Riding RAGBRAI
Day Three - Jefferson to Ames
Tuesday, July 22nd
57 miles; 1,377 feet of climbing
The Spirit of RAGBRAI came alive on
the road from Jefferson to Ames.
With most of the team riding the
Century Loop on Monday, we were
planning to sleep a little later and
enjoy a much shorter ride on
Tuesday. Our plan was to make a lot
of stops and enjoy "RAGBRAI'ing", a
term used to describe the Spirit of
RAGBRAI. Basically, it means
partying as much or more than riding,
taking in the local flavor of all the
towns on the route, and generally
having a good 'ole time. Some riders
"RAGBRAI'ed" the whole 470 miles.
Others just liked to ride. For most
of the week Team Joyride was
somewhere in the middle, but on
Tuesday we were RAGBRAI'ing the
whole way. And why not? The
weather was perfect and the towns
all did a great job of entertaining us.

Our first stop was Grand Junction
and a
pancake breakfast served by
the local fire protection district,
because firemen make the best
pancakes (it's a fact, I don't know
why). From there, I stopped in Dana
to visit an old client from my St.
Louis banking days. I hadn't talked
to Mark Juhl, president of
Juhl
Feed, for several years, and it was
nice to reconnect while RAGBRAI
passed through this town of less than
100 inhabitants.

Most of Team Joyride regrouped
between Dana and Ogden, where we
enjoyed our first real tailwind of the
trip coming into Ogden from the
north. The road was downhill all the
way into town, which appealed
particularly to Greg Sierra.
Greg has
been a consistent member of Team
Darren Van't Hof, taking care of business.
A parking garage becomes a Party
Garage in Boone.
Two tractors plus one steel cable
stretched between them equals a bike rack.
Joyride over the years and was one of the key organizers of the 2008
team. Prior to joining the accounting instruction staff at Southern
Illinois University - Edwardsville, Greg worked for the Federal Reserve
Bank. Several years ago he recruited fellow Fed man Art Lindo to Team
Joyride. When riding downhill, Greg's pace is nearly impossible to
match. He pedals hard and enjoys some natural "ballast" that gives him
momentum I just can't touch. On this last stretch of road to Ogden,
Greg was in roadie heaven.

Whenever RAGBRAI passes through an Iowa town, its residents stop
what they're doing (mostly because they have to) and come out to see
the action. As we entered the towns, we were first
welcomed by many,
then barraged with solicitations from everyone selling anything. Kids,
teenagers, adults, and grandmothers
let us know exactly where we could
find food, beverages and merchandise. Most towns became a traffic jam
of bicycles as RAGBRAI'ers swarmed main street in search of pie
(speaking for yours truly, of course). We were thanked by residents on
our way out of town. Good people, those Iowans.

Boone was the final town before our overnight stop in Ames. These "last
towns" are unofficially designated as Party Towns on the RAGBRAI
route. Boone lived up to its party expectations, with multiple beer
gardens. But to get there, we first had to scale the longest hill of the
week: a 300-foot, mile-long climb out of the Des Moines River valley.
It was a tough climb for a flatlander. Matt Kavan had the advantage of
living in San Diego up until early 2008, which afforded him the ability to
ride year round and train for these kind of hills. No one was surprised
to see him first to the top. At the crest of the hill, one of the teams
taunted riders with "Free beer for quitters!" From what I could tell, the
beer may have been free, but the team served it to the quitters by
pouring it over their heads.

We spent some quality time in the Miller beer tent watching
grown men
get spanked by the Miller Girls, who I'd characterize as a poor man's
Bud Girls. On the way to Ames, we stopped at Beekman's roadside stand
for some homemade raspberry ice cream, strategically placed at the top
of a hill. The
roadside vendors long ago figured out the most important
marketing aspect of RAGBRAI - it's all about location. Nobody stops
for a break at the bottom of a hill.

Larry and I rode into Ames together on a route that took us through
the campus of Iowa State University. Frat boys had slip-n-slides set up
in their front yards, and one of them handed me a bicep-mounted iPod
carrier with a Barilla pasta logo as I pedaled by. I have no idea why I
received this gift (I don't even own an iPod) but I thanked the boys and
dreamed of a real-life Old School fraternity. We continued on past the
ISU stadium, where the legendary band Styx was to perform that night.
Contrary to popular rumor, Styx is not dead...yet. Neither is Lance
Armstrong, who made a cameo appearance that night.

Our host for the night, whose name I can't remember, offered up his
shower and washer/dryer so we could do some laundry. The next
morning, he brought us muffins. Like I said, good people in Iowa.
Marlene took charge of the laundry and had our dirty clothes washed,
dried and folded in no time. She was our mom during the week. Each
day we'd arrive at our host's house with the
RV parked and set up,
beverages in the refrigerator, beer on ice in the cooler, snacks laid out
on the table, and chairs lined up in a shady spot. Marlene is a
grandmother of about 20, give or take, and did her first RAGBRAI last
year. She says she's retired, but from the sound of it, she's not
exactly sitting around the house. Marlene's hometown, Rock Rapids, has
been a starting point for RAGBRAI several times over the years, and
she's been an active participant in the community's planning and
organization. This was a key advantage in finding housing for the towns
that didn't have us set up with host families. Our sweet location in
Tama/Toledo the following night was only because of her persistence
during the week. Marlene was awesome.

For dinner, our host in Ames recommended a pizza joint downtown, so
we all piled into the RV since we were a couple miles away and didn't
feel like riding our bikes. Upon arrival, the restaurant was without air
conditioning. Inside temperature: 101 degrees. They suggested the bar
upstairs, where we could eat the pizza and have some beers. Larry
staked out a spot in the upstairs bar, which promptly introduced its
musical entertainment. Here's a word of advice: if a band's first words
of introduction are "
We'd like to apologize to anyone expecting a quiet
evening
", get the hell out. Immediately. I wanted to unplug their amps
and toss them out the 2nd story window. I felt...old. We took the pizza
back to the house and ate it there.

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