So Jeff and I have been stationary for the most part for about 6 weeks now. We planned on leaving today to head to Elkhart to pick up our newly remodeled/repaired RV from MasterTech RV. But considering she is still without a roof, our plans are on hold.
We’ve been told that our AC’s will be installed later this week, so the roof should be completed by then. Unfortunately, we’ve been told “the new roof will be on by the end of the week”, every week since May. So….
Our first trip was to participate in RAGBRAI, the bike ride across Iowa. This would be the 3rd year for us. It is a 7 day ride, riding 50-100 miles each day. There are destination towns on the course that host approximately 20,000-30,000 cyclists each night, with entertainment and food vendors. These are very small towns with populations under 5,000, so you can imagine the spectacle and economic boost that occurs from that many people. After the infestation of locusts devours the little overnight town, we all move on to the next.
RAGBRAI is on two lane county roads that are closed to the general vehicle traffic. But if a car does manage to make its way onto the course it is quickly swallowed up by thousands of bikes that have just been waiting for an opportunity like this to torment an unsuspecting motorist. It’s a role reversal for us cyclists who get flipped off, run off the road and things thrown at us by a motorist on a regular basis. Now, it’s our turn! Whoaaaaa!
RAGBRAI is a sight to see for sure with riders, teams and families wearing costumes and decorated helmets. I’ve had the experience of riding next to a friend and quickly losing them in the crowd by looking away for a split second. Bright colored bike attire and distinctive helmet gear make it a bit easier to find your party. But I’ve lost my group very easily before only to find them again at our designated campsite.
One of the fan favorites on the routes each day is Mr. Pork Chop. Look for the pink school bus selling inch thick slabs of pork chops cooked over charcoal and dried out corn cobs. You don’t really “see” Mr. Pork Chop as much as you “smell” Mr. Pork Chop. Oh that sweet grilled aroma of charred pig hot off the grill. I’m not going to lie…I was a vegetarian until I met Mr. Pork Chop…seriously…a VEGETARIAN! I fell off the vegetable wagon hard when I met him and I haven’t looked back.
To make my self-inflicted dietary restrictions worse for ware and my RAGBRAI food confessions complete, I also have eaten some of the best homemade ice cream and Amish pie I have ever tasted. It’s the only place you can ride your bike 500 miles over a week and gain weight at the same time.
Beyond food there are also front yard beer gardens for those wanting to try intoxicated cycling amongst friends. Or how about a 200 foot long homemade slip and slide and cow pond skinny dipping to cool you off.
Need a bathroom? Just pull over at a corn stalk relief stations wherever the urge hits you. Road kill? Road kill is shown it’s due respect for it’s disastrous attempt to get from one side of the road to the other by being adorned with Mardi Gras beads…God rest his furry soul.
Campgrounds are plentiful in Iowa, most of them being County or City owned. At $15 a night for water and electric the price can’t be beat for some great sites. But when you throw RAGBRAI into the mix, camping accommodations are a challenge. Most of campgrounds have first come first serve sites available in addition to reservable sites. Since I typically don’t make reservations I leave each overnight town by 7AM in order to snag an available campsite around the next town.
This year the route has posed a bit of a challenge, as the overnight towns do not have many camping options nearby. Not to worry though. This is one time a year when overnight parking on random streets, parking lots, front yards and driveways is perfectly acceptable.
RAGBRAI is scheduled to start July 18 and I am cautiously optimistic that we will make the first few days of the ride. Frankly, I’m ok with that since I usually drive the RV while Jeff rides his bike. With a new RV and going from a 21’ travel trailer to a 32’ fifth wheel, there is going to be a learning curve for me to hook, unhook and back up the Domani (while remembering to put the tailgate down…oh boy!). I would like to get supervised practice in before taking her out on my own.
Time will tell if we will make it to Iowa to see some of our countries most beautiful rolling farm land.
Here’s to hoping that I don’t back into a power pole, crush the tailgate or take out a picnic table before we get there!