Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Across the state on two wheels

I am on the struggle bus today, friends.  I'd say I'm driving, but I'll be good to drive to work this morning, so someone else will have to drive the struggle bus. Any volunteers?

You see, my 33-year-old self likes sleep.  And I'm still adjusting to being back in the working world, which means I'm ready for bed at 9 p.m. most nights.  Sometimes earlier.  My head is usually on the pillow by 10 p.m.  So nice.

But I sacrificed a little extra sleep last night in the name of volunteering.  And having fun.  I served beers to bicyclists who are on day three of a seven-day, 400-mile ride across the state of Iowa.  It's an annual event known better as RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa).

It's a pretty big deal with thousands of riders, including Lance Armstrong, who has been tweeting about his trek across my home state.

Yeah, I know Lance is controversial, but I'll hand it to anyone who is willing to spend seven days on a bicycle, riding from town to town, and partying and camping along the way.  I don't know how anyone does it.  Especially in late July when the heat and humidity are often brutal. And especially after a night of drinking and dancing to some great tunes.  (And this year, there's a guy running it!)

Even though RAGBRAI has been going on for most of my life, I've never actually been around it.  I volunteered to help out in a town I used to live and work in.  I wasn't employed at the time, and even after I started my job, I stuck to my obligation.  I don't bow out of my duties, and I thought it'd be fun to be around the riders.

Last night started out simple enough.  I showed up for my post in the beer garden around 7:30 p.m. It was hot and humid, but I figured that would bode well for beer sales, especially with Hairball rocking out on the stage.  Shortly after eight, storm clouds rolled in and the opening band left the stage due to lightning in the area.  As the rain started falling, more people crowded around the beer stand I was in.  Did I mention it was a metal trailer?  Well, it was.  And it was pretty cozy and crazy for the next two hours as rain, hail, winds, thunder, and lightning took over.  But people still wanted to drink (duh), so while the rest of the event crew were scrambling for shelter, we continued serving beer in our little stand. (Yes, it was covered, but we didn't exactly stay dry thanks to wind gusts.) We were shut down a little after ten, and some people weren't so happy about that.  I got chewed out more times than I can count. 

So after all that, I didn't get home until almost 11:30.  Did you read my bedtime above?  Now you know why I'm on the struggle bus.

But it's OK.  Last night was super memorable, and even though I didn't have time to talk to any cyclists about their impulse to ride on RAGBRAI, I think I understand.

1 -- It's a challenge.  As a runner, I totally get the desire to push yourself, train for a goal, and see what you're capable of doing.

2 -- It's a community.  The biking community is very unique and amazingly supportive.  For many of these people, it's the one time a year they see each other.  And they don't take it for granted.  I suppose that's what keeps them up late each night and gets them on the bike the next morning.

3 -- It's tradition.  Once you start doing something, it's hard to quit.

What do you think?  
Could you ride RAGBRAI?


  1. What a cool event! Not something I'd ever do, lol, but awesome nonetheless. :)

  2. I love this blog!! You know I would do it if I could do it on dirt I would be even happier. I just have to get my saddle seat back. Road is different but wow! Bikers are awesome people! Love them.

  3. There is something called Cycle Oregon here. It sounds similar. They have camped out at the university in town and it always looks like fun!

  4. I've always wanted to do RAGBRAI...it's on my bucket list. I should probably get a bike first though ;-)


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