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

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