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 6.
RAGBRAI: Friday, July 27
Cedar Rapids to Anamosa, 42 miles
A perfect day for biking. Early morning temperature of 70 degrees. First stop is 17 miles out. Mount Vernon is a beautiful community and was well prepared. Tree-lined streets and warm, welcoming smiles are everywhere.
This RAGBRAI route has lots of rolling hills. After you ride a while, you actually come to like some hills for the diversity they offer. Every climb is rewarded with a coast.
The group we ride with has a box truck that hauls the clothes, bags and camping gear to the next town. Our group’s truck leaves at 6 a.m., ready or not. So each morning you have to get dressed and packed and take down the tent well before then. Today, as normal, we were riding by 5:45 a.m.
As difficult as that schedule seemed initially, those early morning hours on the road are the best. There is often a coolness that you know will not last. The sweet smell of the corn is in air. The riders are less talkative. Nature is talking. Roosters are crowing and the pigs let you know they are happy as their feeders clang shut. There is tranquility and peacefulness!
RAGBRAI always has riders that start with the idea of riding the whole week and then decide otherwise. This year it feels like there are substantially fewer late-week riders on the road than normal. The wind, heat and toil of the journey have had their impact. They are missing the best day! They will not know why to give it another try!
There is a view that RAGBRAI is for the partiers and drinkers. It offers that option. I think there are very, very few that ride every mile and party every night.
In preparing for the ride, people ask how may miles do you have to train. My response is you need to have enough miles to have trained your rear to tolerate the bike seat. Your legs will adapt. Your behind only gets less tolerant as the miles wear on.
The Mount Vernon Methodists win the prize for best cinnamon roll of the day. We did not sample all the possibilities but crowned a winner with what we knew.
Tomorrow is the last day. The ride is 70 miles from Anamosa to Clinton. A few of us are taking a detour that will deprive us of the final 40 miles. We will still get 450 or so for the week. Am not feeling a bit cheated.
As you get ready to finish, you are tired and sore. Looking forward to a real bed and shower. Satisfied that you were able to achieve the goal. Wondering: Will we do it again? When we ship the bikes home, we have to remove the pedals. How many weeks or months will the bike sit in the garage without pedals?
The finish line is near!