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Seven Days, 444 miles, Over 10,000 people, and... pie?
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Mizike



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 5130
Location: Iowa City

PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:57 pm    Post subject: Seven Days, 444 miles, Over 10,000 people, and... pie? Reply with quote

I have mentioned in the past that I am from Iowa and am quite proud of it. Well, RAGBRAI is one of the best annual events in Iowa and I'm just shameless enough to shamefully promote it.

RAGBRAI - The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa starts this upcoming Sunday. For those of you who don't know what it is, it's a... umm, a bike ride that, uh, goes across Iowa. It's really great, too.

Seriously, though, not enough people know about this. Each year, over 10,000 people come to Iowa to ride for the whole week and thousands more ride for a day or two. Last year there were riders from all 50 states and 19 different countries (I met a rider from Sweden while eating pie in front of St. Olaf's Parish just after having passed through a town that billed itself as a Little Sweden. He said the hills had nothing on the Alps.).

The thing is, RAGBRAI is first and foremost about the people. As I mentioned, the ride is a week-long event - it's not a race. You ride through small towns in Iowa and the first thing you see are kids lined up holding out their hands waiting for high-fives. You'll also see families sitting in front of their houses in lawn chairs just to greet riders and find out where they're from and how far they travelled to be in the ride. Inside the towns there is almost always great food and entertainment as the communities know the route a few months in advance and want to make things enjoyable for the riders (the economic boost of 10,000 visitors also helps). Each night the ride stops in a predetermined overnight town and the riders are given space to camp by the town's residents (usually in a park or on a football field). Many times the riders outnumber the town's population, but that doesn't seem to bother people. You'll see residents letting riders use their lawns, basements, whatever they need. The riders form a community of their own. Since they're all camping and it is the summer, things can be uncomfortable sometime (there was a decent storm that hit an overnight town last year) and the riders become close out of a sense of mutual suffering. Talking to adjacent riders and finding out what brought them to Iowa is always entertaining.

The second thing I think RAGBRAI is about, is the food. Towns know that they will get a huge economic boost from the ride so they are stocked and ready with all sorts of foods. The most widely-sought and important of these foods are the pies. Eating big slices of Strawberry-Rhubarb pie for as little as $1 with a scoop of ice cream underneath an Oak Tree after having ridden 15 miles since the last town is as close to heaven as I'm likely to get. Vendors will also set up shop somewhere along the day's route. Foods range from Pancakes, belgian waffles, and breakfast burritos early in the day to pasta, turkey legs, and home made Ice-Cream later on. The overnight Towns have often have a carnival atmosphere with more music, games, foods, and drinks than anyone could possibly need. Here traditional Iowan staples like pork tenderloins and beer are seen side-by-side with jambalaya, funnel cakes, and wine. I know of no other place where such ecclectic foods can be right next to each other and have it seem normal.

The Third thing is the scenery. The fact that this is listed last is more a testiment of how great the people and food are rather than a knock against the landscape. There is something unbelieveably relaxing about the rolling hills of Iowa. Ever see a painting by Grant Wood? That's Iowa.

So... yeah. That was long, sorry, but I get quite excited about this thing and I really cannot say enough good things about the ride. Have any Sinfesters gone on RAGBRAI before? Are any planning on going this year?
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Dro



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3854

PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did RAGBRAI about 10 years ago (when I lived in Iowa City). It really was a great time. I hadn't really trained for it but was in good shape from ultimate frisbee. But on one of the steeper hills as I was downshifting desperately (I was on a hybrid bike that was comfortable but not very light), I was quickly passed by this old old guy on one of those old style bikes with the giant front wheel. He was wearing no shirt, had a long white beard, and was smoking a pipe.

Also impressive was the drinking some people could do after 4 days of 80+ miles. But it was a very laid back, friendly scene with families and kids as well. The pancake breakfasts were entertaining with some pancake flippers doing spectacular juggling between griddles. I guess they got lots of practice feeding thousands of people.

Anyway, I'd like to do that again sometime.
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Cap'n Lazarus



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 473
Location: Denver

PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now's your chance, Dro.

No guts, no glory!
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Drui



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
Posts: 541
Location: 'Jersey :}

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This sounds like one of the things I'm gonna wanna do after I graduate, definitely.
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Sojobo



Joined: 12 Jul 2006
Posts: 2443

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dro wrote:
I was quickly passed by this old old guy on one of those old style bikes with the giant front wheel. He was wearing no shirt, had a long white beard, and was smoking a pipe.

That is one of the best images I have ever had described for me. I've already related that story to other people, it is so goofyjoybringing.
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Dusty



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 650

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i will challenge any of you to a frisbee match.
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Kilgore



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 2833
Location: Portland, Or

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds great!

I wish I was in Iowa.
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maniac_wolfman



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 628

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dusty wrote:
i will challenge any of you to a frisbee match.


Ultimate frisby?

Oh it is on bitch.
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The Victim Here



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 2813
Location: Almost Not Trinity.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I live to an old age, I am doing this. Without a doubt.
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Sheseala



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 1:24 am    Post subject: Dubuque is not friendly to bikes. Reply with quote

I'd be amused if they did this east to west in Dubuque and used University Avenue.
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Atrophy Annie



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 1690
Location: Your Mom

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, I'm not far from Iowa...
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Dro



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3854

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dusty wrote:
i will challenge any of you to a frisbee match.


uhhh, 1 on 1?

That seems like a pretty un-ultimate attitude anyway. I'd rather hear, "I'd love to play a little pick-up with any of you!"

I'm enjoying it now more than I ever have, and I've been playing for 17 years. At some point my knees will give out and that will be it. But for now, I'm with a group that likes to go long, throw the hammer, and have a good time.
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maniac_wolfman



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 628

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dro wrote:
At some point my knees will give out and that will be it. But for now, I'm with a group that likes to go long, throw the hammer, and have a good time.


Kinky.
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Billiam



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
Posts: 34
Location: 6 mi N of Seattle Fault

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mizike, I'll have to make a note of this one. Sounds like fun and a great way to spend a vacation. And I like pie. Alot.

I take it that most everyone camps out at the overnight stops? The website also seems to refer to groups often. How enjoyable would it be for a solo or pair of riders? Rest stops on the way with water and snacks? I'm interested (though maybe not for real for a few years).

I just did the STP (Seattle to Portland) bike ride for the first time last weekend, but it's definitely a bit more about endurance than this one sounds like (204 miles over 2 days, or 1 day for the insane). About the same number of riders, though. Today was my first day back in the saddle!
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Dennis J. Squidbunny



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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Location: AUSTRALIA YOU FAKIR

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bags being on Dro's team.
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