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until next time

2010 August 20
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RAGBRAI has come and gone. After some rough ragbrai fun times withdrawal, we have all settled back into our “normal” (read: not on a bike tour) lives and routines. Even after my bike accident, we all came to a strong consensus that there will be more RAGBRAIs (and other bodyssey rides) in our futures. During the ride we had grand plans of starting our own team with a sweet party bike bus and uniforms, or at least joining one of the awesome teams we met this past year. So, readers of our blog, whoever/wherever you may be… until next time! The Bodyssey lives on!

INJURY UPDATE: After seeing an orthopedic shoulder doc, the diagnosis is a slight AC (acromioclavicular joint) separation, which caused/is causing bicep tendinitis. All things considered this is a pretty minor injury (no surgery necessary at this point), just rest, ice, and physical therapy for the next 4-6 weeks. Let’s hope so… I’m already registered for the Trek Women’s Triathlon in about a month… whoops. But, the shoulder recovery is going well so far–almost complete range of motion is back and strength is slowly coming back too.

A (slightly depressing) bit of medical history– I think this is part of my 3-year curse. The first ACL went in 2004, the second in 2007, and my shoulder in 2010. So, no need to worry. I should be safe until 2013. But seriously, I do try to protect my body. I would like to be able to be active when I’m fifty and not a knot of artificial joints. Since the ACLs have been repaired, I’ve been careful with my knees– not participating in twisting/pivoting sports, meanwhile falling in love with cycling, running, and triathlons (things that are safe for my knees).  So, never fear– I’ll be back on the bike in no time!

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day seven: all RAGBRAIs must come to an end

2010 August 19
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7.31.2010: manchester, ia to dubuque,ia (47 miles for Erin).

Despite the eventful day we had yesterday that took us from drenched in the rain, to dancing in the sun, to being x-rayed in an ER, we were all very sad to think that the end of RAGBRAI had finally come. Both my bike and body were in absolutely no condition to ride the last day. Luckily, we met up with the Pedro’s bike team that we had met earlier in the week (Jay helped me install the oh-so-important hamburger bike bell that became an important fixture on our trip) and they generously offered to give me (and Julia, both to keep me company and on top of the fact that by the end of the week she was dealing with hand numbness due to her slightly too small bike frame) and our bikes a ride to Dubuque, the ending town for RAGBRAI. Check out Pedro’s sweet ride below. Erin, the champ that she is, rode the last day, a short(-er) but very hilly 47 miles in a much faster-than-bodyssey pace with Sean, the other Pedro’s man. We met up in the baking sun of Dubuque and congratulated our master ride finishers.

The next task was taking the bikes apart and boxing them. Again, with the amazing help of the Pedro’s men (help that I no doubt needed– packing up a bike with one arm would have been impossible), we got the job done in no time and set off to find food. We made our way up to the downtown area of Dubuque and found exactly what we never knew we wanted– a pizza shop/bar in the dark, very air-conditioned basement of a building.  It was a perfect retreat from the sun and heat and we rehydrated and noshed on some seriously cheesy pizza.

We said our farewells and thank yous to Jay and Sean and split ways. I’ve said it once before, and I’ll say it again: the kindness and generosity of (cyclist) strangers never ceases to impress me. Cyclists are the best. BUY PEDRO’S PRODUCTS!

We were slightly unsure of what exactly our plan was as our ride wasn’t leaving until the next day. We debated pitching our tent in the camping area, but it seemed like pretty much every RAGBRAI rider split out of Dubuque as quickly as possible (I don’t blame them, it was a long sweaty week). Julia slipped into a hotel when we were walking around downtown and miraculously got the canceled room from the gentleman in line in front of her. What luck. Although it was a slightly stinky smoking room, we had BEDS and we were happy. We spent the rest of the afternoon napping, and showering, and napping.

As the sun was setting, we ventured out for one last hurrah night of RAGBRAI. We thought it was the opportune time to bust out the mustaches. Each donning our very unique facial hair style (we think they each chose US), we made our way down to the old Dubuque Star Brewery right along the waterfront.  What was simply a silly and fun thing for us (wearing fuzzy mustaches), pretty much caught everyone off guard. Multiple people took our pictures and even the band called us out as the “mustache girls.” After enjoying a beer, listening to the band for a bit, and touring the museum part of the brewery, we made our way back to downtown for more adventuring.

