I approach the last day’s ride with excitement, anticipation and sadness. I’m excited because I have peddled six days, and even though some of the hills have been very taxing, I enjoyed the challenge, met wonderful riders and had many days of beautiful scenery. This last day is like the others around 75-80 miles and hilly. Word is that many of the hills are steeper than any experienced thus far. Therefore, my elation is some what dulled by thought of cramps, exhaustion and of course mechanical problems. Not only have I enjoyed the road bike experience as a newbie, I participated in a world class event that many riders only hope to do someday! And I did the ride with my brother Gary and brother in law, Nick. So like any fun, challenging event coming to an end, there is usually melancholy.
I have physically worked out regularly all of my life, so even though I am not a road bike rider, I always felt like I could ride 80 or even 100 miles at one time. What worried me is riding 75 miles for several consecutive days. Would my body have time to recover to ride day after day? I didn’t know for sure, but I hoped my internal fortitude would kick in and prevail. Like I said earlier, I was surprised that after a long days ride, a few cold beers, dinner and live music along with a good nights sleep gave me the rejuvenation needed to ride again the following days.
Gary and I started together this last day, but I still had visions of very steep hills later in the route, so I was conserving energy earlier in the ride than planned. I was going at a comfortable speed for me, but Gary wanted to ride faster, so instead of changing my cadence, I told him to go on that we could hook up later. He peddled on and met Nick shortly after leaving me. I kept up a comfortable pace and called them as I passed through the second town of the day, Lamont. At this point we were about 22 miles into the last day’s ride. I discovered upon calling that I was only a few miles behind them, so I had a jolt of energy and picked up my pace! I really enjoyed the scenery the last day because the hills were getting steeper, but the vistas were gorgeous!!
The very steep hills kicked in about 24 miles from the town of Guttenberg, the final destination. Many riders got off their bikes and walked, but I was determined to tough it out and stay on the bike!! The highway was constructed with huge slabs of concrete approximately 50×50 feet. I conquered the hills by peddling over one slab at a time and trying not to look up at he top of the hill, which looked at times like Everest! On one of the last hills when myself and all of the riders around me were struggling to keep peddling, the sound of a trumpet echoed down from somewhere near the top! The trumpet was playing inspiring, heart pumping music to keep us going, and it worked! It helped us find the the hidden fortitude to conquer this last steep hill. As I rounded the top I saw the trumpet play on the side of the road playing toward those still struggling to stay on their bikes. This was the same person who played revei
This adventure would not have been possible if brother Gary didn’t sign us up because not being a bike rider I would have not considered RAGBRAI as something we could do together. Nick was also a much needed person in the success of our trio. He was not only the most experienced rider, he offered advice on how to overcome certain riding issues. Nick was also the mechanic that kept gears working and flats fixed. I knew he was a serious mechanic when he donned latex gloves to keep his hands clean!!
This blog was initially named Cycling vs Golf, so I guess as I close I should compare the two. I have played golf for many years and absolutely love the enjoyment and challenges that each round presents. I like riding a road bike but never liked sharing the road with automobiles. I always felt like I needed to be further into the shoulder area where all sorts of bad things accumulate that can cause you to wreck. Donna and I have been members of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club for several years. We attended a few meetings but rarely did any Mountain biking. RAGBRAI rekindled a desire to mountain bike. So will road riding cut into precious golf time? Probably not. Will mountain biking edge into the realm of sacred golf? Very probable!
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