Monday, August 2, 2010

Remembering RAGBRAI


When we were riding on the bus back to Des Moines, I could feel that I was thinner. I was still amazingly bloated from the heat, but my belly felt slimmer. "I feel like I'm missing an entire fat roll," I said to my dad, pointing to my upper belly. He chuckled and said, "You left it on Potter Hill." Weighing myself this morning the scale showed a 6.5 loss from the morning I flew to Des Moines. Wow. Even puking my guts out with the stomach flu, I've never lost that much weight in a week.

I decide to do the Two Volcanoes Ride today. It's cool and crisp. I'm blissfully chilly in my RAGBRAI jersey and bicycle tights. I'm riding my 46-pound grocery getter because my road bike is being disassembled and shipped from Dubuque. Even still, I'm flying. I feel like a teenager as I get to Mt. Tabor and start the long climb to the top. "Potter Hill was much steeper than this," I think. Not as long, though.

I think about what I learned on RAGBRAI. I learned that no matter how fast you are someone will always be faster. No matter how slow you are, someone will always be slower. I learned that I can ride 490 miles in a week powered by only sports drinks, bananas, fruit smoothies, water, the occasional force fed meal, and (apparently) 6.5 pounds of belly fat. I had no idea I was capable of that.

I get to the top and drink some water. For the first time in my life, I'm bombing down Tabor. I don't think I'll ever be scared to ride my bike again. Just hold on, keep your wits about you. Getting passed by half a dozen cars with 3 feet clearance in 2 hours is nothing like riding with thousands of bikes going all different speeds on the giant rollers of Iowa.

I climb to the top again, this time on the more shallow Salmon side. I pass a road biker going up and feel some satisfaction because my bike is undoubtedly 30 pounds heavier than hers. I round the top and make my way over to Rocky Butte.

At a stop light a super fit road biker asks me if I'm just out for a ride. I say yes. (I must look funny in all my cycling gear on this bike with the milk crate strapped to the back). "Cool this morning, huh?" he says. "Feels great," I reply.

I get to Rocky Butte and start the slow winding ascent, through the tunnel to the top. It is misty and foggy. I hardly see a soul. At the top, I consider just calling it a morning and heading back home. That doesn't sound like me. I eat a gel, drink some water and head back down for another pass, this time on the back side. I'm glad I did. It feels good to get four big climbs in 2 days after RAGBRAI. I scream down the butte, through the tunnel and make my way home at a gentle pace.

Yesterday, sitting on my cushy couch in my cool house laughing with my extremely funny husband, it was the most relaxed I have ever been in my entire adult life. Finishing RAGBRAI and feeling the overwhelming beauty of the luxuries of home was such a release. Riding home this morning, I still feel that way and I can't wait for my next ride and my next challenge. Maybe I'll go for the next fat roll over the next month. That actually sounds like fun.

6 comments:

  1. Sarah, thanks for posting all of your experiences on your Virgin RAGBRAI (were you ever appropriately tagged?). It sounds like you discovered a lot about yourself while you endured all of the trials and tribulations. This winter you won't remember any of the hard times - only the fun you had. I've heard about people like you: on the road before sunrise. Are you crazy? Suffice to say I leave camp no earlier than 8:30, believe that between 6:00 and 8:00pm is the best time of day to ride, and don't consider it a successful RAGBRAI unless I come in on lights at least once. Some time I'll have to ride with the other side of the pack just to see what it is like! Glad you had a great time and hope you'll come back again next year!

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  2. Thanks, Chris. I never was tagged although a lot of people noticed my license plate with Portland, Oregon on it and my fenders. I must have been the only bike there with fenders. Is the traffic lighter when you leave at 8:30am? I've never seen so many bikes in my life! It sure was a trip to remember. I'm sure I'll be talking about it when I'm 60 and that it will just get better in the telling.

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  3. thanks for sharing sara! sounds like an amazing adventure

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  4. It definitely was! Thanks for reading, Ms. S.

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  5. I finally read your RAGBRAI posts. Makes me jealous. I wanted to do it this year and it would have been nice to see you and everyone else on the road

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  6. Hi Scott! Thanks for reading my blog! Congrats on being back home with your family. It's funny because the further I get away from RAGBRAI, the more I think it is a perfectly ridiculous thing to do. I'm so glad I did it, though and have even kept off the weight I lost that week. It sure is an amazing event and even out here in Portland cyclists know what it is.

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