Whoever said there are no hills in Iowa has never attempted to ride a bike across that state. On the first day of our 490 mile trek, I spent just as much time walking my bike as I did riding it. T. and I realized that we had been practicing on a Rail Trail in Boston – a FLAT paved surface. I honestly don’t think I had ridden my bike up a single hill until I got to Iowa.
After 40 miles, I called it quits for the day. The friend we brought with us to drive our gear from town to town met us at one of the stopover towns, threw my bike in the back of the truck, and drove me to our first overnight destination. I thought 40 miles was such an accomplishment that I decided to take the second day off. Besides the fact that it was too painful for me to sit on my bike the second day.
By the third day I was back in the saddle again. I did about 40 miles and then hopped in the truck once again. The fourth day it rained, and since I had enough trouble biking 40 miles in good weather, I wasn’t going to even attempt biking in the rain. My boyfriend rejoiced. He was doing his best to not take off ahead of me each day and this was his reward.
All in all, I biked about 150 miles over seven days and had a blast. There was indeed food every few miles. And not just any food – really good food! Breakfast burritos, Mr. Pork Chop, church dinners. Every Boy Scout troop and local charity from Onawa to Clinton was out on the route selling us something delicious – for a reasonable price, no less. The people in Iowa were incredibly friendly, every rider was fascinating to talk to. Every time I stopped, there were tons of riders coming in behind me. I was never the last one, never alone.
It was an adventure I’d highly recommend to anyone with a remote interest. Go with a group – there were six of us plus our volunteer driver. You can go without a driver and pay to have your stuff carted from town to town if you want. Other states have similar rides, but Iowa was the first to do it, and in my opinion they do such a good job I wouldn’t look anywhere else. Of course, I haven’t ridden any other states, so I’m a little biased. In fact, I haven’t really ridden my $80 craigslist bike since RAGBRAI. But that’s a Renaissance Soul for you. We do something until we’re satisfied, then we move on.
For some great pics of RAGBRAI 2004, click here.