We have ridden approximately 210 miles in three days. Today was the shortest. It was supposed to be 59.9 miles but Ragbrai lied to us and my odometer read 64.5 at the end of the trip. At any normal time in my life, 60 miles would sound like a long way to ride my bike in a day. But Ragbrai is far from normal and it was a breeze after yesterday's 79. We met a lot of fun people along the way, some of whom we have continued to run into. One of our bfffls, Mark, is this guy who grew up in New York and now lives in Oregon. He is totes the coolest person ever. Just kidding. He is a creeper. Joyce got stuck riding 15 miles with him yesterday because she beleived she was entering a friendly, 5 or 10 minute bike conversation with a pleasant stranger. He tried to follow us around one of the towns yesterday afternoon and, at one point, we jumped on our bikes to get going and he ran to catch up with us. We lost him when we told him we were going to spend quality time with my parents. We have yet to see him again, though.
Joyce and Ben and I are more intimate than ever. Yesterday morning, waiting in an hour long line for the best eggs and french toast we may have ever had, Joyce and I saw a side of Ben we haven't seen before. His occasional "mood swings" are in full SWING when he hasn't had any coffee, has to wait a long time for things and is exhausted. Within two minutes of his first sip of coffee, our friend was back to normal. I didn't really think it was possible for Joyce and I to be any more intimate, after being betrothed to one another for so many years, until yesterday when we decided that instead of paying $5 each to shower, we'd just shower together. We were completely serious about it but they wouldn't allow it. Looking back it's laughable because the showers (a portable shower truck) were like the size of two middle school lockers so we would have been bumping butts, and who knows what else the entire time. We are also rubbing icy hot on each other, sharing our life dreams, and learning each others' bowel movements (or they're learning mine...).
We have entertained ourselves in many ways, mainly eating, biking, and laughing at our silly jokes that others may or may not find funny. Some of the best are:
1. It's all fun and games until somebody starts bleeding from the butt. (keep in mind the PG context of this... we are riding our bikes hundreds of miles on seats that are impossibly uncomfortable). As of now, it still fun and games for us.
2. "Ragbrai" (pronounced: Rigbray) We are thinking how hilarious it will be if we can drop this in conversation with someone sometime in the week, at a point which it would be impossible for one not to know how to pronounce the word. So far, we have only said it to each other in hopes that people around us hear. Nobody has gone balls to the wall and said it to a stranger. I'll keep you posted on our progress.
3. "We can sleep when we're dead. Or at 10:30." I said this Saturday night, in all seriousness, while my grandma self was convincing them we didn't need to stay too long at the smashmouth concert. I tried to be badass but it ended up kicking me in the butt. I am dying for eight hours of sleep, last night we only got 6, the night before 7. Tonight it's in the cards.
4. The mecca of spandex that is Rigbray. Not much explanation except that Joyce so cleverly dropped this line yesterday afternoon and we have been embracing it ever since.
5. We've never been so alive. Third Eye Blind. Need I say more?
You may or may not have noticed that in listing the ways we're entertaining ourselves, I put eating before biking. This was not a mistake. Eating is half, if not more than half, the fun of this gig. We eat like 4,000 calories a day and it's no problem! From corn on the cob to pancakes and breakfas burritos to homemade icecream and pie to pulled pork sandwiches and bratwurst, we've had it all. Also available are giant turkey legs, pork chops on a stick (oh josh would be in heaven!) and fried cheese curds. I'm challenging myself to all three. I will probably eat more meat this week than I have in the past year but I don't feel bad about it. A lot of it comes from Iowa and everyone needs to splurge once in a while anyway.
Eating, biking... and partying. Rest assured, we have been partying. Last night, in Algona, IA, there was an awesome 70's/80's cover band playing some of the best and most classic rock songs that we all know by heart. In my "60 miles is nothing"mentality, I drank one too many last night but don't regret it. It was a fun night and what's a party on wheels with out the party? We haven't stopped in any of the mid-day beer gardens yet, we're still a little ambivalent about consuming a few beers and then biking another 10 or 20 miles in the hot sun but it is bound to happen during one of the next four long days. We are not so balls to the wall in comparison the the many people we see drinking beers and bloody mary's with breakfast before 9 am.
We are, however, more balls to the wall on my parents. I'm telling many stories about Ben and Joyce but let's not forget Betsy and Sandy, the organizers of and inspiration for this ride. They have been chugging along, Sandy more quickly than Betsy. Betsy is a little slow but she knows it, she is like the turtle... slow and steady that wins the race. Sandy has ridden with us some, but also sticks back to keep his wife company some of the time. Today he orchestrated a drafting peleton during our 8 mile stretch riding south into really strong headwinds. In an unfortunate turn of events, his derailer broke and he had to sit on the side of the road in the 90 some degree heat waiting for the sag wagon. I haven't seen him since he got into camp but as far as I know, his bike is in repair as we speak. Hopefully he'll be shiny and new in no time. Tomorrow my mom and dad and I are wearing our Iowa, UNC, and UF bike jerseys and riding together for a part of the day to show off our wonderful school spirit. The Iowa jersey is less original here, as you can imagine, but cool none the less.
Aside from my Dad's derailer problem (and Ben's popped tube--minor incident), there haven't been any issues. I have sore legs, I can feel my muscles strengthening. I have a bad heat rash on my thighs (thank god for the chamois butter). We have some achy knees, bony butts, bruised hands, and sore necks. But we have icy hot, advil, my mom for massages, and our positive attitudes. All is wonderful on the open roads of Iowa.