Sunday, July 25, 2010

68.5 miles of new friends

Three days and many miles later and I'm sitting in a free internet cafe bus in Storm Lake, Iowa to rave about how awesome Ragbrai is and complain about how tired I am. I don't have much time so I'll be brief. We drove A LOT Friday and a little more Saturday morning. The last six hours of the journey (driving west across Iowa) were spent in a van: 5 riders, our bags, and one bike. It was rough but we played some good games and listened to car talk.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, we, along with 10,000 other riders, got a warm welcome to the wonders of Ragbrai in Sioux City, IA. We ate a lot of food, drank beer, got lots of free junk, danced in the street to chumbawumba, saw smashmouth perform live, and watched fireworks.

We got up at 6 am to pack up and get out of town. We rode a solid 68.5 miles with 4,000 feet of incline, stopping often to eat, drink, "nap", and pee in cornfields. There is nothing like peeing in a cornfield. It is part gross and part the coolest thing ever. Ben wants to try and get lost in a cornfield, something that is not taken lightly by the people in Iowa. One of my mom's best friends growing up lived on a farm and her little brother got lost in their cornfield once. They spent hours looking for him and eventually had to track him down with a helicopter. So we'll see if Ben is balls to the wall enough to try something so controversial.

I have spent plenty of time in the midwest but every time I'm here I am newly amazed at how friendly people are. We don't lock up our bikes ever. Becuase why would anyone steal a bike? Picnic tables everywhere are like little speed dating (speed friending?) booths, you sit somewhere for an hour and you're likely to have two or three conversations the wonderful strangers that are sure to come sit with you. Today, Joyce and I wore our most awesome and flamboyant bike shorts and got at least 50 compliments on them by poeple riding by throughout the day. People just ask you questions and care about your life and this would never ever happen in DC. I can't imagine it happening in Florida either, not to this extent. The contact and conversation with strangers passing through your life, and passing you on the road, is an unusual thing for me and I love it. Today at lunch, my mom met a woman her age who grew up like a mile from her and went to her neighboring high school. It was cool.

My friends are anxiously waiting for me to finish so that we can go swimming in the lake by our tent city. I guess it's a good sign that I thought I'd be complaining about my soreness and exhaustion and I didn't end up discussing them at all. Yes, I'm sore and exhausted but I am up for the challenge and excited to get stronger and more capable as the week goes on. Tomorrow, a 79 mile day should help. I don't know what the future holds and I don't know when I'll be blogging next. But know that I'm having lots of fun and Ragbrai is all that I expected it to be and more...

Highlight of the day: slip and sliding with Joyce in a farmer's front yard in my bike shorts and sports bra.

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