A few notable finds: Paul’s bar– where we enjoyed $2 ham and cheese sandwiches and $1 goblets of beer all to the bizarre decor of enormous taxidermy animals, including a polar bear. Yes, we saw a polar bear and Iowa. Also– this weird painting of JFK.

After one last dance, we made our way back to our hotel and crawled very happily into our beds.

All RAGBRAIs must come to an end.

day six: ouch.

2010 August 18
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7.30.2010: waterloo, ia to manchester, ia (almost). (61 miles, but really 45).

Did we mention we heard it was going to rain? Well, rain it did. We arose from our tent to gray skies, a very light drizzle, and the rumble of thunder in the distance. We quickly packed up camp to avoid a total soaking up our supplies and hit the road as the quickly as we could. And then it poured. And thundered. And lightning-ed. Within 10 minutes of riding, we were soaked to the core, our rain jackets merely sticking to our wet bodies. We pulled off the road for a cup of hot coffee and some shelter under an easy-up in the front yard. After a few minutes we had to push on… couldn’t delay the inevitable forever.

We returned to our bikes and road another 15 or so miles. And, for the first time since being in Iowa, we were cold. Chilled to the bone. It was a cycling catch-22. You had to ride fast to stay warm, but the faster you rode, the more water splashed into your face, down your neck and back, cooling you even more. We got slightly spaced out, as we were each trying to go our own speed to keep warm and be safe. Julia (who will forever have good bike karma) stopped to help someone with a flat, putting her a few minutes behind us. We stopped to regroup at a food stop, and warmed up in a barn with dozens of sopping cyclists. Julia finally ate one of the famous Mr. Porkchops, which proved to be an excellent piece of pork.

The rain let up a little bit, so we pushed on. Slowly, the rained turned to a drizzle, but the winds kept up. But we could see blue skies ahead, so our spirits were raised a bit. [At one point I stopped to fill my tires with air… here’s a physics question for you… what happens when you fill your tires to pressure in the cold, and then it gets hot out? Read on to find out] In the early afternoon after a slow, wet start to the day, we stopped in Quasquaton as the sun finally broke through the clouds. We lay our sopping wet jackets, socks, and shoes and the already warm and dry pavement and basked in the warmth of the hot Iowa sun for a couple minutes. We wandered the crowds of the small town, found some grub, and of course, found the dance party.

RAGBRAI has still not ceased to amaze us in regards to dance parties. Something about cyclists and spandex brings out the uncontrollable desire to dance. And so, team party pants once again hit the dance floor. We heard our song, teamed up with the Clif bar team, and shook away all memories of being cold and wet by getting hot and sweaty on the dance floor (of grass) behind Wolfy’s bar in Quasqueton, IA.

A couple of hours later, we decide it’s probably best to make our way the the final 15 miles to Manchester. After our bikes had baked in the sun for a couple of hours, I returned to my bike to find a flat. [The answer to previous physics question]. Some of our newly teamed up group of clif bar team riders were ahead, so Erin sped off to tell them we would catch up. While I’m perfectly capable to change a tire, I won’t necessarily brush off an offer of help from someone who looks, well, more capable. Clif bar boy proved to be a master tire changer, and we were back on a road in under two minutes.

We approached the rest of the group that was lingering ahead slowly on the road. Then, something bad happened. As I came up on a cyclist ahead of me he turned to look behind him and swerved to the right, and in do so cut into my line. Though, my line was on his right side, and is cyclist etiquette one passes on the left. So, I guess that’s what you call an accident– an accident that resulted in a crash. Though the actual crash was a blur to me, as far as I can tell from my bike and body, the first thing to hit the pavement was my front right handle bar, followed by my right shoulder. This, being my first real bike crash, put me more in a state of shock than anything else. I managed to remove my helmet and camelbak (which both definitely served in protecting my body) and I remember my right shoulder feeling as though were just hanging there immobilized. I did not lose consciousness, nor hit my head or neck, but because the SAG vans were too far ahead on the route, an ambulance was called first. I laid on the side of the road with Erin and Julia nearby to calm me down and direct bike traffic around the accident. My spirits weren’t totally shot though. As I laid on the ground, writhing in pain and majorly bummed out because I knew this meant the end of my RAGBRAI ride, I let out my new favorite debbie-downer waa-waa derivative: “Konnichi-WAAAAAAA”.

