I am back home after a wonderful week of riding RAGBRAI. I feel I could write a book about the week.
I rode 5.5 days of the seven days (about 370 miles of the 477 total) of the ride despite planning for the whole thing. Day 2 was very tough, and I decided to ride the bus to the midpoint town and ride from there. In this case, discretion was the better part of valor as I wanted to be sure that I didn't overdo it and miss the rest of the ride.
On day 5, my CPAP machine broke in the night leaving me tired and cranky. When I got ready, I found I had a pulled muscle in the exterior of my right lower leg. It hurt to walk around in my bike shoes, so I opted to ride the bus with several others all day. Some ice packs, beer, and Ibuprofen made me quite roadworthy the following day.
In summary, it was the most wonderful cycling event that I can imagine. RAGBRAI had a profound impact on me, and I found several things along the way.
- some hills: Day one at 60 miles with about 4000 ft of vertical climb showed me I had undertrained for hills. Around my place, there aren't that many good sized hills. I plan to ride them over and over and over. The hills of Iowa are beautiful to behold!
- my legs: About day 3 and about 120 miles into the ride, my legs really started to feel strong. I rode behind my first paceline on my trike (surprisingly, there was a draft down there.) As we cruised along about 19mph from Boone to Ames, I heard someone yell "look at that three wheeler fly!" Two other days, I found great pacelines with my Stratus and they were a blast. Surprisingly, I caught many roadies drafting me and twice they came up to me and commented that I was really flying along on that thing.
- my humility: Watching others go up the hills in perfect form was humbling. There were folks in their 70s on the ride and they were amazing physical specimens.
- my rhythm: I learned more about my body's rhythm for riding. My shifting became second nature on most hills, but there were a few where I misjudged my shifts ended up mashing my way up the right.
- extremely friendly people: The people on RAGBRAI are wonderful. Meeting people from all over the world who were pleasant to ride with was a great experience.
- food: I doubt I lost any weight, but didn't plan to do so. The roadside stands selling fresh foods, smoothies, ice cream, beer, etc. were awesome.
Last brag: on the final day, I did 53 miles and averaged 16.7 mph. It was a great feeling rolling down the last hill and seeing the mighty Mississippi River in front of me.
Thanks to all of you who have helped me train, find good gear, etc. Best purchase for the trip was my Crank Brothers Mallets pedals. They are great clipless pedals and they are working well with street shoes.