According to Kevin’s on-board computer, the mileage breakdown goes something like this:
Day 1: 74 miles
Day 2: 81 miles
Day 3: 64 miles (100 miles for Greg)
Day 4: 53 miles
Day 5: 82 miles
Day 6: 61 miles
Day 7: 50 miles
Which brings the blogBRAI total to 465 for Emily, Amy, and Kevin, and 501 for Greg!
This post is coming late. I know. Our apologies. Yesterday moved way too fast for anyone in the blogBRAI team to really catch up too. We were moving, organizing, and finishing our ride… then preparing on how each of us was to get back to the east coast. Never-the-less, our last day on the road went something like this: Emily and Amy woke up with the rest of team Conehead but quickly made it out on the road for fear of not making it to Dubuque, IA on time. We all knew it, but their fears were unfounded! Both the blogBRAI girls had whipped up into excellent bicycling shape by Day 7. Emily and Kevin switched after 21 miles of riding leaving Amy, Kevin, and Greg to finish out the week. Emily would await at the finish line to join in the Conehead cheer!
Day 7 was hilly. We all knew it was coming and were anxiously approaching the ride. Much of the downhills and uphills were tractable. Amy proudly announced that her fear of not braking while screaming down a hill was a thing of the past. There was, however, one monumental hill that burned a look of fear into even the most experienced riders eyes: Potter’s Hill. This was a mile plus at a 19% grade. Greg couldn’t make it in his single speed, that was a given. Amy made it part of the way only to stumble and fall fractions of a mile from the top. As for Kevin? It is still unclear; all we know is that he made it up part and walked the rest.
After many-a-more hills we made it to Dubuque with time to spare. The Conehead team congregated at a park just before our ride into town where we practiced the team song and planned our riding formations for the final stretch down to the muddy Mississippi. Emily and our bus driver, Gary, were down by the water to cheer us all in!
Post dip we grabbed some walking tacos (if you don’t know what that is, just use your imagination) and a handful of crispy egg rolls to go. Our parting shot will be one for the ages; Henkes hands in the middle for a “pound” and a shared appreciation for a week spent sleeping in the same bus, supporting each other on the route, and reflecting all of the wonderful personal accomplishments achieved along the way!
The last time from the field…
During Day 6 we were officially saturated by the RAGBRAI experience! We woke at 6:30 to the pitter-patter of rain showers on the roof of our bus. Fortunately, the days route ran right by our host’s house in Waterloo. As we scrambled to put together our bikes and personal belongs for the ride, the rain picked up to an outright downpour! Greg and Kevin left town sooner after it was declared that soon even worse weather would be blowing into the area. Emily and Amy (the smart ones) would stay behind in the chase car to meet the boys en route.
Greg and Kevin made few stops in “the rain that never once let up”. They pedaled more-or-less straight for 62 miles and arrived in Manchester, IA shortly before noon to meet Emily and Amy at the overnight field. As if the gods were, in fact, conspiring against the blogBRAI team all morning, the skies clear shortly after the boys finished for the day. The rest of the Coneheads trickled in until about 3:00 pm.
Our bus and driver, Gary, suffered some minor difficulties after a run in with the law. There was, apparently, a mishap with the licensing and registration of the bus and, as a result, it was stranded at a highway patrol vehicle stop. About and hour and some alternative driver searching later we ended up with a young fellow from Des Moines named Jeremy who helped us pick-up the bus and drive it to our host’s field! Many thanks Jeremy! After that little speed-bump, it was time to relax with a cold brew and eventually seek out some food in downtown Manchester.
We are currently reporting from The Coffee Den in Manchester, and despite their overwhelmingly slow internet and mediocre coffee, it has not been a bad temporary base for blogBRAI. Off to a church dinner with an empty stomach. Mmm!
Tomorrow is our last day to ride! Oh how the time flies! Stay tuned for more updates and some parting thoughts from the team.
UPDATE: There were 21,000 riders on the road yesterday. We had heard that they were expecting well over the 10,000 but we had no idea it was that high! This information came to Kevin from a state trooper who was holding a click-counter in his hand all day!
Day 5 started out like many of the other days this week. We left Charles City at about 7:00 and headed straight out of town. A visit to Farm Boys has now become a standard operating procedure at 15 miles into the morning.
During our ride through towns we continued to experience the rural America we’ve been seeing all week.
While Greg chipped away at the 82 mile day, Amy and Kevin took some time to enjoy a Mr. Porkchop porkchop and had a brush with some of the fabled Midwestern pirates of RAGBRAI!
