RAGBRAI 2004 - Day One - Sunday, July 25
69.0 miles - Onawa to Lake View - 2,685 feet of climb
We were awakened at the ungodly hour of 6:00 AM to start our adventure. Unfortunately, this was going to become commonplace as the week went on. Oh yeah, and that first morning, it was about 40 degrees, and we hadn't put up the rain fly on the tent since there was no chance it was going to rain. So naturally, all the dew and condensation formed on the tent, leaked through, and soaked us and our stuff. Regardless, we were still pretty pumped to get going. This is a shot of us prepping to leave.
This was our first stop in Turin. My goal for the trip was to take a picture in each of the pass-through towns. Well, each of the pass-through 'spots', I suppose. Places like this, with populations of less than a hundred, provide a couple of food vendors and a place to get some water, but little else.
The next brief rest was in Castana. Again, a very small place, but any roadside stop attracts a huge crowd.
A view of Castana the other direction, with some long lines leading up to the breakfast burrito stand.
The first real town we came to was Mapleton. Real towns like this tend to create huge bottlenecks, as thousands of riders try to stop, ride, walk, and start again, all at the same time, and all on a narrow little street.
Mapleton had a very nice park area with all kinds of vendors and entertainment. There was even a karaoke machine set up for those people who wanted to sing a little bit before the big stretch of hills.
Shortly after Mapleton came a RAGBRAI legend, Mr. Pork Chop. This old guy sets up on one leg of the route every day, and has done this for who-knows-how-many years. He sells the absolute best pork chops, and he's a huge draw for hungry riders.
Looking back from Mr. Pork Chop shows a line of riders coming down the hill. It was amazing - no matter how fast or slow you went, no matter how many people you passed or how many passed you, you were never by yourself. You were never even close to being by yourself; you were always in the middle of a huge, never-ending line of bikers. More than anything else, this aspect of never being alone gives you the feeling of just how big this event is.
Jeff and King as we took a break at Mr. Pork Chop. This was in the middle of an eighteen-mile stretch between Mapleton and Schleswig, so we all needed some breaks. Incidentally, this stretch was also the hilliest of any on the entire week.
A mile or so ahead of us, there was a bad accident. A guy got his tire stuck in a crack in the road, and ended up with some pretty bad injuries. He had to be flown out by helicopter, and so they stopped the ride for about a half hour and kept us on a hilltop. Eventually, he ended up being okay. This is the mass of riders that accumulated on this hill before they let us go again.
Myself, Jeff, and King as we were stopped on the hill.
This is what the scenery looked like the majority of the time. It's amazing how many acres of corn and beans there are in this state. The weather was perfect for this day, though, despite the sun being extremely harsh and yielding me a very nice sunburn on my arms and legs, complete with blisters.
You see all kinds of riders on this, and all kinds of bikes. There were a fairly good number of people who tricked out their bikes like this, with various themes, from cows to patriotism to alcohol - and much more. This woman seems to have a thing for hearts and for the color pink.
I told you the line of riders never ended. And I told you those hills sucked, too - look at the people walking up.
This is looking the other direction from the same hill. Being able to see for miles like this - and seeing nothing but riders - makes quite an impression.
After eighteen long and hilly miles, we finally rolled into Schleswig, the highest point on the route. The residents of many of these towns came out to sit on the curb and watch the line go by - and offer some encouragement as well.
We quite literally took over any town we passed through. Any spare patch of grass turned into a bike parking lot, a rest area, a picnic ground, or any of a million other things. Ten thousand people invading towns of just a few hundred makes for quite a sight.
King and Jeff are ... well ... special.
Another RAGBRAI legend, Tender Tom's Turkey, the only place I've ever seen where you can get a whole turkey leg. Unfortunately, that damn turkey tends to make you very, very tired.
The tiny 'town' of Kiron. There were about half a dozen tents and a dozen kybos parked on a street, and that was pretty much the town.
Unfortunately, the picture didn't turn out, but these three bikes have tags on them that say they're from Germany. Riders from every state and over a dozen countries come to participate in this - year after year. It's an amazing place to meet some amazing people.
The second-to-last town every day usually goes all-out. On Sunday, Wall Lake had a DJ, beer garden, and a whole bunch of food vendors. We had been taking the day very slowly, both because of the hills and because King aggravated his recently-operated-on shoulder, so we weren't even in this town until about 6:00, when things started winding down. Even so, it was a much-needed rest after a sixteen-mile stretch.
When we got into Lake View, we met King's friends Kevin (second from left) and Steve (second from right). Kevin would stay with us for a couple days before driving back, and Steve would stay the whole time, riding only one day. You can also see the house we camped near, and our tent.
Erin, left, was with Team Kum & Go, and hung out with us from time to time. We ended up riding in the back of Kevin's truck over to a fast-food joint to grab some dinner.
Finally, we relaxed for some time on the lake, and watched the twilight fade. Unfortunately, we were all way too tired to do any partying, a theme that would remain constant (at least for me) throughout the week.
On to day two -->