BBIKE Rides RAGBRAI: Days 1 & 3
That's RAGBRAI Day 2 done! Well, technically it's the third day of this weeklong ride across the rural state of Iowa, but the first day was the RAGBRAI Expo that welcomes the 20,000+ riders and kicks off the event.
Upon arriving my father and I double-checked we had most of the gear we had planned to bring, any anxieties of unpreparedness being calmed by the fact that RAGBRAI makes available plenty of food and repairs along the way— and thinking that we are experienced cyclists with bigger fish to fry than worrying about everything that could go wrong along the way. That's part of the fun right?
We'll, so far so good and no incidents or mishaps to write home about yet, but hopefully, I haven't just jinxed it. As has become a common sign of good luck for me on bike trips, I got a flat tire even before we started. I take it as a good omen that any initial bad energy gets itself out of the way before I embark. We had to fix the flat (due to a rogue thorn in the grass) in the parking lot of a Walgreens across the street from the Expo, but I went to sleep a bit more confident the first official ride day would start off on the right foot.
The first day pedaled away from the Missouri River in Sioux City and ended at Storm Lake, following the original route of 1973 ride exactly 50 years ago. I would say that it snaked its way across the Iowan farmland, but the state's roads form a grid where right angles are the only turns you'll experience. We traveled 77 miles with plenty of water, pancakes, and lemonade, and PB&Js to fuel us along the way. There was an endless stream of riders from start to finish, with huge crowds in each of the main towns on the route. We arrived in the early afternoon a bit more tired (and hot) than expected but happy we had gotten the first-day jitters done with. Food, rest, and a walk along the lake took our minds off our tired legs and we set up our tent, thinking of tomorrow's ride— but not too closely for fear of anticipating the heat and predicted headwind.
Monday was the second day of riding, sustained by the fact that the total distance was around 13 miles less than the previous day, along with significantly less elevation gain. Now I'm not complaining about long days in the saddle, but reality hits pretty hard in the Iowa summer heat and being in the sun all day long. I'm also not quite as strong as I usually am because I was so ill two weeks ago, an unfortunate circumstance I described in my past RAGBRAI training blog. But today felt good on the bike, fueled by another early morning visit to Chris' Cakes pancake stand and a solid rhythm helped by wide flat roads. Also, today was gravel day! Gravel biking is skyrocketing in popularity and RAGBRAI decided to offer an alternative route on Day 2 that incorporates gravel routes for those cyclists that love a bit of rugged riding. And I had the perfect machine to take on those gravel paths. I am riding the entire week on the BBIKE EXP gravel bike. It's the perfect setup that handles excellently in loose gravel and provides tons of extra comfort on paved roads. It's a fast-rolling bike with wide, treaded tires and the aggressive geometry fits me perfectly, staying comfortable even on extended days. I've already gotten compliments on the attractive bike by cyclists rolling past and asking about the Benelli brand— I'm glad to represent the brand at this unique event that brings together so many passionate cyclists.
And tomorrow there's more RAGBRAI! Stay tuned here to hear upcoming updates from the ride and see images of my BBIKE in action. Until then...