The traditional way to mark the end of the ride across Iowa is to dip your bike tire into the Mississippi River at the ending town.  Today I joined the crowd of bicyclists pushing their bikes towards the dip site in Clinton, Iowa, just so Lee could take a picture showing I was actually there.  All the hard work of the week pedaling from Sioux Center on the Missouri River to Clinton on the Mississippi River was finally done so it didn’t seem that important whether I actually got the bike tire in the water or not.

As always, I had a wonderful time on the ride.  This marks the tenth year I’ve done RAGBRAI and I think it was the best year ever.  I may have complained about the heat and headwinds and hills but that’s all part of the experience.  When you’ve made it to the end town you tend to forget how discouraged you felt during those long stretches of pedaling when it felt like you were never going to make it to the end of the day.

We are now back in Iowa City, staying at Mike’s house for the weekend.  We have to take the car to a mechanic Monday for some minor repairs.  By Tuesday or Wednesday we plan to be on our way to Ohio to begin another round of visiting friends and family and exploring new and old places.

Such an Easy Ride

It was such an easy ride today that I took some extra time in Vinton to try my hand at dairy production the old-fashioned way.  Sande would be proud of me.  For those of you who remember my June 8 post about the extraordinary job that my sister, Sande, does on her Wyoming ranch you would understand why I couldn’t pass up this photo op.

We had lots of wind again but 90% of the time it was either a tailwind or blowing sideways.  It was so wonderful that I didn’t mind the fact that there quite a few hills.  Most of the hills were the roller coaster kind that aren’t that long and that are fun to descend.  Also, that kind of terrain in Iowa means the ride is scenic with views of valleys and ridges blanketed with beautiful farmland.

I didn’t hear any statistics on amount of rainfall last night in Marshalltown, but it definitely wasn’t enough to break the drought.  It did thunder and lightning and a severe storm warning was issued.  We were already in our tent, but talked to some riders today who said people who had gone downtown on the shuttle were told the shuttles wouldn’t take them back to camp until the storm threat passed.  A group in our campground this afternoon was making repairs to their tent and drying out their clothes in the sun.  They said when the shuttle finally got them back to camp they discovered the wind had blown over their tent.

Even if the nights camping on RAGBRAI don’t have storms there are other hazards to watch out for.  Have you ever experienced the frustration of leaving your car in a parking lot while you shop and then when you come out of the store you can’t figure out where you left it?  That frustration can’t compare to what a fellow camper experienced last night.  At 3:30 in the morning Lee heard me getting out of the tent to go to the bathroom and asked if he could walk with me since he’d forgotten his flashlight.  When we exited the tent a panic-stricken woman saw our light and told us her sad story.  She had gone to the restroom but then had gotten disoriented in the dark and couldn’t find her tent.  We stumbled around with her awhile with no success and finally left her back at the restroom where she started so she could try to retrace her steps.  It’s awful what an unorganized, huge jumble of tents fills a RAGBRAI campground.  When the restrooms are far away like they were last night I always dread those middle of the night restroom visits.  I could end up wandering around until daylight lost and unable to find my tent.

Here in Cedar Rapids we have a much nicer camping spot.  The restrooms are close and the skies are clear.  It should be a hazard-free night.  I’ll need a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow is the day with the most hills on this year’s ride.