Sunday, July 21, 2013

RAGBRAI Review - We're back for 2013

The last time I posted, I was in Colorado.  That was only a week ago, and now the whole family is in Iowa, again.  Somehow, the strange tradition of biking across Iowa in the summertime keeps drawing us back. This is mine and Neva's third run, and our second year as a family.  Maybe it's the mid-western hospitality, maybe it's being able to rule the road with throngs of other cyclists for an entire week, or maybe it's Beekman's Ice Cream.  Whatever it is, you make friends for life year after year to go along with fun memories, and you get a wicked bike shorts tan.

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.
We did all make it to the end though, a little more addicted to food-on-the-go and a lot more tanned.

Neva at 20 months old on her first RAGBRAI.  Neck cooler + Cold Emergen C water = 1 happy Neva

In 2012, I talked Christian into joining us.  I think he may have been a little bit skeptical, but dove right in to whatever RAGBRAI had to bring.  He even decided to join the festivities and adorn his face with a mustache before we left.  

Christian fitting in very well.

2012 was an extremely hot year for RAGBRAI.  Three days in the middle of the week were over 80 miles, and all three days were over 102 degrees F.  Plenty of root beer floats were consumed.

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.
We made it to our destination right as it was getting fully dark.  Dennis and Denise welcomed us right away and made us feel at home.  I whipped up a quick 9:30 pm dinner for my family from left over traveling food.  With some substitutes from the O'Tooles, we had quite the tasty meal.  

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.

In RAGBRAI tradition, there must be sweets.  Denise served us a dessert made fresh by her grand daughter.  A rhubarb crumble from scratch, a la mode.
A mixture of tart and sweet with crispy and soft textures make this a wonderfully complex and tasty dessert.

Thanks Denise and Dennis for the great RAGBRAI welcoming!  

And off we will start tomorrow.  What will it bring this year?  High temps, hills, rain, winds?  I'll let you know.  One thing I can tell you for sure, there will be lots of corn.

1 comment: