Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Everybody's Got a Bomb, We Could All Die Any Day. But Before I Let That Happen, I'll Dance My Life Away.



Oh, kids. I suck at blogging lately. I still have one more OOBRAI/RAGBRAI post to write and then there's all kinds of stuff that's gone on in the last two months that I have yet to write about too. Of course, we're going to Madison on Thursday, so I don't know how much I'll get to before then, but I will do my damnedest.

In the meantime, as you can see above, I'm keeping myself busy by continuing to be obnoxious and ridiculous and amusing myself at any cost.

Photo credt - Russ Ellis' Instagram.

Jingle CX was this past weekend and we had a blast...All except that time John crashed riding really fast down a hill. Luckily no one was harmed while making this photograph.

I promise to try to be better about posting and I hope you all are having fun out there too.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Thank You For Being a Friend


So, last weekend we went to Mason City for a bike race. We decided to drive the 10 miles to Clear Lake to eat dinner at the place we drank at during OOBRAI, where the owner so graciously offered to give John a ride to a bike shop. We like to put our money where are mouths are...Wait. That doesn't sound right.

Anyway, I sent a group text of the above photo to John and some of our other friends and captioned it: Look! We're making drunk friends.

Then John responded: No. We're drunk. They're working for tips.

Ha ha ha ha ha. Sometimes the truth is hilarious.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Right, Wrong. I Just Can't Stop It.



On the third day, we were finally going to catch up with RAGBRAI. First, we had to get John's wheel situation rectified. He called the bike shop in Clear Lake and they said they could help him. So, he rode out to them and they set him up with a new wheel and we were ready to go.


We only had about 56 miles or so to ride, which seemed like nothing after the last couple of days, but the shorter distance was welcomed by all of us after the treacherous day before.

The biggest problem for me, was that I was getting a migraine. I tried to take some Advil to see if that would help, to no avail. We stopped at a Casey's in a small town that had lush grass and lovely shade trees behind it. I told the gang that I needed to take migraine meds and rest a little while. They were very sweet and just fine with it. After about an hour, I felt much better. The meds meant I couldn't ride very fast for the next 24 hours, but at least my head wasn't splitting.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. We met our RAGBRAI group in a little town called Algona.


Our RAGBRAI friends are lovably goofy. In the photo above, Bry forgot his helmet and picked up an alternative one....

I was so exhausted from migraine and my meds, so I basically ate and went to sleep.


The next day we were in full-on RAGBRAI. It meant that we wouldn't have to hitch rides if anything happened to our bikes, there would be tons of stuff to do, but we would be surrounded by thousands of people all day. Sigh.


I was still pretty weak from my migraine meds, but I had a good time and the beer tent sold root beer as well. So, I was happy.

We rode and ate and played and made it to Clear Lake. It was only a 54 mile day, so we had enough energy to hang at the show at night.


The Wailers played. Of course, it wasn't the real Wailers. I saw Bunny Wailer in 1986 at the Oakland Coliseum. This may have been a grandson or just people who sounded like the Wailers. The music was good, but after a while I started to feel that bad vibe. You know, the one where people are getting too drunk and pushing people in the crowd and it just starts to feel weird?...So, I asked John if he wanted to take off and we headed to the lake where we could still hear the music, but weren't engulfed by drunk people.


It was supposed to storm the next morning. Which meant a lot of riders got up really early in the morning to try to out ride it, or didn't ride at all. We didn't worry about it. We got up at the normal time and headed to Charles City.

The clouds started to roll in early on our ride, so we thought we'd try to make it to a breakfast burrito and coffee place and "ride" out the storm at the farm there.


It started raining just about the minute we got our food and coffee. We holed-up in a dilapidated barn with some other riders.

When the storm started to let-up, the farmer who's barn we were hanging out in, walked past us and said, "Yeah. That's a pig barn..." and pointed back to the clean, dry, garage where several other riders were waiting out the storm. Oops!


It sprinkled here and there, but we decided to ride on to the next town where we saw several of our group. The photo above is of John and one of his best friends since high school. They have been doing RAGBRAI for 20 years together.


The coolest thing about the bad weather, was that there were hardly any people riding that late in the day, so there were very few lines and we didn't even have to get off our bikes and walk through towns like we normally do. Best of all, there was a cool pond swing.

We talked my brother into doing it (which wasn't hard at all). Then when it was his turn to get up to the platform we all chanted, "Uncle Bill! Uncle Bill! Uncle Bill!" The guy who was talking to people and getting them set up on the swing said to my brother, "Okay, Uncle Bill. Here's how it's gonna go..." Hilarious.


What I did discover that day was that I must have done a lousy job of washing my legs at that splash pad on the 2nd day of OOBRAI, because the weird itchy blisters were all over me. They have left some nice scars after the blisters cleared up. So, there's that...


We met up with some of our team and were riding through a town, when we spotted two other teammates sitting on a bench with a 12 pack of PBR. I guess that meant we were stopping.


It was actually a good thing we did. We found hula hoops and the boys played a game where they handed each other beer and tried not to mess with their hula hooping. None of them seemed very good at it.


When we finally got back on the road, we passed a woman who rode with her dog on her back the entire week. His name was Zazoo and he seemed to love the experience.


Our last stop of the day was at the Craft Brew tent. They had bags (corn hole, if you're from Iowa) and sting rays (why?) in these tubs for people to look at and beer, of course.


We all played frisbee and because our friends are assholes, it all degenerated into some kind of tackle game where you try to keep your friends from catching the frisbee. Apparently, we play a lot of weird games.

We did finally make it to Charles City and stayed with some lovely people. As I've said before, there are parts of RAGBRAI that can be hard for me, but the fun adventure days always make up for those things.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Wonder of Wonders, Miracle of Miracles


Okay. So, now we're on day number two of OOBRAI. Thanks to Chelsea, Burne and John for any of their photos I used. We had a lovely evening and the next morning, my brother joined us. We'll just call him Uncle Bill. And then there were five...


We knew we had a long ride ahead of us, but from the git-go things started to go wrong. I will call this our day of getting thwarted. Don't get me wrong, this day was epic, but it was hard. Of course, from a month away, I mostly just think of it as a wild adventure, but at the time, we were all pretty roughed-up from the day.


This picture above was my first mistake. We had some leftover pizza and everybody ate it while I was in the bathroom and I didn't go back in to get some real food before we took off. D-U-M, dumb.

We weren't going to eat lunch until we got to the town of Hampton and that was going to be almost 70 miles in, but, of course, it was a lot farther than that after everything went to shit with our route...


At first the trails were lovely, we thought we'd have about 30 miles of them, according to Google maps.


After a while, the beautiful trails got ugly. We thought we might be able to go around the bad parts, but quickly realized the trail was all bad parts.


We went out to the road next to the trail and then took a wrong turn...Or really, took a wrong straight, when we were supposed to turn. It got us onto this VERY low maintenance road.


It was beautiful, but it was all sand and some of it had giant puddles on either side. I thought it was a lot of fun to ride.


We figured out we were going the wrong way and hit a gravel road to get us back on course. I always bring dog treats, because there are usually more dogs on gravel than paved roads, and I'd rather distract them with a treat than have to kick them away from my bike when they come at me.


It also means I get to make friends with some very fine creatures, like Kiera here. She was a good girl. Her human stopped mowing his ditch and came over to talk to us. When I asked him if it was okay to give her a treat, he said, "Sure. And you'll probably be able to convince her to rob a bank with you after you give it to her too..."I would happily rob a bank if it meant I could hang out with Kiera more.


We hit the small town of Clarksville and headed back out to the next set of trails that we hoped wouldn't be ripped up.


So far so good, we thought...


Until we looked across the highway at what was supposed to be our trail.


We headed down ANOTHER gravel road to see if we could connect to this illusive "trail" that Google Maps assured us existed.


Welp, This strip of shoulder high weeds was the "trail". We think what happened was that at some point, people thought they were going to make a great multi-use rails to trail and they ripped up the old railroad tracks, but then either ran out of interest or money or both and it all went to hell. We had no other way to go, so we soldiered on.


After riding way too long through thistle, and burrs and poison ivy and wild parsnip, John said he heard a road. So, we picked our bikes up over the barbed wire fence to see if we could find a more pleasant riding experience.


What we really found was a feedlot. The farmer who owned it probably had every right to shoot us for hopping over the fence onto his property, but he only waved to us when he saw us and his dog gave us quite a fierce show, until I threw a treat his way. Then he grabbed it and trotted off after his human.

We wondered if other people had bailed on the non-existent trail onto his property before.


We rode a gravel road into the next town where, wonder of wonders, I found a splash pad. I tried my best to wash off any of the bad oils from the poison ivy and wild parsnip, but I didn't have any soap.

We did, however, have better luck with roads after we gave up the trail. we were on our way to the town of Hampton, when I lost every last ounce of my energy. We were going up a hill and I kept fading. We happened to be on a road with a narrow shoulder, so it was harder for anyone to look back and see that I had dropped. I realized that I was bonking - it's a term that means I didn't have enough fuel and it makes a person overly emotional and tired and stoooopid. I stopped myself, set my bike down on the side of the road, sat down in a ditch and dug around in my bags for some food. I have no idea what the motorists must have thought when they drove past me, crying and shoving food into my mouth.

I finally had enough fuel and strength to get back on my bike and head up the rest of the hill. When I was almost at the top, I saw John coming back to find me. He said he asked Burne where I was, since he was the last in line and Burne said he had no idea. So, John rode with me and we met the rest of our group at a nice, shady park and we all made a big point to eat plenty of food before we took off again.


We finally hit the town of Hampton and found a great Mexican restaurant. We ate lunch at about 3:30 and headed out for the last 40 or so miles left.

