I’ve mentioned before that I can be a nervous wreck when it comes to riding my bike. You have to depend so much on the unpredictable (cars, road conditions, other riders) and I tend to get nervous about what I can’t control. I debated back and forth about whether to sign up or not for this ride (3000 people on bikes on 1 trail is A LOT), but ultimately I figured this was the best opportunity to get better at riding in groups… plus, BACON.
Well, it turned out to be a blast!!
The ride was 71 miles (actually more like 74 according to my Garmin) and every 10 miles or so, a town would host a bacon stop. You show your PassPORK and they stamp it and give you a bacon snack! My favorite was the bacon sundae, but they also had things like bacon donuts, bacon samples, BLT, Bacon cheeseburger and bacon tacos.
And even though there was 3,000 riders, it didn’t seem like it. The starting line wasn’t a mass start, so you could choose when you wanted to begin the ride anytime between 7am and 10am. We started almost right at 7am (which was a good choice thanks to the rain that hit us towards the end).
Each town really went all out for the ride. There were other fundraisers, food, drinks, music and a party at each stop. Paul and I definitely took advantage of the local beers some towns had on tap.. and we had THE BEST ice cream sandwich with bacon ice-cream and molasses cookie (though it was crazy melted).
The ride itself was a great time. It took place on the Raccoon River Valley Trail which is this AWESOME trail system nearby Des Moines, IA. The entire trail (with the exception of some of the gravel road crossings) was paved and had gorgeous scenery (if you love blue skies and green corn fields as much as I do :-D). I really wish we had this trail system by us. 70 miles on a SINGLE trail. Awesome. This would have been much nicer than the airport road I used for Ironman training (a 4 mile loops = 25 laps for 100 miles, lol).
The directors of this ride are the ones that also coordinate RAGBRAI, a week-long race that stretches all the way across Iowa, which I’ve always wanted to do. After this ride, I am 100 times more excited about RAGBRAI. People, bikes, beer and food… pretty much all my favorite things 😀 I just need to figure out a way to finagle an extra week of vacation at work.
The weather was supposed to rain all day, but it managed to hold off until about 2:30. We had just finished the last stop (SO thankful that I got my bacon sundae in time :-P) and it started to downpour! We thought we were only 1 mile from the parking lot, but it ended up being closed to 3 miles and it was raining SO hard. We were soaked to the bone by the time we got to the car, but thankful that we managed to finish! Also happy that Paul’s Honda Element is all plastic so we could just toss everything muddy into the back of his car and clean it out later 😀 😀
I am definitely in for this race next year again. And hopefully the full RAGBRAI sometime soon! I’ve been trying to find another group ride that sounds fun (and there are plenty), but I think this ride spoiled me with the paved trail.. a lot of rides (especially in Kansas) are on more rural roads that I don’t trust as much… but I’m getting more confident on my bike. The Raccoon River Valley Trail was super flat, but this weekend is Kansas 5150 Triathlon, so we will see how the hills treat me 😀