Sep 21, 2013


1990, a Boyz II Men cassette tape and Casio calculator watch were on my birthday list.  It was also the year Dad and I pumped the Schwinn 500 miles on Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.  14 yrs old and loose spandex, plugging away 3" behind Dad's gassy derriere.

The memories etched.
Little things like up at 6:00 am, pedaling through the cool of morning towards an orange dawn.
Hearing corn stalks rustle in the wind and the bike chain clacking through the derailleur.
Our country cruise powered by Methodist apple pie and pork chop stands littering the route.   
Camping at night and seeing Team Gumby build a giant slip 'n slide and get smashed on beer bombs and brats.

Wanted Pigtails to experience the ride as I did when a runt, so woke the tandem out of retirement for RAGBRAI this July. 

The full route is 7 days.  I wanted to ease her in and not snap her twiggy quads, so we did the first three days.  Day 3 of the ride camped in Des Moines, so it was easy to be done early.

Picture no cars and 20,000 riders filling both sides of a two lane blacktop.  The route cuts by thousand acre farms, bikes swarming tiny towns population 1,500. 

The locals and church groups come out in full force to feed our faces.  Home cooked meatloaf, sweet corn, micro-brewed beer and hard dipped ice cream. 

The route ranges from 50 to 85 miles a day, with stops in towns about every 10 miles.  Everyone's smiling, the out-of-state riders smitten by Iowa's charm and rolling countryside eye candy.  Rows of flags, waving grandmas on lawn chairs and live bands greet each break.  So many bikes, you have to step off and hoof it through.

Dallas Center had midget wrestling on the town square.  #classy

Pitch tent in the overnight town, don the Speedo briefs trunks and head for a watering hole to desalinate after a hot day in the saddle.

Shower and dinner on the square.

 Hit the sack @11pm, a sun poke and crispy temps are the morning alarm.

Next day, things are a little rough before coffee. 

Fix that by riding ten miles to the first stop for a cup o' Joe and plates of Chris Cakes.  Same stuff scarfed when I rode as a kid.

To be continued...



  1. Anonymous9/21/2013

    Sounds awesome. Those church folk really know how to feed a crowd. How did pigtails like the adventure? Were there a lot of kids? Seems like the standard American preteen would moan and cry over such an experience.

    1. She smiled a bunch, wanted to ride more days and asked to roll all 7 days next year. She got sick on a snowcone overdose day two, yakked on my sleeping bag. Good to go after that.

  2. Where are you in the picture of Pigtails squatting with a plate of food? Looks a lot like my mom's hometown.

    1. Harlan! Do we win a prize?

  3. Nope, bummer. I was thinking it looked a lot like the courthouse in Grundy Center, though I don't know if RAGBRAI even goes through there.

    1. We rode through Guthrie Center this year, it that a cousin of Grundy Center?

  4. Anonymous9/23/2013

    Looks like a lot of fun!! Great memories made I'm sure!! I always go back to the cross country trips my parents took us on as I'm sure Pigtails will too one day. :)


    1. Vinyl seat burns and juice box brawls, this:

  5. Stillwaiting here (changed my username and blog address because we're no longer waiting!)

    What an amazing way to spend time together! 40+ years later, my brother and I still talk about the family trips across Ontario and Quebec in our family station wagon. I'm sure Pigtails will look back at these times with pride and happiness. I'm looking forward to reading the "to be continued".

    1. Glad the wait is over, congrats on the race!


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