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Cycling vs Golf

I recently finished an adventure that I would have never started had it not been for my brother. My brother Gary called me in April and said, “Carl, I’ve signed us up for an event.” Now over the years we have done some pretty cool things like spelunking caves in east Tennessee, riding motorcycles to the Florida Keys, Martha’s Vineyard, Daytona Beach and Sturgis, but this was totally different. He said, we’re doing RAGBRAI. I said whats a RAGBRAI and he said, a bike ride across Iowa. Not a motorcycle, but peddle power. I said this could be a problem since the only bike I have is very cheap and I have not been on it in several years. I really don’t like cycling, but only bought the bike to cross train. He said well, it’s done, so man up. Having a personality that “knows” I can do anything, I said, OK, I’ll be ready. As I looked into reliable road bikes I soon discovered that they are very expensive. I didn’t want to buy a bike that I would only be using for one event. So I put feelers out to see if I could borrow one. I knew I needed to get in shape for this event, so after three weeks I was getting concerned that I would have to buy a bike for this ride. I took spinning classes at the gym and did my usual work out that includes leg exercises so I didn’t feel totally unprepared, but knew I needed time in the saddle. Fate stepped in one evening while downtown. We were at our favorite watering hole when joined by a friend, Rob Kurtz, I was talking about RAGBRAI and he said, yea, I’ve heard about that ride, it’s like Mardi Gras on wheels! He asked if I was ready, and I told him I had been taking spinning classes but had one small problem, I didn’t have a bike. Rob said, not a problem, you can use mine. What a coup!! I didn’t even know he rode a bike! So now that I a have a bike, I need gear. I need a helmet, gloves, shoes with cleats cause that’s the cool shoes they wear in Tour de France,and the only shoes that will work with Rob’s bike peddles. I also need jerseys and shorts with a padded bottom. Remember, this all for one event! Once I had the bike and was getting used to changing gears in the neighborhood I started to like cycling! The new problem was where could I ride longer distances so I get the true feel of the bike and gears. The answer was the Cherokee Blvd in Knoxville. The blvd is a favorite running/riding venue that I have used a training venue for many years. The loop around the blvd is 5 miles but hilly, so your changing gears constantly. I also rode on the green ways for different scenery. It was now the first part of July and I only had a few days left since the bike had to be shipped by July 10th to be at Rock Valley, Iowa on July 19th for the early morning start on the 20th.
I flew into Omaha, NE a few days early so I could visit with friends. Gary and Nick arrived two days later, then we were shuttled to Rock Valley by one of my friends who also planned to ride in the event, just not all seven days.
With 25K registered participants it was quite chaotic at registration. We got through unscathed, had a beer then turned in for the evening about 10;00. No one stays up late in tent city when we all know reveille will be blaring at 6:00am since all luggage must be on the truck by 7:00.
We hit the road at 6:30 with thousands of cyclist, what a gathering!! Gary Nick and I were bunched together with cycles around us as far as the eye could see! Approximately 3 miles into the first 80 mile day, Gary’s gears were not working. We pull off the road to examine his bike only to discover he had a broken derailleur. Nick can and did fix many of our mechanical problems during the week, but a broken derailleur needs to be replaced. We called mechanical support that is part of our paid package, but they could not pick Gary up for over 4 hours. So Gary started walking back to the campground to seek help, while thousands of bikes were going in the opposite direction. He said later now he know for certain how appropriate the phrase is, swimming against the current! While Gary headed back to the campground, Nick and I headed to Okoboji, the first night’s destination. Signed up to ride with my brother and within 3 miles we were already going in different directions!! Stay tuned……..