Though my sense of time is totally skewed, the ambulance eventually showed up. Because the shoulder is close to the neck/head, they took precaution and strapped me to the board with neck support. Julia managed to find an additional truck to stow our bikes and the three of us made our way to the ER in Independence, IA.

A few hours later, after two doses of morphine, my x-rays showed that nothing was broken. They told me it was likely a ligament or tendon injury of the shoulder joint– something I should see an orthopedic doc about when the swelling went down. I was given a sling and a prescription for some strong pain killers and we found a ride from one of the the ambulance drivers (though in a truck this time) into Manchester.

By this time it was late, and there were no hotel rooms available in Manchester (even though we would have no way to getting to it with all our stuff). The idea of pitching our tent in the dark, to then have to crawl into it and sleep on the ground was less than appealing to me, but we found a somewhat better alternative by sleeping in the community center in a room that was reserved for another cycling team. The team didn’t seem to care much that we were there, and understood when they saw my injury, so we got to sleep inside in the air conditioning with easy access to real bathroom. Julia and Erin did their bests to make me comfortable in a nest of sleeping pads and bags for me and propped my arm up under a duffel bag. With the help of prescription pain killers, I fell asleep quickly and in little pain.

What a day. Extreme rain and cold, extreme fun and sun, extreme pain and fear. After a scary accident, I could not be more thankful to have had Erin and Julia by my side. They managed to keep me calm and actually crack a few laughs in a time that pretty much sucked otherwise. (Personal favorite from Erin: “On a scale of one to David Hasselhoff, how FUN is morphine right now???”)

Update on shoulder (and bike) to follow…

day five: a lazy day with lazy cows

2010 August 17
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7.29.2010: charles city, ia to waterloo, ia (82 miles… but not really. more like 50).

This was an early morning… for us at least. We knew we wanted to meet up with Julia’s friend Jim and his posse of fathers and daughters/sons and a mom. One of the riders in their group has family that owns a dairy farm that was just 12 miles off the main route. We were invited to join them on the farm for breakfast (via a ride in a cattle truck), so that meant riding 20 miles by 9 am. And let me remind you, by 9 am we were usually lucky to be on our bikes at all.  Determined, we got our early(-ish) start, which actually proved to be a slow-moving endeavor. The 7:30 departure time seemed like a popular choice as the roads were probably the most congested with cyclists we had seen yet. About 10 miles in, the bikes were brought to a complete stop because there was an accident ahead. We couldn’t see much, as we were stopped at least 50 yards behind the accident, but we knew it had to be serious if the entire stream of cyclists were halted. The injured cyclist was taken away in an ambulance and evacuated via helicopter in the neighboring field. [We later found out that the cyclist, Stephen Briggs (age 68 of Waverly, IA, riding with the No-Name Bike Club Team), suffered a head injury and passed away the next day. His daughter said: “I had to stop and realize that if he had to go, he went doing something he absolutely loved to do. One minute he was riding his bike, the next he went to heaven.”  We learned the Stephen was a huge fan of RAGBRAI and had participated either in part or full in 10 RAGBRAIs. The full story is here. Our deep condolences go out to his family, friends, and team.] Cyclists began to trickle through the accident site and we proceeded on our way again. It was a somber ride for the next 10 miles. Not only among the three of us– it seemed as though the entire group of cyclists (thousands probably) that were held up close behind the accident could sense the severity of it, and we pedaled away together slowly and silently.

Despite the bike traffic and the accident, we made it the 20 miles to Clarksville by 9 to meet up with the group. When the group was all gathered we loaded bike and bodies on to large cattle truck and made our way to the farm. We toured the farm and took lots of pictures of the cows.

We happily ate a meal of bagels, eggs, bacon, fruit, and veggies on the shady porch of the farmhouse. After a good rest and sampling some chocolate milk that came from the farm, we reloaded onto the cattle truck and got a ride back into town… only to a town farther down the route. As we had spent a couple of ours on the farm, we were thankful to be dropped off in Dike, cutting off 30 miles of the route leaving us with only 30 to go. Thank you to ours hosts at the Horst Family Farm!!!

The rest of the day was easy going and we didn’t stop much in the next 30 miles (except to take a picture with a tractor… John Deere is from Iowa, FYI.) We ended our day of riding in Waterloo and found our campsite awkwardly placed on the outskirts of town in a mowed field in between a water park and a casino. We set up camp and promptly made our way into town via shuttle in search of grub. We settled on a Mexican restaurant, but soon came to regret that decision as the food took almost an hour and a half and the margaritas were weird and weak. As least we could nosh down on chips and salsa while we waited and we found a candy vending machine that sold fuzzy mustaches (which will make their appearances later).