Uncle David stopped to visit with Emily on the side of the road to update his blog along the way. Now THAT is some hardcore blogging!
We arrived into Waterloo, IA earlier than some of us had expected; Greg was first, followed by Amy and Kevin. Our host family for the night couldn’t have been more accommodating. They had planned a dinner for FOUR groups (they had a big yard) and we spent most of the evening drinking beer, eating fresh-picked corn, and playing an impromptu game of roller hockey in the driveway. RAGBRAI riders vs. our host’s kids.
After dinner we turned the a/c on in the bus and hunkered down for a good night sleep. There were rumors of storms and rain in the morning. We went to bed hopeful!
We have to take a break from our regular reporting to let our readers know about an injury that has occurred during RAGBRAI(!!!). No, everything is fine in IA, but Greg’s dog, Ruby, suffered a mild foot injury while attempting to flee her room at the doggy resort during a thunderstorm yesterday. Those who know Ruby personally will no doubt understand this behavior in light of her dislike for thunderstorms and it came as no immediate surprise when Greg got a phone call from the vet while on the road.
UPDATE: Ruby is back from the vet’s office and is on her way to a full recovery. She had stitches on her two left legs and bruise her right back leg. She is wearing the “cone of shame” as she heals in the Downtown Dog Resort’s luxury suite :)
We were welcomed into July 28th, in the town of Clear Lake, IA, at 3:00am by a horrific thunderstorm, which produced bone-shattering rumbles and bright white flashes. It woke up the group but passed through the area quickly. Those on the Conehead Team that had decided to sleep in tents that night quickly revised their decision for the coming nights after the downpour that accompanied the fury. The blogBRAI team remained dry and happy in the confines of our team bus.
In the morning we made a quick departure out of Clear Lake and set out for a day that was to be one of the shortest at 52 miles.
One of the first towns we came across, Cartersville, IA, had setup a massive man-made pond and fashioned some sort of industrial tree swing to hang out over the deep end. As one might expect on a day in the mid-80s, the line to jump was long despite the $5 fee.
Kevin, Amy, and Greg then met Emily on route so that Kevin could switch out as the support car driver (Emily would take to the road). During the short break we learned of our fame in the Mason City Globe Gazette. Greg also had time, during the stop, to give the RAGBRAI famous Landshark recumbent rider a Valpo sticker.
…Kevin found some relief along the way…
Emily and Amy continued on and met Greg, and the rest of the Coneheads, in the last town of the day for a beer (or five). Greg had to stop before town and collect some Devonian fossils first (ever the explorer). In town, with cool beers in our hands, we danced in the hot sun all afternoon!
Tomorrow we go for 82 miles; the fun might have to wait for Friday ;)
Being hot and sun burnt was the name of the game today! After playing some catch-up on previous blog posts we are now reporting live from Cabin Coffee Co. in Clear Lake, IA. For the past few days we here at blogBRAI have been struggling to find wireless in the rural mid-West. This may come as a surprise to those of us living near big east coast cities, but we think that it speaks volumes about the continued technological progress that is occurring in rural areas across our fair country. Cell phone coverage, with the 10,000 riders of RAGBRAI trying to call out on only two major networks, has been slow, spotty, and full of dropped calls. Upon our arrival to Clear Lake we were also disappointed at their lack of preparedness; the designated camping fields were reported filled by 8:00 am this morning, forcing our bus to be parked about ten minutes outside of the downtown.
Ok, ok. We digress. We had a great day, despite the heat advisory. Before we set off Greg was adorned with an official Cone head leg tattoo and the entire team posed for a group picture.
For most of the day we biked through immense and vast wind farms that stretched from the eastern horizon to the western horizon. Many Iowans get their electricity from this power, but in a conversation with a local business owner we learned that most of the “power” is bought by and supplies folks in Florida!
Normally these windmills were best seen while visiting the “RAGBRAI restroom” in the cornfields (women to the left of the road, men to the right).
Today was one of the easier days biking with only 60 miles to complete. We hit many towns early in the day and caught up with one of the RAGBRAI roadside staples: Mr. Porkchop. Greg reports that his favorite part of the day is cruising through the smoke plume coming off of Mr. Porkchop’s smokers… mmmm… piiigggg!
Kevin stopped to enjoy some pie, another RAGBRAI staple.
Greg and fellow Cone head, Jen, stopped briefly in Garner, IA to endulge in pork tenderloin sandwiches and strawberry-banana smoothies… the eating on RAGBRAI never ceases… where else would we get our energy from???
