dumpster diving to retrieve the car key, lost for the second time that day! As of this writing, she is still wearing them.

We met the Queens at our accommodations for the night. While I am always grateful not to have to sleep in a tent at the end of a long ride, this night may have been the exception. The Best Budget (aka Bed Bug) Inn was, at least, good for a laugh (or several). Suffice it to say we were happy the Sag Queens had brought plenty of extra bedding. Other patrons of the same hotel reported finding mold in their sheets. At least the vending machine was loaded with tasty snacks for us:

Thursday was a long day - 82 miles. But it was my day to hit the wall. My legs refused to work, and there wasn't a spot on my saddle that felt good. Shoulders and neck hurt, head threatened to throb... sagging seemed like a good idea. We met the Sag Queens in Parkersburg, loaded our bikes, and sagged the second half to our reward for the night at the Bed Bug Inn... the Isle Casino in Waterloo. A swim, a hot tub, and a Hair of the Dawg Margarita were just what we needed to fire up for the last two days of riding.

But it could be Saggy Friday. The reason I've finally found time to catch up on the Blawg is that it's pouring rain, and we're having trouble talking ourselves into getting on our bikes. I think we're going to have to tough it out... we have 5 Dawghouses on the route today. We were VERY well-represented yesterday... 4 Dawghouses in Clarksville and at least as many in Parkersburg. Everywhere we stop we hear about how good our mix is, making every blister on our butts worth the ride.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Days 2 & 3

Day 2 we woke again to blue skies and moderate temps. Our hosts live closer to Varina, the first town out on the route, which seemed like a convenient enough excuse for some of us to cut out the first 16 miles.

For all of the hills we battled the first day, day 2 was flat, flat, flat. The wind had picked up, but out of the East Southeast, and the route meandered enough to give us almost an equal amount of head/crosswinds and tailwinds.

Pocahontas was our first Dawghouse of the day, and the Hair of the Dawg was a big hit there. Later in the day we stopped at a golf course for a beer (we can't drink Hair of the Dawg ALL day!). As we approached the beer stand one of the bartenders shouted, "Hair of the Dawg!! I love your mix and have it at home!"

We rolled into Algona around 4:00 and went straight to Berte's Back Nine, our final Dawghouse of the day. They had an extra bar set up, where thirsty riders were happy to find a refreshing Hair of the Dawg margarita or mojito. They sold tons of them there. We were so lucky to find this spot. Not only did owner Leann promote our mix... she opened her home to us, complete with swimming pool! What a great way to end Day 2.

Day 3 we woke to find bodies all over the house, and poolside. Turns out Geoff, the owner of our favorite bike shop, and his team were camping out at Leann's as well. One of the guys gave me the forecast... 90+ degrees and wind gusts of 30 mph. Ugh.

The route was again, fortunately, flat flat flat. We set out to Wesley, and found the town, and Johnny's, Dawghouse #1, rockin'. We stayed maybe a little longer than we should have, and paid for it most of the rest of the day.

At a roadside stop, our riding companion and old friend from Mason City, mentioned a shortcut from Garner to final destination Clear Lake that would take 13 miles off the long last leg. I announced that I would complete the whole route, but by the time we got into Garner I relented. The sun and heat were brutal!!

I was happy to ride into Clear Lake, my home town, and spend the night at my sister's house, along with almost 50 campers in their back yard! As I'm typing this, bad weather threatens to the North. Hopefully it will slide off in a different direction so the thousands of campers in town have a dry and restful night. And now it's off to my own restful night, with hopes for cooler temperatures and tailwinds tomorrow!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The First Day

It couldn't have started out better. After an evening in Sioux City on Historic 4th STreet, with entertainment by Smashmouth followed by an amazing fireworks display, we woke to blue skies, mild temperatures and just the right amount of cooling breeze.

Sag Queen 1 and Sag Queen A woke early to prepare breakfast burritios for us before we headed down to the Missouri River for the traditional rear tire dip with our new friends, Dr. Doug of Spencer, IA and brothers Mark & Marty of Grand Rapids, MI. Pure adrenelin fueled us through the hills of Sioux City (but what was up with that never-ending hill that didn't even look like a hill??) and Leeds (where we hooked up with 'Hood friend, Jim) out to the open road.

Somewhere along the route we lost Jim, a slightly less-trained rider than the rest of us, and assumed that he had fallen way behing or stopped for rest or nutrition. In Quimby, we reunited with Sag Queens 1 & A, refueled with Gatorade, water and bananas, and settled on a plan to meet at Dawghouse #2 - Puff's in Storm Lake. The first rider in was to be awarded the Yellow Duck beads... the equivalent of the coveted Tour de France yellow jersey.

I was definitely losing steam finishing the ride (a long 23-mile finish into Storm Lake from Quimby), but did my best to go for the gold (or yellow). Much to our surprise, we walked into Puff's to find Jim, the supposed lost one, sitting there in the Yellow Duck beads.

All along the road and at all stops, Hair of the Dawg was getting rave reviews and we were getting many requests for jerseys, tattoos and mix. We were even announced by the DJ in Washto as we were riding through town.

And the day is winding down perfectly at the home of our hosts, John & Sandy. We have bellies full of pasta and sweet corn, and comfortable accommodations for the night. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience... a great Iowa tradition, and one we hope you can all take part in some day. G'night!

Missouri River Dip

Rolling into Kingsley, IA

The Yellow Duck

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dawgs on Wheels!

I know it's been a long time since our last entry... but we have a good excuse! Since our last blog we've been busy setting up distributors in five states, and three more will be added soon! AND we've added three new mixes to our line: Chipotle Bloody Mary, Strawberry Margarita/Daiquiri and Madras (cranberry-orange) Mojito. Start watching for those in stores over the next few weeks!

Next week we'll take a break (sort of) by taking part in the greatest bicycling event in the US of A: RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). Thousands of bikers, from every corner of the country and from abroad will dip their back tires in the Missouri River, then head East over hill, dale and county road across the state to the mighty Mississip, and we'll be among them.

Along the way, we have set up "Dawghouses" where thirsty riders can stop and sample a little Hair of the Dawg. To see the list of Dawghouses, check the Where to Fetch page of our website and download the map. It's my hope (I know better than to promise) to blog about our progress each night. So stay tuned for pictures and stories of the Dawgs on wheels!