Our team packed up by 7 a.m. and bicycled down the road. We were already 3 miles into the ride so we only had to ride 73 miles today–73 rolling miles. It was a personal best: most miles and most elevation. It only took me 10.5 hours with stops. I averaged 6-8 mph on the hills and between 25 and 35 miles on the downhill. It was so hard but people made it fun.
First there was the other riders. Many of them eternal optimists. We would be slogging up another hill and someone would cheerfully say, “At least it is not as hot as last week.” Or “This is the hardest day so the rest of the week will be great.” Everyone is so friendly. And there are a lot of characters: guys in kilts, people with funny stuff on their helmets. My favorite helmet was Team Spam with their Spam cans strapped on their helmets and their SPAM jerseys saying “crazy tasty”.
The host towns then go the extra mile to make us welcome (and for their nonprofits to make money): Church ladies making pies, volunteer fire departments turning the fire station into a beer garden. Farmers along the way (especially at hilltops) offer everything from pork chops to breakfast burritos. Boy Scouts sell water and several high school students sold pickles or gatorade to raise money for their trip to Washington, DC. Plus the towns decorate to make us feel welcome with flags and bicycles hanging from tractor buckets. Its like the Tour de France only the towns and farms are neat as pins in Iowa.
There were so many long hills that I found myself texting Sarah Harriet for coaching. What do you do when you start feeling the lactic acid build up in your legs? Rest every 5 or 6 miles. Keep drinking water. I followed her advice and I made it to Storm Lake! You know you are tired though when you stop at a cemetery because there is lawn and shade. Now my teammates are ready to party so I will sign off.
Louise from Bemidji says hi.