Day Two quickly became a day of many first time experiences. Storm Lake is aptly named. I woke up at 2 a.m. to the sound of rain falling on my tent. It made packing up a little more challenging, so most of us did not get on the road until 7:30 a.m. A larger than usual group decided to spend the day cruising thrift stores and record stores. The rain was wet but not cold and there was not much wind.
I have only been seriously riding a road bike for about 18 months and all of that time California has been in a drought. I rode 20 miles in the rain today and that is the longest I have ridden in the rain. Again my coach Sarah Harriet gave good advice: watch the road because sometimes holes and other hazards are hard to see. There are these long divots in Iowa roads called rumbles. If you save rumble while you go over them it sounds like “ru-u-um-bl-ble” and does not hurt so much as wake you up. They are in the road to slow people down before a stop and they were invisible in the rain. There were accidents all over and a particularly bad one that required 5 ambulances at the railroad crossing. RAGBRAI first responders asked us to walk our bikes across.
As I rolled into Fonda I was going slow and noticed that a local resident was kindly handing out bottles of water. The guy in front of me rode past her and then decided to stop all of the sudden without warning. I had my hands up on my handlebars and off my brakes and then it felt like slow motion. I went to the left to avoid him and saw the curb and a driveway full of people. I was saying whoa, whoa, whoa and this may have stopped the guy in front of him and I ran into him. We both began falling and thankfully I parted from my bike and kind of rolled. The people on the driveway gave me a 10 for grace. I was not hurt (just a couple of scratches) and my bike was okay. So was the other rider. The rider who started the commotion was extremely apologetic. This was my first RAGBRAI fall and the first on a road bike.
I bought a piece of consolation strawberry-rhubarb pie in Fonda and tepid cup of coffee. The next 10 miles was a challenge because I was soaked from the rain and there was a hearty breeze chilling me. My legs felt leaden. When the sun came out I stopped to apply sunscreen. I met Paul and Liam, originally from Galway and now from Iowa. We had a lovely wee chat. I climbed back on my bike and set off and then had my first lengthy conversation with another rider–Lisa from Iowa who is riding her first RAGBRAI since claiming victory over breast cancer.
Team member Andrea Rooney from Horton, Iowa has a thing for Amish men. There were several roadside stands run by Amish people. I was curious and trying not to stare. On the second booth a woman with “Princess” on her bike and a crown on her helmet started shouting to the folks on the side of the road. “Do you have donuts? Do you have donuts?” Then she and her riding buddy started to wax eloquent about how good Amish donuts taste. I caught up with them and asked why they are special. They are like Krispy Kreme only better. They melt in your mouth.
I also met a fellow USC alumni who graduated in 1984 in Manson. He was an aeronautical engineering major and in ROTC for the Air Force so our paths did not cross. He lives in Massachusetts now and we had a great conversation. Then it was time to move on. I did not try the ham balls also known as meat candy. I thought about it, but I am hoping to avoid my first potty stop in a corn field.
The cruel course designers threw in 4 hills that were real doozies as we climbed into Fort Dodge. We are staying at a gorgeous big home of another friend of Team Larry along with another team. I am writing this post from the most romantic screened porch. The back yard is full of tents and friends and family talking. People in Iowa take politics seriously. Better go join in the fun.