We returned to camp and soon passed out in our tent– rain fly set up because we heard the rain was coming.

day four: so we were dubbed “team party pants”

2010 August 5
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7.28.2010: clear lake, ia to charles city, ia (52 miles)

When we awoke in Clear Lake we weren’t quite sure where we were. What are these soft mattresses we are laying on? This cool air blowing down on us? Not the 5am sound of tent poles being folded of the early rising cyclists nor the endless slamming of port-o-potty (called kybos in iowa, who knew?) doors, or the warm dampess of our tent (yummy, right?). We were in fact still in the comforts of the Schurtz family cottage at the Outting Club. We definitley got the best night of sleep thus far on the trip, but knew what lay ahead in our day so we said our thank yous and goodbyes and returned to drop off our stuff at the baggage truck.

Long story somewhat short, our bags were left outside for the night while we stayed at the Outting Club and proceeded to get sopping wet during an overnight rain storm (but we didn’t!). We didn’t want to ride from the camp ground with our large duffles precariously balanced on our bikes so we consolidated and just took overnight goods and left our lonely packs under the baggage truck, which of course was moved on us at some point in the night. The thunder and lightning momentarily woke me up in the middle of the night and I remember thinking “oh no! the bags!” but quickly fell back into the comforts of the cozy bed and airconditioning. In the morning we returned and loaded the much heavier soggy bags back onto the truck and went on our merry way… to breakfast!

It was our brilliant idea to avoid the long lines of the first breakfast stops by eating in town. We went to a diner that was full of cyclist who looked to be happily enjoying their meals. While the food did take forever (leading to extended conversations on how small iowan businesses can rake in the BIG bucks with a few simples things— streamline the menu, set up an assembly line, and work your ass off, but that’s another story), it was delicious. With full bellies, we finally began our day.

We powered through the first chunk of the morning and took our first long stop at an epic roadside oasis– dj, beer, sweet corn, and giant trapeze into a swimming hole (they were charging 5$ a pop for entrance into the trapeze– now they mean business). We opted out of the trapeze, forseeing only bellyflops in our futures, had a beer, danced to our song of the trip (actually, perhaps our anthem: taio cruz “dynomite”), ate some sweet corn, met some Elvises (Elvi?), and continued on. [Side note– we later learned this party got shut down by the PO-lice because of some uncontrollable naked cyclist-trapeze party. RAGBRAI=woodstock on wheels.]

Another twenty or so miles of corn and soy beans and pigs later, we found ourselves in rockford for a lunch break. As we park our bikes we hear nothing other than ‘”dynomite” blasting from the bud light party bus dj’s. Without hesitation, we run– crossing bike traffic and getting dirty looks, but we made it in probably under 20 seconds and had a good portion of the song left to rock out too. Let’s just say, lunch got postponed as we proceeded to rock the midday dance floor with our crazy moves. Julia did a solo. There was an electric slide and some country version of an electric slide that involved grabbing your bum and doing a shuffle that Julia quickly mastered (anyone know the name of the song??). This may or may not have been the epic dance party where we were named “team party pants” or “team 80’s pants” (because of our awesome moves and awesome shorts) and pretty much written down in RAGBRAI history as those three girls who know how to have a dance party. After approximately 2.5 hours of dancing in the hot midday sun, we were totally exhausted. I’m pretty sure we burned more calories dancing than we did in the previous 35 miles of riding. We downed some burritos, clif bar shot blocks, and LOTS of water, and hit the road one more time. Thank goodness we were just 15 miles of Charles City.

We barely and finally made it to the Charles City camping ground which happened to be at the Charles City high school that evening. We unloaded our sopping wet bags and laid everything out in the sunshine to dry. The important stuff did (sleeping bags and thermarests), while other heavier cotton articles stayed wet– all week, adding to the general funk of our packs and selves. We found showers in the highschool (5$ a pop- again, they mean business) and made our way to the downtown for some grub– frybread tacos (think a funnel cake, but solid, covered with taco fixing or with powdered sugar and honey… mmm calories).

We stopped by the big downtown party, but after an exhausting day of sun and dancing (oh, and riding 50 some miles), we didn’t linger that much longer in the downtown area and soon retreated to our camp and hit the sack. Goodnight Charles City!

day three: heat and sun, corn and walking tacos.

