Thousands of cyclists (fourteen to twenty thousand) gather in Iowa each year to ride across the state from west to east (Missouri River to Mississippi River). This event, sponsored by the DesMoines Register, is is called RAGBRAI--The Register's Annual Great Ride Across Iowa. In 2007 I and my family made that trip across Iowa with a team of eight people.
RAGBRAI takes 8 days aand 8 nights and participants camp out at a major town or city along the route. At most town there is an abundance of food and/or entertainment, including recoded music, an Elvis facsimile, home-baked pies, root-beer floats, and liquid refreshments. Our trip this year include seeing Lance Armstrong and his team participate for a couple of days. I remember that when that group passed us (and they always passed us!), you could hear the sound of a quiet wind as their 30/mile+ group’s wheels whipped the air.
One of the challenges of the ride was to find your target campsite. What happens is that a designated team-member chooses not to ride but rather is paid to set up and take down the tents. Once he packs everything up and arrives at the next town, he finds a site that meets our specifications—showers and toilets close by, shade, etc. Then we can call him to get the name of our location (a park, a building, whatever). But he cannot really give us exact directions, because he doesn’t know where we will be arriving in that town.
People often congratulate me on completing such a long trip, but the fact is that I actually rode for 80% of the distance—though that was an accomplishment in itself. The remainder of the trip I was occasionally driving our car to the next town; each from the team shares that responsibility.
At the end of the trip, rather than being tired, we all actually feel more fit than we’d ever been before.
Our next effort will be to ride the MS-150 in April, 2008. This involves biking about 150 miles (from Houston to Austin) for the benefit of Muscular Sclerosis victims.