We made it back from our bike ride and it was a great time! I mean how often can you leave for a week and don’t have to think about a thing other than what should we eat supper and well honestly that’s about it! And not to brag or anything but I didn’t even check my work emails once! Granted I’ll probably pay for it on Monday, but for this week that was my rules and I was happy that I followed them!
So what did we all do on our bike ride? Well the first day for me is always the most nervous. There are some riders that we know that actually have rode over 1000 miles before they went on the ride. Yea, that wasn’t us. Daryl and I got around 65 miles in and I was sure hoping that I wouldn’t keel over the first couple of days. The first days were supposed to have the most hills and you guessed it, they were right! But I just kept plugging along and made it through. I was riding with all guys from our group and they can ride a lot faster than I can. But they were all nice and let me tag along which is cool.
I tried to keep track all the things that we saw that was unique or I haven’t seen before and here is my list:
Jolly Time factory – Sioux City Iowa. This company is over 100 years old and is still owned and operated by the same family that started it. It is the oldest popcorn company in the United States. Now I didn’t take a picture of the factory but I did get a good look at it as we drove by with our bikes. When I was checking on the details of the company after we got home and I read that the average person eats 51 quarts of popcorn a year. Now that’s a lot of popcorn! I sure know that our family does it’s share to keep the average up.
Gypsum mine – Fort Dodge Iowa. The gypsum deposits have first been reported in this area around 1850’s and with Iowa ranking third in the nation for gypsum production, 2/3 of the production comes from the Ford Dodge area. The mine looked really big from the road and one of our group stopped and went through the ditch to get a better look at it and he said that it was HUGE! It sounded like they use this material for wall board and plaster.
Wilton Candy Kitchen – Wilton Iowa. This store is located in Wilton, IA, and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Founded by R.A. McIntyre in 1860, The Candy Kitchen is the oldest ongoing Ice Cream Parlor / Soda Fountain in the world and has been serving ice cream, lunches, and candy for over 150 years. Under the ownership of the Nopoulos family since 1910, it is currently run by George and Thelma Nopoulos. And let me just tell you that it is pretty cool! Now this time I did get a picture of the inside and it is definitely some place that I’d like to stop in sometime when I wasn’t wearing spandex!
Coralville Dam – Coralville Iowa. This dam was started in 1949 but with the Korean war going on, it was delayed and finished in 1958. Even though there is no unique facts about this lake, the dam and the lake is amazing and fun to ride your bike over. The lake can hold over 137 billion gallons of water. Now that’s a lot of water! Heres a quick snapshot of Daryl and I after climbing up the hill after the dam.
Best thing I heard someone say on Ragbrai – “Move beside me and break wind” Bwaaahaaa that just makes me laugh when I think of it. Not normally do you want someone to break wind by you
My personal challenge of the trip – I was going up this HUGE hill (well it was huge for me) and I couldn’t get to bike to shift into the lower gears. Now when this happens you have two options. Option number one is to keep trying and Option number two is to give up and pray to God that you don’t bust your chain. Well once I tried the option number one and it didn’t work, I had to leave it in the higher gears and just hope that I wouldn’t bust my chain. Now in this whole ordeal I found also a personal lowest record for mph on my bike. I was cranking away at around 2 mph. If you think this is slow – you’re right! But I didn’t break my chain but I did make some deals that if I made it OK to the top I would be nice the next day to everyone. It was one of those deals like you make when you were young and playing Little League. If the ball wasn’t hit to you then you would have to be nice the next day to your brothers and sisters. Can you tell that I probably wasn’t the star ball player for our team? Well maybe you never made those deals but I sure did! The good part of my deal is that over the years I finally got smarter and didn’t commit to how long I had to be nice!
We were really grateful to have just awesome houses to stay at once again and here is a picture of hot air balloons flying over the water right by us on the lake. And one house had over 70 people staying there!
Tons of concerts to go to and honestly just a good time hanging out with good friends all week long.
Now I know that this ride means something different to everyone and that’s cool. But for me it’s a time to get away from all the ‘stuff’ that goes on from day to day and ride your bike on the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world with about 15,000 of your closest fellow bicyclers.
So from giant bicycles and ice cream cones to hay tossing and Little League gameshere’s to what was another fun week on our bicycles.
And I’ve saved the best picture for last. It’s my ‘Hanging with the Pope picture” And to top it off, after I asked this guy to take my picture he stuck his hand out. I thought he wanted money or something and when I asked him how much I owed him he said “I’m glad to meet you, I’m Father (?)” Yikes, little did I know that I was going to be making deals with God later on in the week or I would have given him some money!