A brutal day on the RAGBRAI road

July 30, 2012 —

Last week, Des Moines University Trustee Brian Hart, owner of Hart Financial LLC in Des Moines, and his wife, Julie, joined approximately 15,000 other bicyclists from around the world during RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This annual week-long bike ride, now in its 40th year, is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world. While the route changes every year, the ride – which the Register dubs a “rolling celebration of Iowa” – always begins somewhere on the state’s western border on the Missouri River and ends on its eastern border on the Mississippi River. This year’s ride of 471.1 miles was Brian’s and Julie’s fifth RAGBRAI. Below, Brian shares perspectives from the RAGBRAI road, Day 4.

RAGBRAI: Wednesday, July 25
Webster City to Marshalltown, 77 miles (NOT!)

It was expected to be a challenging day. It was a brute. The heat index was over 120 with actual on the road temps at 110 or more. People were dropping out. By mid-afternoon there were noticeably fewer riders on the road.

We decided in the future we will just say no if the forecast is over 100. It was not fun. If we had an easy way back to Des Moines, we would have gone home. And tomorrow is the long day of the ride at 85 miles. Kind of spooking us.

Several members in our group were dehydrated to the point of needing medical attention and will not ride Thursday.

So finally into camp. Julie, as planned, decided to head home to take care of some things there. It’s just me to set up the tent and get ready for the night. I can’t figure out the air mattress. That has been her job. It is one that you plug in and it will blow itself up. I disabled it trying to inflate it. Great, sleeping on hard ground.

The weather pattern was expected to change and cool off. It did that via 60-mile-an-hour winds, big lighting and finally heavy rain. Everything is wet. It is cooler. Very exciting evening. One of the compounding factors of camping is that after four day and 280 miles,  your body is not only tired, but you also become sleep-deprived from the camping experience.

Got to be up at 4:45 to get that long day started. As soon as that wind quits trying to blow me and the tent away, I am certain I will sleep.

Oh, and today was not the 77 miles advertised, it was 86.

A memorable day. Can’t remember ever experiencing the prolonged intensity of heat we had today.


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