Final Comments

I did my best to calibrate our speedometer and it says we did:
291.68 miles traveled
10.3 mph averaged speed
34 mph maximum speed

I'm sorry I didn't update my blog every night. When I had Internet access, I was too tired to use it. When I didn't have Internet access, I was thankful for not having to post because I was too tired to do it anyway.

I finally got to see what my videos looked like. I'm sorry that all you see is the bottom of bikers sitting on their bikes. The camera was mounted at a 90 degree angle; it should have been more like 40 degrees but I just didn't get to test and confirm all my configurations before we left for the trip. Next time, I hope to have better streaming options, more battery power, better sound quality, and better pictures.

I found the Adventure Cycling article. We're on the third page. It's at:

Over the next few days, I'll transition the edited version of my videos from to my website for permanent storage.

Ride to the finish in Le Claire!

We actually get out of bed around 5:15 am, we pack, we eat some breakfast in town, and we're off for the last leg of the trip around 6:30 am.

I'm told that we have a tail wind today but I can't really tell it. The wind seems to still be hitting us head-on but pedaling does seem easier. There are a few down hills that we get up to 32 miles per hour. Of course, the up hills are still 3 miles per hour.

Leaving so early in the morning, we see new people on route. Most of them are curious as to why they haven't seen us earlier in the week... Our response is, "Normally, we'd just be getting out of bed right now."

One guy slows down to talk with us for about 30 minutes. He is an English teacher in China. His frustrations with America mirrors a friend of ours over in Korea. He talks about how inefficient we are, how wasteful we are, how territorial we are, etc. He can't wait to go back in 3 weeks. I really admire the people who say "I don't like this country... I'm going to leave!" And does it! Most people just complain when they don't get their way but they'd rather stay and be miserable than to actually change their surroundings for THEIR peace of mind. (Well, if they're around me then it's MY peace of mind.)

Here's the irony of our talk with the English teacher. When talking about waste, he gave an example how he picked up and ate a half eaten pork chop which some other rider had discarded. At the next stop, Serena and I were hungry so we decided to have a foot long corny dog from this mobile vendor in Argo. They were in some kind of Weinerschizel trailer, or something similar. This looked like a family business. The guy taking the orders was using his bare hands, taking the money, giving out change, and handling the food. (And I did notice how his hands were blacker and dirtier than mine!) But I was hungry and as long as he didn't touch my food, I was fine... Unfortunately, he did touch our two corny dogs with his dirty hands. When I commented on it, the "father" or the person who looked in charge, kind of hid his head and wasn't willing to deal with the problem. Of course, the guy behind the counter just put the two corny dogs back in the bin and handed us new ones. I'm sure he'll serve them to the next unsuspecting RAGBRAI rider. I wish I wasn't hungry; I wish I wasn't tired; otherwise, I would have had fun being a jerk, throwing fit, and making him wash his hands for 3 minutes like Serena teaches me.

After we left, Serena commented to me that I had a problem with these same people, doing the same thing, last year. Grrrr...

The end of the ride was in Le Claire. Some of the RAGBRAI posts imply that there is friction between the city and the RAGBRAI event. Well, compared to last year, this was a complete let down. No big welcome into the city. Poor organization to dip your tire in the Mississippi. No where safe to pack for our ride back to Des Moines. (We packed on the side of a 4 lane highway.)

No one or nothing seems to please me today except that we got to the end.

I'm still glad with did the ride with the Tall Dog bike group; they were the best part of the week.

If I go back, I'm definitely putting a motor on the trike!

SAG day... but not by choice.

Friday morning we're up; we're off; we've even got a shortcut planned. We want to get into the next camp site early because the Tall Dog bike group has a Friday night dinner starting at 7 pm and we don't want to miss it.

About 10 miles into the ride, my tire goes flat... AGAIN! This time the tire needs to be replaced, not just the tube. The tire is all torn up so I figure that it was that gravel road from last night that did all the damage. The tire on Serena's side doesn't look much better. This is something that I can't fix out here in the middle of nowhere. We stand around about 3 minutes trying to figure out what to do and then, here comes the SAG wagon! Instead of 2 miles to the next city, I'm thinking it's 12 miles and we'll miss our shortcut; we'll gain two hours on riding but surely lose them at the next town standing in line to get the tire fixed.

At the next town, I ask all the mobile bike shops if they have a tire. Nope! Nothing! And they suggest that I go to Cedar Rapids for a replacement! That's 30 miles away and I'm trying to figure out how I'm suppose to get there with a busted trike/tire!

We decide to continue riding the SAG wagon. Most people can ride the SAG wagon with anonymity; their bike looks like every other bike on route and when their bike gets put on the SAG trailer, no body knows the wiser. But our trike is so different from the rest of the bikes, that everyone knows we're SAGging. Some of our team members grin from ear to ear when they see our trike. Some people laugh. Some of the Stop Alots even stuck their head in the SAG wagon to get a chuckle!