About 5 to 10 miles out, John realized he broke a spoke. It was on his drive train side, so he couldn't fix it on the road. A person can usually ride with a broken spoke, but it can also upset the balance of the whole wheel and break more and more spokes. John told us he would just see how far he could get, since we only had 26 miles left before we hit Clear Lake. Five minutes after he said that, most of the spokes on his wheel broke all at once. Crap! Since John couldn't ride his bike like that, his plan was to try to hitch a ride to Clear Lake, while we rode on. My brother joked, "Don't put-out unless you have to..." har har har, but I was really worried. I wondered what the odds would be that John would find someone to give him and his bike a 26 mile ride to Clear Lake, and then drive 26 miles back to where they lived on a Sunday evening.

On top of all that, my brother started having real problems with cramps. We also realized that Google Maps was trying to tell us to ride a gravel road the 26 miles. Burne was smart enough to say, "Eff that!" and find us a nice quiet paved road back to Clear Lake...If only Uncle Bill could get over his cramping. Burne's girlfriend had some electrolyte tablets and Uncle Bill tried those. They seemed to do the trick and we pedaled on. A little later, I got a text from John with a photo of a van and he said he got a ride from a guy who would take him to Clear Lake. I was glad he took the photo, in case the guy was a serial killer.


We finally made it to Clear Lake, about 114 miles, many issues and 12 hours after we started. John had run to the store and bought some beer for us. He had also checked out places to eat and drink in town on a Sunday night. We went to a place called the Surf District. The owner was closing but he told us to come in anyway. He was a great guy. He told John he'd be happy to take him to the next town in the morning to get his bike fixed.

We had a beer and then headed over to the pizza place and ate dinner. By the time we went to bed, we were all exhausted. It had been a rough day for all of us. The next day we would ride to meet up with RAGBRAI, at least if we could get John's wheel squared away...

Monday, August 28, 2017

I Just Turn Around and You're By My Side

Flowers from our garden.
I'm interrupting my OOBRAI posts in order to bring you this special announcement. I had my one year after my lumpectomy mammogram and check-up and everything looked good. Whew! I have another couple of years to meet with the oncologist and if those are clean, I'll go back to normal check-ups. As usual, John was a rock for me while I was stressing out last week. I am so lucky in so many ways...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Here Comes Your Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown


Hey, since it's getting close to the end of August, I thought I'd FINALLY write about OOBRAI/RAGBRAI.

It was eight days of riding, eating, drinking, minor nervous breakdowns, imaginary bike trails, pond swings, and run-ins with wild parsnip, and laughing with friends and kin. In other words, a fun Summer adventure.


The first day we rode from Iowa City to Waterloo, Iowa, mostly on bike trails. We had to bring bags on our bikes, but we only needed clothes, a few supplies and toiletries, since we were staying in hotels the first couple of days.


The bike trails were nice for the first part. We did have to fight off some wild life and I got to see a baby skunk for the first time in my life. Fortunately, we didn't scare him or piss him off, since we all smelled bad enough by the end of the day without getting sprayed by a baby skunk.


We made it quite a ways before we ran into some closed spots on the trail. Other people had gone around it so there was some single track trail to take. It was just hard to ride on with the heavy bags on our bikes. More adventure!


I also ran into some more cows in water this week. They thought I was weird, but didn't give me much grief. I did tell them I loved them I got the feeling they weren't all that impressed.


We finally made it to Brandon, Iowa. It was a cute little town but had the saddest gas station/convenience store I've ever been in. There was very little stock and what there was, seemed like it had gone long past its expiration date. The woman running the shop was one of the many cranky, old, curmudgeons with a heart of gold.


The most exciting thing about Brandon, Iowa is that it was the home of the World's Largest Frying Pan! You know how much I love kitsch. So, we took a bunch of goofy photos and got back on the trail.


Not long after, we found a beautiful field of wildflowers. Since John and will probably never have a real honeymoon, this was going to have to do.


Just before we got to La Porte City, we were all starting to fade a bit. We stopped at a park and found a pretty gazebo. You know you've been riding with your friends too long when you all sit as far apart as possible when you stop to even get a semblance of alone time.

The trail closed right after this area and there was no way around it but to ride on the road for a bit and find the trail down a ways.


Lucky for us, that road took us to ice cream. I blueberry shake was just what the doctor ordered.


We rode past a cool old gas station and hooked back up on the trail.

After 98 miles, we finally hit Waterloo. We were all exhausted, but glad that we made it.


Our hotel was in an area where there were just a bunch of other hotels, but there was a bar/restaurant across the street and they had lovely fired chicken and beer there. The good thing about riding 98 miles is that you can eat and drink whatever you want (at least in my head you can). Our bartender was another old curmudgeon. He practically threw our beers at us at first, but then we talked to him for a bit and he was very funny and nice. Iowans...


Our hotel didn't have a bar, but they had a little store where we could buy beer. They also had a nice patio. We had one more beer before we all hit the hay. I fell asleep immediately. I knew the next day was going to be at least 106 miles and I wanted to be ready for it. If it was going to be anything like this day, we would need our rest, but we'd have so much to look forward too...