It's about time I write about the wonders of Ragbrai. As the name implies, Ragbrai is a great, seven day ride across the state of Iowa. It is, in every sense, a "party on wheels". Every year, on the second to last or last Sunday in July, the party begins at the crack of dawn in a city on the West side of Iowa. Actually, the party begins Friday night when people begin camping in preparation for the ride. The tradition is to dip the back wheel of your bike in the Missouri River at the start of the ride and to dip the front one in the Mississippi at the end. The days can be anywhere between 50 and 80 miles long and the entire week usually comes to about 450 miles. There are a few stopover towns along each day's route where ample amounts of food and beer are served. The overnight towns are equipped with ample tent space, food vendors, live music, and beer gardens. The route changes every year so that different towns get the privilage of hosting the ten thousand riders for a night. To put it simply, this is an exciting but simple week of strenuous outdoor activity, outrageously rigged cycling contraptions, shocking outfits, rolling hills, cornfields, and fun times with really friendly, laid back mid-westerners.
I became privy to this great ride a few years ago when my mom and her brothers decided to revisit their youth by participating in Ragbrai again. They grew up in Iowa and rode in the first few rides in the seventies. In July of 2007, we all rode the last four days of Ragbrai to test the waters. By "we all" I mean me and 6 or 8 adults over the age of 45. We had a great time and were excited at the prospect of returning. My parents and aunt and uncle have been back the last two years but I have been busy and waiting for a friend my age to join me and make the week all the more exciting. For this summer, it wasn't looking like I could recruit anyone.
Luckily, I can always count on Joyce. She is my best friend from college and, simply put, wifey. We were random roommates freshman year and were quickly married. If there is anyone I can spend seven days in a tent with without wanting to kill, it's her. We are different in a lot of ways but we compliment each other well and we always have fun. We have done a good amount of biking together and words can't even express how excited I am to be doing this with her!! She has been living in Newport News, VA since January so I have had the privelage of seeing her often but she is moving to Boulder, CO in August so we will consider this our last hoorah for a while. What better way to hoorah than with strenuous outdoor activity, outrageously rigged cycling contraptions, shocking outfits, rolling hills, cornfields, and fun times with friendly, laid back mid-westerners?