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"