A Bicycle Vacation
As I approached age 50, I wondered what I could do to commemorate this milestone year. My thoughts almost immediately turned to RAGBRAI – the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa — the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world. I had heard stories and thought, “no, not for me.” But now, in my Golden year, why not? Let’s live a little!
So, off to Iowa I went to ride from the Missouri to the Mississippi River, accompanied by my two sons and 9,997 other cyclists. In all, our trip would take seven days and cover 481 miles.
Iowa isn’t the most exciting place to ride (a lot of corn and soybeans), but that part didn’t matter — the real highlights of the ride were the various communities and individuals along the route.
Other communities highlighted their heritage through a wide variety of foods. Pies were always plentiful, and pork was everywhere; pulled pork, pork chop on a stick, smoked pork loin sandwiches, pork ribs. About the only pork item I didn’t see was pork ice cream, but there were other varieties of delicious homemade ice cream along the route.
481 total miles of riding, and I gained weight.
The highlight for residents was the endless parade of bicyclists, riding every style of bike you can think of, decked out in just about anything you can imagine.
There was Banana Man (think “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”). There was the guy wearing only a loincloth, the rider dressed as Superman (down to a red thong over his bike shorts) and there were the women with the fake naked butts. Helmets were accessorized with anything from flowers and zip ties, construction cones and Margarita glasses, to wind turbines and animal heads.
No wonder people set up their lawn chairs and got out the coolers.
All in all, it was an enjoyable week. Sure, the weather could have been cooler and the accommodations more comfortable. But I had gone for the atmosphere, and I don’t know if that experience can be found anywhere other the RAGBRAI.
*A quick update for riders of the Oak Leaf Trail: the underpass under Bluemound Rd. at the Menomonee Parkway is open! Even though the Parkway is technically closed at Bluemound, the underpass allows bicyclists on the Oak Leaf Trail to continue their ride uninterrupted by construction or traffic. Enjoy!