Later in the day Amy and Kevin stopped at a bar to use their bathroom. One drink and a little dance didn’t hurt the RAGBRAI mood either!
Due to Clear Lake’s unpreparedness, our bus, at the end of today, was far from any showers, so we had to do it the Henkes way and improvise. A garden hose, a city municipal worker, and an open fire hydrant later we had a cool, very refreshing shower. This spectacle drew many onlookers and the attention of a Mason City Globe Gazette reporter and photographer. We told him our story and he nodded with front page-like approval.
What is in store for Day 4? Who knows, but you can always stop by here tomorrow and check out what trouble we’ve gotten ourselves into!
We awoke Monday morning after a nights sleep cooled by the gentle lake breeze. Greg prepared for his century ride and Amy and Kevin saddled up. Emily was to meet us halfway and switching with Kevin to finish the rest of the day. For those not familiar with the lingo, a century is a 100 mile bike ride in one day. This day on RAGBRAI adds an additional loop to the regular 80 miles of Day 2.
The morning consisted of breakfast burritos and coffee at a great little joint called Farm Boys and we rolled up to Emily with full bellies and evaporated sweat on our brows. The tops of our knees, our upper cheeks, and our mid-forearms were also feeling the heat. Applying plenty of sunscreen has become a routine morning exercise.
The usual agricultural field backdrop to the ride persisted, however, today we seemed to see more of the crazies out… perhaps the tempt (or threat) of a century ride goes straight to a RAGBRAI rider’s head!
Before his century loop Greg loaded up on his favorite RAGBRAI snack: PB&Js with potato chips, pickles, and a slice of american cheese. The folks at PBJam, and the rest of the conehead team, think that he is either crazy or pregnant.
Amy, Greg (post century), and Emily all met up in the last town on the route before heading into the overnight town in Algona, IA. A tired and sun soaked Greg stayed behind to meet the rest of the group for a beer; he drank two, was ditched by the group, and made a hungry, thirsty, and lonely ride 10 miles to the next town. When all was said and done Amy did about 80 miles, Emily and Kevin about 40 each, and Greg completed 100 miles on a single speed bike!
The rest of the Cone head century crew posed for a picture as we ended our day in a front yard in Algona (with a beer in each hand).
What’s in stall for tomorrow? A 60 miler with less than 1000 vertical feet of climb? Pshhhh…. no problem! ;)
So we decided that the first day, Sunday, would be the perfect day to rep our Valpo buddies. Amy and Kevin started us off by rocking a Valpo sticker all the way across country to Nebraska. But Sunday morning started by putting on our new VSP t-shirts, distributing the stickers amongst riders for an aggressive urban advertising campaign, and starting to randomly hand out brochures.
The ride started out immediately with several steep hills and big crowds as we headed out of Sioix City, IA en route to Storm Lake, IA. As us east coasters expected, we were in agricultural fields before we knew it.
The stops we made in the towns along the way were mostly to fill up water bottles and camel packs, as well as to slap some stickers around the small town mid-West. Can you spot the sticker?
In the last town we all stopped to have a cool beer at the Miller Lite tent. This also served as motivation to get us all in to Storm Lake.
Greg finished the day first, soon followed by Amy and Kevin; we all reconvened at our team bus and jumped in the lake to cool off after a hot, hilly day. A friend of the team, and Storm Lake local, was nice enough to take us all on a tour of the lake in his speedboat and to fix our whole crew a dinner of burgers, beans, and fresh veggies. Their generosity was overwhelming and it ended up being a perfect end to a nearly perfect first day on the roads of Iowa.
We arrived in Sioux City in typical Henkes fashion: horn honking and people screaming out the window. We were Sioux City-ing about an hour before our teams’ bus and drove around the RAGBRAI campgrounds and convention center where the majority of the RAGBRAI sanctioned events were taking place. We eventually met our compatriots and engaged in some meet ‘n greeting and good ol’ fashion beer drinking. We set up our bunks in the bus and helped Uncle David assemble his tent.
We checked out some of our new Team Conehead schwag while some of our teamates assembled the Cone Man. This Cone Man will be invaluable during the coming week as it will guide the way to our bus when we riders enter the final towns in the coming days!
We then headed to the Missouri River to do the traditional rear-tire dip…
And, lastly, before we all settled into our chairs to have the last beer of the night, the entire Conehead team posed for a picture… we DID have one misfit (drunk as a skunk) from next door who came in to make a cameo (can you spot him?)