|My two-wheeled companion, Lexa; Photo by Stephanie Hertel via Instagram|
If you haven’t been following along, RAGBRAI stands for Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. It’s always the last week in July, during the most humid and hot time of year of Iowa. So sure, it’s going to be a scorcher and riding 40-80 miles per day in 110+ degree heat indices doesn’t sound overly pleasant, but it’s truly an awesome experience and I would recommend it to anyone, athlete or not... especially Iowans.
RAGBRAI is a leisure, fun ride across the state. It’s not meant to be a race and it’s best that way. Sometimes I entertain the idea of riding hard in the morning in order to get to the next overnight town around noon to escape most of the high, mid-day sun. But I think that would be missing the point of RAGBRAI. It’s not about speed, it’s about enjoying each pass-through town and all of the activities that it has to offer on the journey. It’s about meeting fellow riders and making new friends along the way.
Early morning riding is by far the best. Everything is peaceful, calm, and beautiful. The landscape is truly breathtaking and moves me to my core... sappy, right? But it's so true and I can't help but feel blessed for the experience in the sunrise hours. The majority of the riders (i.e. those that didn't get a little too tipsy the previous evening) start around 6:00 am, which means you hear hundreds of neighboring riders clicking into their petals, downshifting and in general riding as one. Picture one graceful, giant school of fish. As the day passes, riders start to disperse and there is no longer that continuous group movement of the morning, and honestly, it's probably safer that way. But there is something purely magical about RAGBRAI mornings.
So this coming week, think of me as you’re enjoying your modern amenities. I will miss air conditioning, the internet, and a soft bed the most, but it will be well worth it as I take in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Iowa and RAGBRAI via my two-wheeled companion.