Tuesday, July 29, 2008

RAGBRAI 2009 and beer pt2.

Here is the beer, yummy. Thanks Russ! (missed the pix on the last post)

Tall, smooth, wheat-y, with a slight finish of Clove on the pallet.
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I was flown out for work to Iowa July 18th. RAGBRAI. This ride has been rolling across Iowa for more than 3 decades. My boss and I had an agenda at hand...get the daily cyclists on Bianchis for a test of what else is out there other than the typical brands that are forced down their throat. Riders could take a bike out for the day to test it out on the crappy roads of Iowa. My manager and I were to alternate days riding the course and working the demo tent.

The flight was pretty uneventful aside from paying $225.00 for 4 checked bags, ouch! The one check bagged included my T-Cube. The other bags where riding gear, work clothes, tent/supplies for the week and bike tools. Oh well.

The following photos are totally random with no direction or intentions of capturing what RAGBRAI is all about.


This vehicle was parked outside the diner we had breakfast at our first day. This is the new definition of a hybrid vehicle. Part chopped VW Bug, part Harley.



This young woman stopped by the booth the first night to proudly show us her Bianchi. Circa 1982 I believe, Nuova Racing 12v, lugged and nar a sign of rust at the lugs. Full Campagnolo hanging off the frame.



Another close up of the headtube/lugged region. Felice would fall in love again.

My first taste of RAGBRAI was Monday morning. An estimated 10,000 registered cyclists, along with an extra 7,000 riders that decided to 'just show up'. Whoa! With the roads consisting of rolling grades and flats, I kept the Token C50 hoops installed. I don't have much love for non-climbing routes so I was praying the deep dish wheels would make the day shorter for me. Monday was stated as having 5k elevation on the route.

I rolled out around 0730. This was later than expected by one hour. Why? Well, the evening before we were evacuated from our tents at 0200. I woke up to the sounds of heavy winds and barked over to my boss that we should put the rain fly on. No sooner I rolled my head back up there were lights from a fire engine rolling down the farm lane. With the blaring announcement that all campers must evacuate their tents and seek the nearest shelter, my heart started pounding. Like 10% grade pounding! There was a storm rolling in with 50+mph gusts and I didn't feel too safe in my boss's Coleman tent. My Marmont Swallow tent would be a different story but hey, we're not staying in that tent now are we? We made it to the shelter, the storm rolled through quickly and within an hour we were back in our tent sleeping.

Back to the Monday ride. I left our campsite which was on school grounds that supported the FFA so we had plenty of room. The masses where strung along the route as far as the eye could see. Shoulder to shoulder, wheel to wheel; a see of black for the next 3 miles. I opted to stay on the double yellow line and keep it spooled up. Of course every Bianchi bicycle being ridden that day was greeted by an enthusiastic hello by yours truly.

Honestly, I was blown away by the amount of old school steel Bianchis on the ride. Some new ones too but a ton of old ones, nice! The Mid-West has loyalty to the celeste. (cha-lest-tae)

The rest/food stops were Iowa's finest. Corn on stick, pork chops, ribey steak sandwiches, and slip and slides. I was glad I brought a handful of Clif Bars, banana, and Hammer Gel. Just the thought of eating any of the local fare puts me into a food induced coma. One hour into the ride I did stop for breakfast for a breakfast burrito. Yum-eh.

The lay of the land for RAGBRAI is much like my home town only I have bigger hills on a standard road ride. I kept my pace consistent for the day and hustled back to help my boss at the demo tent.

Finishing data - 87.2 miles/5275' total elevation/4'57"/17mph ave.

Wednesday was my second day to ride and was pretty much the same type of route profile only less elevation. Unfortunately by this point, the first day saddle sore was killing me. I suited up and rolled out for my burrito stop one hour into the ride. Munch, munch.

The wind on Wednesday was vicious. Nasty and it took all I could to keep the bike at 19mph on the route. For some odd reason I had the voice of Phil Legget in my head narrating, '...and the wind of today's stage is shattering the field to pieces!' I managed to stay in a rhythm. After we rolled out of the third to last town I passed a guy in a skinsuit(only one I saw on RAGBRAI) and his partner in crime on a new Madone donned in yellow and black paint. This was about 42miles and I took notice because I had acquired the two on my rear at that point. Call it stupidity or naiveness but I tried to shake them.

The situation escalated for the following 7 miles with no offer to pull or suggestion to help from the wheel suckers. By this time I had blown my wad keeping things a boil with them in tow. Near the 50 mile mark I sat up and coasted. Then the Madone guy pulled around with skinsuitman and said 'jump on!'. Nah dude, I'm done. I replied. My heart rate was fine but the legs had sand in them by then.

I hit the next rest stop, grabbed a pineapple fructose juice, banana, strawberry smoothie, took a breather and assessed the rest of the day. The rest of the ride I just spun easy and took in the scenery trying to forget the sore on my sit bone from sitting so long....where are the hills man!

One night Styx played a benefit show and packed in 20,000 attendees. There also was a large screen projection screen replaying the Tour stage from earlier in the day. I was sick to my stomach watching Barloworld's Augustyn go off the road after being the first to summit the highest climb of that stage. Lucky day he walked away, bad day for the 928 SL he was on.



Not the best shot but still a rockin' show. Paradise Theater was my first record that I bought by them. Tommy Shaw and James Young are the only original members at this point but they still played a tight set confirming their years of stage experience.

I opt'd not to ride on Friday because my Fun Meter was pegged from dealing with 17k riders and my sore bum. I loved hearing all the stories from the Bianchi riders that were compelled to stop by the tent and tell me how and why they are on one. Tons of love! I equally enjoyed making friends with the other demo companies, Trek, Cdale, Schwinn, Giant and the local bikes shops that provided neutral support. A big thanks to Richy Rich of Giant for letting me hop on his wheel for the last 4 miles on Wednesday. Even though the brands we all support are out there competing for corpo market share, the guys that run the tents and tech rep the trailers kindly accepted me into the fold. I'm eager to see them again at the Outdoor Demo at Interbike 2008.


Misc pix:


If you're in Iowa and see a stuffed pork chop on the menu for 15 bux, beware! I ordered this one up and ate all but the near end of grizzle. 2in thick, fillet stuffed with Apple wine dressing, cornered by sweet potato fries. I did have a salad too! The funny thing about this trip is that I lost the 7 lbs of 'rep weight' that I gained in May. How, hardly eating, 160 miles in two days, working 6-14hour days, nuff said.


Voodoo Shango. This steed is owned by the Tech guy Nic from Shimano. I was lucky to take this fun bike for a spin. XT hoops, Marzocchi fork, Megatron arm-looking rear XTR carbon derailleur and prototype hydraulic brakes. The proto brakes had a great feel. The reservoir was turned 90deg inbound, protecting the cylinder screws that usually get scraped and destroyed of you crash. I also scored a swank track jacket with the Shimano Corp logo for giving a Bianchi T-shirt to the guys. Thanks!


Mid-Western Bianchi dealer photo. This guy has great taste in bikes. Frames and completes are abound. I was in heaven looking at all the bike porn!



...sometimes when you're alone, all you do is think! On the flight heading home. I'm such an 80s sucker that I can't look out the plane window without hearing that song in my head. I missed the family big time and couldn't get home soon enough.
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s.b.
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