For the third year in a row, we joined 20,000 other cyclist on the world’s largest recreational bike ride from the Missouri to the Mississippi River. Every RAGBRAI is different due to different routes, different weather, and different people. This year was no exception.
With Steve’s brother Gary & our friends Alison and Blaine, we began the adventure in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday for the big bike expo. It was blazing hot, so we were happy to have booked a hotel (with hot tub) for our pre-ride nights.
We awoke on Sunday, the first day of the ride to thunder, lightning, and rain. After waiting out the lightning we hit the road and weathered the rain most of the day. What a start to this year’s ride. Luckily I’d bought a cute new cycling rain jacket at REI to get me through the 60 miles.
We also passed through a little town called Marne. It’s not spelled the same but close enough for a photo op. Note the Sasquatch in the background. Day two featured clear skies and much cooler weather for our 70+ miles. Cute towns, farms, and lots of good food (free sweet corn, anyone?) made for a good day.
Each evening in camp with our charter the kegs are flowing and there’s live music. Pork Belly Ventures has it figured out.
Tuesday was our short day with just over 40 miles ridden in perfect weather. The highlight was a stop at Howell’s Greenhouse, a large farm that featured all kinds of fun attractions including melon cannons and goat yoga.
Wednesday was the long day–90 miles for the rest of the crew. I sat out and enjoyed meeting new friends on the sag bus and in our overnight town, Centerville. Sitting out allowed me to take advantage of the beautiful city pool, which was adjacent to our campsite.
A warm ride from Centerville to Fairfield on Thursday featured an interesting stop in Lebanon, IA, an Amish town, where we were treated to the most delicious baked goods on the planet. It was a “two slices of pie” day for Steve, and I tried to meet every one of the Amish horses (at least 25) in the paddock.
A highlight of each day along the route is a stop or two at the Iowa Craft Beer Bus. Gary earned his t-shirt for the second year in a row by stopping at least 10 times.
Friday, another sag day for me (too much sun yesterday) took the boys through Geode State Park, and they blew through the 70 mile ride, finishing in Burlington.
That evening we had some fun visitors. First, Steve’s old friend Kent and his family came to visit us in Pork camp. It was fun to catch up on each other’s lives since we hadn’t seen each other for over 32 years!
Our second visitor is a friend of Pork Belly and American Idol winner Maddie Poppe. Maddie is from Iowa and performed for us two years ago before she hit it big. Her appearance was a big surprise to all of us.
We finished the cross-state trek in Keokuk, a small town on the Mississippi River with a pretty 70 mile ride. On the way we visited a few other cute river towns who, as usual, welcomed us with enthusiasm.
In all the guys ride about 460 miles and I did a little over 300 for the week. Now we’ll spend a few days with family and then begin the drive home to rest, get caught up, and pack for our next adventure!