This morning was cool and cloudy—perfect for riding! I decided to ride the first half only to stay on track with my recovery. I was confident that I could get to the meeting town in Mt. Vernon between 10 and 11 before it got hot.
There was a crazy number of people and we could not spread out across the street because the traffic control was not as thorough and the drivers much more impatient. It made for some challenges.
The towns between Hiawatha and Mt. Vernon were really small and unprepared to cope with so many people, so I made short stops, ate my almonds and raisins and kept pedaling.
I felt good and I kept telling myself that 32 miles is like a typical training ride. I also ran into some Team Larry folks and enjoyed getting to know Mike and Carol better. I also played leapfrog with Theresa from Iowa.
We were welcomed lots of enthusiastic residents and even a pipe and drum band as we pedaled into the beautiful little town of Mt. Vernon. It is a college town—home of Cornell College. I learned it was one of two colleges in the nation that students enroll in one course at t time.
I met up with Phyllis and Lane and ate breakfast at a real café! We explored the former intermediate school that was turned into antique shops and art galleries and a community library. The sky broke open while we were browsing and slowed to a drizzle by the time we headed to the truck.
We are staying with Marlene in Coralville. She has a beautiful home but no yard so we are sleeping on her floor instead of pitching our tents. No one is sorry. We arrived, took showers and proceeded to watch a marathon of HGTV Love It or List It. Afterall, we are on vacation. As other team members arrived we were smug in the knowledge that we missed the 20-30 worst miles of the week’s route: long, steep hills with twists and turns in rain.
Some people already had to leave for other commitments, so we were just 16 for dinner at the Iowa River Power restaurant fine dining establishment. It is on a river and next to a dam and a great atmosphere. After dinner we walked out on the dam and listened to Cheap Trick perform at the RAGBRAI concert. We went to Dairy Queen afterward and the poor beleaguered teenager who was working the register watched as her visions of leaving early evaporated upon our arrival.
Tomorrow almost everyone wants to stop at the meeting town—about 41 miles in—so we can pack up and get back to Des Moines by evening. Two team members have to keep driving another 4 hours to return the van in Minneapolis.
I can hardly believe that this adventure is coming to a close. Ted said at dinner that RAGBRAI is like summer camp for adults–camp on steroids. We laughed a lot together tonight. We have celebrated 3 birthdays multiple times. We have inside jokes. We have suffered together and this makes a tight bond. I will miss these characters on Sunday.