After I blogged yesterday, I walked out of the Iowa Telecom trailer, and a young man came up and said, â€œExcuse me, but were you by any chance at a Templeton Foundation conference in Oxford about 10 years ago?â€ Okay, I know that when you travel, especially to a place where other people are also traveling, youâ€™re likely to meet someone you know from back home. But this guy met me when he was a sophomore in college, attending this conference with his dad, who was a religion professor at Augustana college, and we probably spoke a dozen times over a week-long conference ten years ago. He saw my name on the sign-in sheet for the internet trailer and recognized it, and then picked me out even though my hair is now about a foot shorter. Iâ€™m impressed. Anyway, heâ€™s just accepted a position teaching at Augustana also, and he says I gave him advice about choosing a graduate school. His name is Mark Larsen, and his father, Dennis, walked up while we were talking â€“ but I donâ€™t think he remembered me, which gives me some relief.
Later I went to St. Patrickâ€™s Center and had cavatini and pie. Back at camp I noticed that the black couple from St. Louis had set up camp near me, and I went by and talked to them a bit. The wife asked me about the cavatini dinner, and I said it was okay, but the pie wasnâ€™t nearly as good as the pie in Manning. The husband looked over all excited, and said â€œSee! See?â€
She rolled her eyes. â€œDonâ€™t get him startedâ€¦â€
â€œI was in PIE HEAVEN! Man, I was in PIE HEAVEN!â€
We discussed the virtues of the Blue Ribbon Pies at the senior center in Manning for a while and came to an agreement that 1) Pie is important and 2) That was damn good pie. Theyâ€™re Wesley and Ann, by the way.
Anyway, they left to go eat, and I turned in early, as I was still tired and sore. There was a big area set aside for the â€œDream Teamâ€ near us â€“ I think maybe disadvantaged kids get to ride RAGBRAI or something. Anyway, they cheered each new arrival loudly, and I think the last straggler showed up sometime after 8. Rough day, as everyone agreed.
Audubon to Waukee
The alarm went off at 5 AM, and I picked my way through the crowded tents in the dark to the port-a-potties*. You donâ€™t have to wait in line at 5 AM. There were actually some people riding out even then with headlights on. I got packed and on the road by about 6:15.
It was a much easier day today. There were still lots of hills** , but only about 8-10 miles headed south into the wind. I did purposely take it easy, though, keeping a fast cadence and not pushing too hard. The biggest pass-through town stop was about 27 miles in, at Guthrie Center. It was 8:30 in the morning, and the place was packed with bikers â€“ RAGBRAI is like a week-long street fair that moves with you, and this one was huge, with loads of booths selling food, fixing bikes, etc. I went to the Boy Scout booth and had pancakes. Trying to keep my carbs up. There was an announcer touting Budweiser products in the beer garden and bloody Marys, although it didnâ€™t look like there were that many takers.
We finally hit the first really flat stretch in the trip so far outside of Waukee, the last 3 or 4 miles. I made good time, but overall it was a pretty slow day. 68 miles, 15.6 mph. Still, I feel good now.
Waukeeâ€™s theme for RAGBRAI is â€œWau-Ke-Keeâ€, and there were people giving you leis at several points rolling into town. I found the baggage truck right away, and started looking for a nearby site to camp. Iâ€™m starting to get this figured out. I canâ€™t carry my 50-pound bag very far, so it has to be close to the truck, and it needs to have afternoon shade so I can rest. The campgrounds around the truck were pretty depauperate in trees, but I did find a few big ones in a group. I found a good spot. It has some drawbacks, mainly that itâ€™s very near the â€œSecondary Stage.â€ But Iâ€™m hoping that one wonâ€™t go too late tonight.
I headed for the nearest shower venue, the high school just down the street. It was only $2 for a shower, about half what itâ€™s been elsewhere. So far Iâ€™ve had one shower in the shower trucks, sort of an open-air affair with tarps hung up and a shower like having someone hold a sprinkling can full of cold tap water over your head. Then yesterday it was at the public pool, which had pressure but was still pretty tepid. This one, you pushed a little button and a stinging spray of scalding water came out for about 30 seconds. Then you soap up something else, press again, etc. It was interesting, to say the least.
After the shower, I was starving***, so I walked back via the food vendorsâ€™ path in the park. I got the vegetarian pasta benefiting the local dance group. It was a huge plate of rainbow rotini heaped with sautÃ©ed peppers, zucchini, squash, and crushed tomato sauce. Good stuff.
Back to the tent to write some notes while halfway watching the BMX trick bike show (more drawbacks of my location), and then to the library, where Iâ€™m now blogging this. I thought for a minute I had hit the picture jackpot â€“ the computer has Paint Shop Photo Album installed â€“ but the â€œpremium featuresâ€ such as resizing a damn photo have been disabled. Ah, well. I guess Iâ€™ll just have a â€œpicture-book versionâ€ RAGBRAI blog next week. Kind of like when people give you birthday presents late, it makes your birthday last longer.
Note added:Â At the library I was sitting next to a guy who was also typing furiously away — turns out he was Lonnie Cook, a columnist for the Muscatine Journal.Â He asked me if I knew the mileage for today’s ride, and I had a copy of the route maps with me.Â He was interested to hear I was blogging the ride, and I gave him the URL.Â He mentioned it in that day’s column.
*Or â€˜kybosâ€™ as theyâ€™re known on RAGBRAI â€“ I donâ€™t know if this is unique to this event, or if itâ€™s a regionalism or something.
**Total climb today 2939 feet, compared to 3076 yesterday. Thatâ€™s not net gain in altitude; itâ€™s the sum of all the uphills.
*** Total food consumed so far today: 2 bananas, 1 muffin, 1 cinnamon roll, 1 power bar, 3 pancakes, 1 glass juice, 1 bottle Gatorade, 1 large plate pasta and veggies, 3 slices of bread. Iâ€™m ready for dinner.