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RAGBRAI 2021 – No Whining!

I recently wrote a daily journal of RASDak, Ride Across South Dakota. I was shocked how many people actually read those. You have only yourselves to blame for encouraging me to take you on another ride, and this time I will be concealing my inner Eeyore and there will be NO WHINING! Well at least I hope not. I have a goal of only being my true self, “the King-o-Fun.”

Rhonda assures me it still bears a RASDak brand, but for those of you concerned, you will be happy to know my butt feels 100% healed. Compared to RASDAK, I am expecting RAGBRAI to be all downhill with tailwinds. You can be thankful that will be the last word of the week on my butt too.

The "ride to the ride" - RAGBRAI 2021
Tire dip in the Missouri to begin another Iowa coast to coast ride on RAGBRAI XVII

RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is considered in cycling circles to be the second most known cycling event in the world after the Tour de France. Compared to RASDak where our 200 cyclists effectively doubled the population of Pollock, South Dakota, RAGBRAI is a regular circus on wheels. Some communities swell by over 30,000 people. People will ride every kind of contraption in every sort of costume. While on RASDak we road all day encountering only wide spots in the road hoping to locate a convenience store pizza to eat, every imaginable food truck, Amish pie stand, and church pasta dinner will be at any given corner. Our evenings will not be consumed with counting flies on the roof of our tent because the entertainment will be endless.

Make no mistake, the forecast is hot, really hot, then super nova hot. I have done two RAGBRAI’s and live on the Missouri River Bluffs, so I am also well aware it is a myth that Iowa is flat. Nothing, however, can compare to those long endless hills in northern South Dakota and if history repeats itself the prevailing winds are largely from the southwest this time of year. There are some headwinds forecast, but I am optimistic we will not face 35 mile an hour headwinds every day.

The Ride to the Ride

Because 500 miles is not enough and dipping our tires in a tank of Missouri River water in Le Mars was not satisfactory for us purists who want the true Iowa coast to coast experience, a group of Siouxland Cyclists dipped our tires in the Missouri by the boat ramp in Sioux City at 7:00 AM Saturday and set off on a 37-mile circuitous pre-ride to the official starting point in Le Mars. There were 24 of us that left at a casual pace. Already in our small group I've met people from Montana, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia, and of course Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota. There will be 100 people traveling with my club, Siouxland Cyclists, from all over the country.

On my first full RAGBRAI in 2018 I learned a 50-mile ride to the start point is called a medio fondo. At our midpoint food and refreshment stop in Salix, we ran into a group who had bicycled 8 days from Kalamazoo, Michigan to reach the start in Onawa. If 50 miles is a medio fondo, what do you call that? “An are you crazy fondo?”

The official Route is 454 miles, but with this pre-day, some optional loops, and tooling around the towns, I expect to do about 550 miles in the 8 days. This is similar to RASDak. I have logged about 2000 miles so far in 2021 preparing for this week.

Along the route there was little traffic, and no one was there to sell us pancakes, porkchops, or pies. As we came into Le Mars, it was clear that our quiet solitude was over, but our food choices were nearly limitless. In Le Mars, the population swelled by an estimated additional 20,000 of my closest friends.

After setting up and taking advantage of my uncle and aunts Shower within eyesight of my tent, I walked downtown. There I met up with lots of people I knew from my club and church.

Along the way I walked into the local Art center to view the Art and frankly take advantage of the AC. There I met a family from Kalona Iowa who were working on some art projects. Yes, I love the rides and the views but the social aspect of RAGBRAI cannot be overestimated.

Downtown I talked to a man from Iran on his 10th RAGBRAI. Are Donald Trump and Joe Biden too old to do this? Peace through peddle power?

I bought some bargain things at one of the vendors. Not sure where I'll put it or even if it will fit. A lot of RAGBRAI is gear management, living out of 2 totes with camping gear, biking gear, off bike clothes, toiletries etc. I even got one of those goofy biker hats. Relax honey it was free.

I hate to be redundant for those that followed my RASDak ride, but I once again ate a burrito the size of a small football. Look at the pic. I couldn't even squeeze it into the frame. For the record it was a veggie burrito, so I'll rationalize it as somewhat healthy. I did successfully bulk up a few pounds pre-ride. I expect to burn 2500 - 5500 calories a day. My craving for ice cream would go unsatisfied. The line to the Well's Visitor Center and Ice Cream Parlor was out the door and down the street.

Right now I'm taking in one of the many bands playing continuously.

Thanks for joining me on the ride. I hope to write a short piece every day. Of course, I'm dependent on stamina, mechanical issues, and cell service. In South Dakota it was a long way between towns and cell service. In Iowa there are plenty of towns and cell towers but when towns of under 1000 people get 30,000 guests, the towers tend to be overwhelmed.

Today was likely our easiest day. Tomorrow looks to be the second toughest. Expect a more succinct blog.

Todd Moss

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