Every town we come to, I get out to check the mobile bike repairs and no one has my size tire! Serena and I formulate a plan where she hitchhikes to Cedar Rapids to get a tire. But the driver of the SAG wagon says "Insurance Rules state that no one can get off the SAG wagon after it fills." Of course, this is bull; he is just tired of stopping in every city for me to ask for a tire; I can tell he's getting agitated with me. Since I obviously don't have any control over our destiny here, I decide to just be a jerk and begin throwing a fit. I'm sure he was glad to get rid of me in Tipton which was the end of the route for the day.

So now I walk down to the row of vendors of bike shops. I'd guess there are about 12 of them and I ask everyone for a tire in my size. Most immediately they say "No! Sorry." Two actually look through their stock but don't have a tire for us. I have 3 off these tires at home and are now wishing I brought them; I just figured it would be easy to find one of these tires in the middle of thousands of bikes!

I'm standing there thinking... How do we get the trike to the end of the route tomorrow? or, Do we go straight back to Des Moines now? Do we leave the trike here and walk 1.3 miles to our camp? Then, one of the bike shop owners just happens to be walking by me. His sales people didn't have an answer for me when I asked 10 minutes earlier. I rattled off my tire size and he said, "It's going to be a knobby tire!" I said, "I don't care as long as it's sort-of round." Turned out, this was the guy who fixed our first flat earlier in the week. We tried to buy a backup tire for Serena's side but he only had one with him; I hope we make it through to the Mississippi tomorrow without problems...

The rest of the day was spent looking around Tipton, sleeping on the trike (I wish a had a picture of us,) having dinner with the Tall Dog group, and going to bed early because tomorrow we've got to get up at 5 am.

Two flats on our longest day of the week

It rains all night and only stops long enough for us to take down the tent and get ready for the day. Because of the flat tire the previous day, I decide that I should check my tire pressure. As I do, the valve stem breaks, the tire doesn't hold air, and it starts to rain...

This guy, who allowed our group to pitch camp on his property, left his garage open to us all night long. Serena and I moved the trike into the garage and began changing the tire. Two hours later, we're finished with the tire and finally on our way... in the rain.

The first town of the day is about 17 miles into the route. At the 15 mile mark, I look down and the same tire from this morning is flat! Just as I realize this, I notice the SAG Wagon pass us by. I jump off the trike and run down the street waving my arms! Thank God he saw us, he stopped, and gave us a ride 2 miles to the town. The mobile bike shop guy couldn't see anything wrong with the tube so it is assumed that I pinched the tube when putting it back on. When he finishes, and we're ready to leave town, it's 12:30 pm. We've got 60 miles to go and we're so far behind the typical riders.

Through the rest of the day, people are approaching us asking if we've been drinking and partying in all the small towns; that's the only reason they can think of because we're so late. So, we tell them about our day and waste more time that could be spent getting to our destination. The whole day, Serena keeps saying that she's having fun, we're not on a schedule, and it doesn't matter when we get in. I wish I was as easy going and had her optimism...

Between Serena and me on the trike is a speaker and my phone. They are both mounted on support rods. Please often ask what they are and if we are video taping the ride. The answer is... Unfortunately, not much. We've been prioritizing the ability to listen to music over the web streaming. Streaming uses my battery power like crazy. And the few times I've tried, I can't really keep a good cell phone signal.

The people who are now use to seeing us on route have one specific question to ask each day... What kind of fishnet stocking is Serena wearing today? I don't like anything touching my skin while I'm sweating/pedaling. Instead, Serena is having fun wearing fishnets, tutoos, and corsets in the heat.

The Tall Dog group has a tendency to camp way outside of town. By the time we get to North Liberty, it's about 9:30 pm. I'm starving but Serena is not even hungry; I've eaten more today than she has! So we stop for dinner and then head out to find our campsite. The instructions tell us to go WAY outside of the city. (A mile outside of the city which is a long way on a bike, at night, when your tired, and you passed everyone else's camp site.) The instructions take us on some terrible gravel road up and down hills. I spin my tires. Cars pass us going 50 creating a cloud of dust for us to inhale. Eventually, we get back to pavement and discover there was a much shorter, safer, paved route, that we could have taken... if only I would have looked at Google maps more closely and not followed the Tall Dog instructions.

Now, following Google maps, we should take the next right. But the name on the street, doesn't match. Google doesn't match. Okay, so we ride on. The next street on the right has no name. Google doesn't seem to know it exists. And to go on, means climbing another hill! So, we climb another hill. Finally, the third street is correct and we get into camp about 11:15 pm.

I am looking forward to this camp location because the people whose land we're staying on has a pool and hot tub. People are coming back from the hot tub and saying how good they feel. Great! I'm looking forward to it right after I get the tent setup. But when I head over there about mid-night, the hot tub controls are locked... I hate this day.

We are getting passed by everyone...

Today I'm tired. Today I don't want to be pedaling. Today everyone is passing us and we can't stay up with anyone no matter how hard we try. I think we're just tired from yesterday. Yesterday, everyone else was tired from the day before; that's why we could keep up.

