RAGBRAI Week, Every Week

Every week is like a RAGBRAI week since we have been here in Iowa.  In previous years, I would have to spend 51 weeks a year waiting for that one special week of RAGBRAI.  Camping, bike riding, fighting heat and headwinds, encountering friendly Iowans, seeing beautiful countryside, more bike riding–all of what I love about RAGBRAI has been part of our days here.

Training rides in Virginia would get tiresome after while because we would do the same routes and get the miles over as quickly as possible.  Here we get to explore routes that are new to us.  Some of the rides have been with the bike club and some were mapped out for us by Mike, who has ridden just about every route there is to ride around Iowa City.  And then if we don’t feel like doing a bike ride there is also the fun of spending time with the grandkids.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Bridge over Cedar River on ride to town of Sutliff.

Mike met us one day at our campsite and joined us for a ride to Cedar Rapids.

Lunch stop at Blue Toad on bike ride to Cedar Rapids.

Bridge over Iowa River in Cedar Rapids.

North Shore Bike Trail near campground at Lake Macbride.

Lee tried to converse with this Iowan but didn’t get much response.

First Day of Summer

Today is the first day of summer and there’s no doubt that it is summer here in Iowa.  Since we arrived Monday the temperatures have remained in the 90’s with the humidity almost as high.  Having a gusty wind blowing from the south has made it seem even hotter.  There’s a possibility of some thundershowers tonight in advance of a cooler weather front.  Except for the fact that we are camping out, it would be a relief to see some rain.

Our four days of bike riding last week on the Katy trail in Missouri were good preparation for the heat and headwinds here in Iowa.  Being on a rails-to-trails bike path meant that we didn’t get to experience any hill climbs but, in a way, that can make the riding more difficult.  It’s always a struggle when you have to stretch your legs and lungs to pedal up a steep hill, but then there’s the reward of zipping downhill.  On the flat stretches of the Katy trail it can get quite tiring to just keep pushing and pushing at the same steady pace as you slowly pass the miles of the same cornfields, wheat fields and river bluffs that were visible the hours before and the days before.

Somewhere along the Katy Trail in Missouri
Bluffs along Katy Trail
Missouri River visible from Katy Trail
Remains of old clay-tile grain elevator, all that’s left of the town of Pearsons along the Katy Trail
The only tunnel on the Katy Trail, just outside Rocheport

Monday evening we arrived in Iowa City, where we are camping at Kent Park. I was happy to see family and excited to get back on my road bike that had been here in Iowa City since the end of last summer’s RAGBRAI. Tuesday morning the local Bicyclists of Iowa City bike club had a 30-mile ride scheduled, a perfect opportunity to take the bike out for a spin. Close to 20 riders showed up and it was good riding, as well as good socializing. We fought some strong headwinds but the ride leader had done a good job of planning so that the way back on the loop we had the winds behind us. We got to practice pedaling up a few Iowa hills, as well. And then there was the beauty of the Iowa countryside and the opportunity to wave at some Amish children peering over the fence of their yard watching us ride by.  We also encountered an Amish buggy on one of the roadways.

Thrilled to be riding the road bike again
Time at the park with the grandkidsEnjoying a nature walk in an Iowa City park

RAGBRAI is several weeks away and we will continue our training rides here and our visits with family.  Traveling is fun but it’s also nice to know that we can stay in one place for a bit and not have to drive miles and miles in the car.