|Throng of cyclists waiting in line for a delicious burrito. THIS is RAGBRAI.|
In 2011, Neva and I were offered the chance to bike RAGBRAI with Ben and Todd about a week before it started. Not knowing what we were getting into, and in the middle of moving, it sounded like we were going to have a fun summer. We decided to start out in Omaha, Nebraska, and stay with Todd's mother. We left a day early getting in 30 miles to the start in Glenwood, Iowa.
|Two men, a woman, and a baby about to head to the start.|
2011 was a great year to be initiated into the RAGBRAI family. With high temperatures and lots of rollers, it was a standard 'Welcome to Iowa' greeting. That might sound terrible at first glance, but when you're all in it together, it's lots of fun. One of the days even had a hill that boasted the name Dead Man's Curve. I remember how great the 2 mile downhill felt as the wind blew through my hair at 30+ mph, and then about half-way through remembering that what goes down must eventually go back up!
|Ben and Neva smiling nicely...with me poking in some bunny ears.|
|Neva at 20 months old on her first RAGBRAI. Neck cooler + Cold Emergen C water = 1 happy Neva|
|Christian fitting in very well.|
|Me - laying down exhausted, Neva - in tackle mode and eager to play|
We had lots of animal interactions this year. One of our warm showers hosts had horses, and there was a petting zoo with ponies, goats, pigs and chickens. Not only do you discover the little gems with biking through small towns, but you also get greeted by the entire town, with banners and food. Really, any cyclists dream.
|Neva watching the horses. Later, she got to ride one.|
We always start and end our RAGBRAI adventure at our friend Sue's house in Kansas. It's a nice stopping point between Iowa and Texas, and we get to wind down with Sue at her ranch. Sue has llamas, vegetable crops, and a knack for hospitality, so it's easy for us to settle in and rest our biking bones for a day.
|Sue and her youngest llama at the time.|
We stopped in to see Sue for 2013 and enjoyed waffles and stories before heading toward Omaha. We dropped our car off near the airport and biked twelve miles to our warm showers host in Council Bluffs. On the ride, we got to cross a beautiful pedestrian bridge that links the two towns. This is where you might do the traditional tire dip, but we decided to stand next to the water instead. Fully loaded bikes with a trailer are not as easy to dip!
|There is the bridge in the background. We are on the Nebraska side about to cross over.|
Apparently, there is some controversy and friendly rivalry over the bridge between the two towns. In the end, they get along, but some might refer to the bridge as 'The Bridge that Leads to Nowhere".
|A local (possibly bridge-crossed) couple enjoying the view of the bridge from the Iowa side.|
|Vegan turkey and havarti cheese on a whole wheat pita. Denise gave me some fixin's of home made tomato basil mayonnaise, with lettuce and tomato. A couple slices of citrus (grapefruit) on the side was a great compliment.|
|A mixture of tart and sweet with crispy and soft textures make this a wonderfully complex and tasty dessert.|