Someone had thrown tacks out on the highway on the RAGBRAI route. (Read more about the tacks here.) Lots of people were getting flats. But not us! Until State Center. We ride into town, Serena and I walk around a bit, we get this REALLY BIG rib-eye sandwich, and head back to the trike. As I sit down, someone says, "You have a flat." Grrr... We spend the next 2 hours getting it fixed at the mobile bike shop. (Mobile bike shops setup along the route usually in each city; some cities have one mobile bike shop, some have more.) What surprised me is that the flat only cost $10 to fix! That's cheaper than at home!

Sometime throughout the rest of the day, Serena buys this energy drink. I decide to taste it. Yuck! It initially tastes horrible but after a few sips, it becomes tolerable. Before I know it, I have all this energy. I feel great! And, my attitude changes to happiness and optimism. Because of this, we do well the rest of the day and get in around 8 pm.

Now comes dinner... Gary is trying to order pizza and various people are throwing in money. Unfortunately, the pizza places don't want to deliver; they are busy enough with the customers in their restaurant. At about 10 pm, we realize that pizza is a hopeless cause so Gary and I go to this little bar for food. As outsiders, we stand out. Everyone there knows that we're riders and they treat us pretty well. There's band playing polka music, the locals are having a ball dancing, and the food only cost 4$ for good burger and fry’s.

Just as Gary and I got back to our tents, it starts to rain.

We're passing people on our first day riding!

We're off for our first day of riding. The day is a short ride at 58 miles and with only an 1100 foot climb total. We are either staying up with people or passing them. I'm beginning to wonder what it was that I was so worried about...

Some people ride by and say "Oh, your back for another year on the couch." But most people are in awe of the trike and ask the same typical questions... "How do you steer?" "Who's driving right now?" "Do y'all have to pedal together?" etc.

There are a few people that actually slowdown and talk to us. A couple of people actually called us by name and I don't have any idea who they were. One guy drafted for about 10 miles and talked with us the entire time. (Because he was behind us, I don't think I even saw his face.) The trike is different enough to make us popular; if we didn't have the trike, no one would know us.

Tuesday night, we kind of get cornered into going to some dive bar for chilly. It was okay chilly, it satisfied our hunger for the moment, but was nothing to write home about. (Ops, I think I just did...)

After the chilly, we were taken down to the concert area where STYX was playing. It was nowhere near our campground and our ride left us there. We weren't too excited about going to the concert but since we were there, and it would be a long hike/hitchhike back to our campground, we decided to go in. Fortunately, we ran across a group of Tall Dogs also attending the show; we were able to get a ride back with them. They were quite fun to hang with, when they weren't up directly in front of the stage.

While trying to find food to supplement the chilly, I started talking to one person who suggested a Mexican food stand. I then notice Team Stop Alots hanging out nearby and I mentioned to him... "Hey! I attended their head shaving party this past Saturday." The turns to me and said... "I know; I was there!" I'm so embarrassed! All these names and faces in one week... I think it was Mark I was talking to.

It's going to be wet setting up!

We're driving out to Jefferson on Monday evening to meet up with our bike team the Tall Dog. As we're riding, it's just pouring rain. I'm so depressed and I'm setting my expectations to set the tent and trike up in the rain.

Just as we drive into town, the sun comes out and the rain clears up! Still, the humidity is so high that the tent gets soaked from just being outside but it does it's job and keeps us dry throughout the night.

From the moment we show up, team members are approaching us calling us by name, and act excited that we've been able to join them! One person even tells us about a picture of Serena and me on the Ricksycle published in a respected magazine, Adventure Cycling. We're told it's an excellent picture and takes up almost half a page! I want to see this. I'm going to be looking through all the magazine articles when I get home.

Serena and I go downtown with some of the Tall Dogs to listen to the local band. When we get back, I find a paper bag with our Tall Dog t-shirts, jerseys, bandannas, and even socks! Serena says she's going to make a top out of our bandannas.

We're starting RAGBRAI late

We're sitting at the dinner table with Serena's brother's family and his boss, Dick. (Aka. Dr Dick, has taken us snow skiing and ridden with us on RAGBRAI last year; well, more like he blew our socks off.) The subject of a hair cut party came up. It seems that a group of people are gathering at Dr. Dick's house to cut each other's hair on Saturday night, or something like that. I'm thinking... What hair? Between Kenny & Dr. Dick, they only have about 2.5 millimeters of hair so I don't know what there is to cut off. Now, Serena's getting excited about the idea of going bald again.

Even if Serena shaves her head, this party sounds like a good reason to miss the first couple of days of RAGBRAI! Those couple of days are the hard steep climbing days which I'm fearing the most. Ashley, Serena's Sister-n-Law, said she'd take us to Jefferson on Monday afternoon so we can start riding on Tuesday morning. So, expect the earliest that I'll stream or capture video will be 3 pm on Tuesday.