Another year of our annual bike ride is over and now it’s time to unpack the bags and start the laundry. Even though it was really hot (high 90′s with humidity) we sure had a good time. We needed a ride to Glenwood, Iowa so William drove some of us to the starting town and then drove back the next morning. We also wanted him to get some experience driving by himself in larger cities before he leaves next year for college. His drive was 5 1/2 hours long one way, so when he got up the next morning to wish us luck and see us off he went back to bed for a couple more hours. 7 am was a little early for him that morning. During the week he stayed at home and fed the animals and watched over the farm. The only ‘real’ trouble that he had was with our two dogs. Now there’s a surprise huh? Well I don’t know if the dogs were mad that we were gone or if they were happy that we were gone, but they decided to tear up one of our NEW porch cushions. If you remember how hard it was to find them in my earlier post, can you believe that they did this? I haven’t checked it out yet, but William took a picture. I’m hoping that I can just sew it back together.
It rained a couple of days and he took also some pictures of the storm as it rolled by. We’re still trying to figure out the new camera and some of his pictures turned out really cool. But after looking at them I’m thinking that maybe he should have been inside the house where it was a little bit safer.
While I was riding my bike this year, I was thinking how it’s so different this ride was than it was the past few years. Work was really stressful before and riding on the Ragbrai bike ride was a great way to get away from it all. But because I’m not back in the ‘working environment’ I don’t have the same stress as before. So while I was riding my bike I was trying to figure out just why in the world you would do this for 7 days. You are hot, very very wet from sweat, and your whole body can hurt all at once or take turns during the day hurting. So I came up to the conclusion that everyone on the ride has a different reason, and that reason can and will change as you change. So after thinking about this for a few days, I came up with my reason this year to be on the ride. My reason now is to be able to enjoy a week with some friends that we’ve become very close with and also to understand and appreciate the very small things in life. What I mean by this is that sometimes you don’t stop and think about the small things that you are happy that you have. The first thing that comes to my mind is a shower. You have never really enjoyed a shower unless you are riding outside with around 15,000 other riders in the heat and dirt. When you are able to take a shower at the end of the day, I am telling you there is nothing else like it. You peel off your clothes and throw them on a pile and step inside the shower and absolutely everything that could have or did go wrong that day is only a memory. When I first get into the shower I close my eyes and take a deep breath and just enjoy the water coming out and hitting my head. Another thing that you understand much better is at the end of the ride when all your team is in camp, you open up a cold beer and it tastes wonderful. Now it’s not a secret to anyone that I like beer, but when it’s cold and you just rode 65 miles and with an elevation climb of 4700 feet in 98 degree weather – a cold beer sitting around in lawn chairs will never taste the same any other place in the world as it does then. The last thing is just taking the time to think about things. I know that I probably do this too much when I’m riding a bike. I make lists of things in my head what I need to do when I get back, what has gone well these past few months that has been done and other things that I still need to work on. Then I think that I really should probably be home working on those things – so I tell myself to quit thinking and just ride!
Every year, and it looks like this year will be the same I have such a terrible time with retaining fluids when I get home. I can gain 10 pounds in the first few days. Daryl says that he thinks that it’s just in my head but I’m not sure. Some years I can loose my ankles completely and most of my shoes don’t fit. It’s really not a good look by any means! I am thinking that maybe I need to ride the bike for awhile tonight and see if that helps. Well maybe I’ll just see what it looks like tomorrow morning first.
The ride this year was southern Iowa and there are a couple of places along the route that we saw that was really cool. We saw an old German barn that was taken down in Germany and put back together in Iowa, Rock Creek State Park with tons of swimming and camping areas, outside Laser shows , lots of music concerts on main streets, visiting friends who own a micro brewery, ride the hills that they used in the movie ‘Twister’, 200 foot water slides, and got thrown in the 1911 jail in Silver City (just for a photo op) And even though it’s over and it’s now just another memory – it sure is nice to hang out with good friends, eat tons of good food, and to just enjoy the days out with some of your fellow bicyclists – all 15,000 of them!