2010 August 3

2010.07.27 algona, IA to clear lake, IA (60 miles)

after our 80 mile day, we were thankful to be greeted with a shorter, 60 mile day (then later were super thankful, since it was the hottest day).  we woke up in the small, cramped campground of algona, across from some texans who offered us morning vodka shots (julia may or may not have accepted).  within about 15 miles, we stopped for morning breakfast sandwiches, which only took 45 minutes in line in wesley, IA (the town consisted of a 3-block-long street, a few homes and 1 church… duh).  we continued on, drinking plenty of water, and applying mucho sunscreen (which we later learned didn’t really stick that well since we were sweating non-stop).  we had a snackeroo of corn (2 ears each) on the side of the road, sold by some nice, “corn-fed”, adorable iowa farm boys…. literally, the tastiest corn any of us had ever consumed.  gotta love the midwest.

we stopped in garner, IA for lunch, and were once again met with the chaos of a small town with a big group of hungry, overheated cyclists.  instead of paying 5$ for a slice of pizza outside, we struck gold with the air-conditioned pizza buffet, where we got VEGETABLES and pizza and endless fountain soda.  thats where we found the one public library, where we could blog about the first two days.  this is also where we heard about the rumored “shortcut” that would cut off the last 10 miles of the day.  well, of course, we investigated, and found ourselves celebrating that we only had 10 miles left in our day.

our shortcut was quite pleasant because the density of riders was cut significantly, and we rolled by ventura, IA, which had an impromptu bar party, and we found ourselves sitting on the breezy, beautiful “clear lake”, with man cans and coozies.  nice way to spend an afternoon.

last push for a few miles around the lake, and then we eventually made our way to the “outing club”, a 150 year old mansion-esque lodge, which hosts numerous families and their condos, right along the lake.  we met cheryl and steve schurtz, who graciously hosted our smelly, sunburnt bodies for the evening.  took a dip in the lake, lounged on the porch, and made our way to the clear lake celebrations, which included fireworks, ice cream, dance parties, and “walking tacos” (if you havent experienced a walking taco, you obviously havent been to a little league baseball game in the midwest… nacho cheese doritos bag, cut open, with taco meat, lettuce, salsa, cheese and sour cream… in the bag…. yuuuuum).

we slept well in our only bed of the week.  thank you, schurtz family and clear lake, IA!

day two: “rumble in the grundle”

2010 July 27
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7.26.2010: Storm Lake, IA to Algona, IA (79 miles)

day two took us from Storm Lake to Algona– a whopping 80 miles that we were not prepared for. but this is RAGBRAI and we’re having fun. As expected, we dropped our bags off at the truck 10 minutes before it left and very sluggishly got ourselves on the road. luckily the route was a lot flatter than the previous day, and was broken down into small chunks with breaks in every small town (and i mean SMALL town) we pass through, and in true RAGBRAI fashion– a party in every town. A dance party, beer, dj’s and bands, bloody marys, slip and slides, and dozens of vendors selling a variety of artery clogging deliciousness.

on our second day erin rocked an amazing blue velvet tutu getup that definitely got a ton of compliments. though it’s kind of hard to top our matching neon bike shorts though for which we have become recognized by many for.

the scenery is actually quite picturesque. yes, lots of farms, lots of corn. one things we’ve come to hate: rumble strips before stop signs. Cyclists are actually quite great at giving universal signals or shouting– slowing, turning, stopping, car-up, car-back, rider-up, etc. But despite warning, sometimes you just can’t make it over to the other side of the road in time to avoid the rumble strip. And, with out delving too much into the details, a rumble under your bike doesn’t feel so great after 6 hours in the saddle. It has been coined the rumble in the grundle. you get the idea.

Our day ending in Algona, another charming small town that put on a party for the riders (interesting side note: after asking some Iowans about how much money this ride brings into small towns, we were told that overnight towns make several MILLION dollars having 25,000+ riders spend the night, eat, and drink in the town). We danced to a 70’s cover band, “rehydrated” ourselves with beer, and passed out a semi-reasonable hour. If only the gunners camped around us didn’t get up at 5am to start their next day ride. What’s the rush?

[3g is nonexistent here apparently. we apologize for the lack of posting. we found a library (oh, trusty libraries) but who knows when the next accessible one will be. we promise and epic picture slide show upon our return when we can actually plug our cameras in. ]