My first time……….. Yes, I am about to disclose my first bike riding experience on RAGBRAI! The year…2000.
You see, I had heard of RAGBRAI. Everyone in Iowa hears about RAGBRAI. What I knew was people rode their bikes across the state in a week. I wasn’t a bike rider. Oh sure, we had a couple of bikes, a couple of good old Huffys! And I could have ridden around town, if I ever felt like it. Anyway, one of my best friends working at Kum and Go, Steve Murga rode RAGBRAI. I really didn’t pay much attention. Steve would talk about RAGBRAI and how I needed to go. “NO!….I’m not wasting my vacation in Iowa to ride a bike. That’s stupid.” pretty much sums up my thoughts. After a couple of years, we finally made a “deal” and part of the deal was that I would ride one day of RAGBRAI.
Have I told you I’m a slow learner? Steve was full of good advice for my RAGBRAI experience. Like, “Mike, you need to get a bike. You don’t want to ride a Huffy all day” and “Mike, you will want to get in some training miles” and “You have to wear a helmet” YO Steve….A bike is a bike…right? And anyway, I’m in pretty good shape, we’re just going to ride a bike…gee… a helmet…really? Have I told you I’m a slow learner? In the middle of making so many bad decisions and not taking advice, I made one of the best decisions ever. I decided to ask Renae to spend the day riding with me. I didn’t know it, but one of the best ever father-daughter days was in the making.
So with our Huffys, without training and with our 2 new Target $9.99 styrofoam -plastic covered helmets (one purple and one an awful green), Garnet drove Renae and I to Greenfield. We needed to be there and ready to ride with the team by 6am. We arrive and the team is milling around, not really hurried or excited like we were. We were READY! The team had camped in the back yard of a home and each member was going about their business of getting ready. I quickly discovered that the line to the restroom in the home was quite extensive. I decided to check out the neighborhood for a KYBO because we were close to a great deal of activity and where there are people there are KYBOs. Renae decided to go with me in search of relief also.
We walked a couple of blocks and could see the backs of a long line of KYBOs …GREAT!. We walked around the end of the KYBO line and sure enough 2 people walk out and we both jump into our respective KYBOs! As I’m in there, I get a funny feeling. No not THAT feeling. You know, the feeling like something isn’t quite right with what just happened and perhaps a bazillion people are looking at you. So, as I exit, sure enough at the other end of the KYBO line is a massive (like bazillion) line of people waiting to use the KYBO. Well, ya can’t just have a do-over. So, we leave rather quickly going the direction we came from. Here is a good rule on RAGBRAI. If you want or need something, check for a line, cause most likely others want and need the same thing. Did I mention I’m a slow learner and not real observant at times?
Renae and I make it back to camp and it is decided to ride the bus a few miles so the team isn’t so far behind. After that, it’s time to ride. We start out and it’s a beautiful day! Renae and I ride side by side and visit about anything and everything. It was amazing for me and so enjoyable. except…..it starts not being so easy…and we are about 3 miles into a 50 mile ride….hey this is starting to be WORK. And we are getting passed even on the downhills. Steve finally finds us and tells me it’s the Huffy’s fault. WHAT? can’t be. a bike is a bike? right? Steve wants to trade bikes with me because he has trained and can handle (my stupidity(my words)) the huffy. What a guy! I start out on his bike and Renae and I disappear. Fast…like it is the huffy’s fault. They didn’t find us for a couple of hours.
I still didn’t believe in training. That learning curve would take a number of years to develop. But I found out the first year that I need something better than a Huffy or I needed to be Renae. Renae and I enjoyed the whole thing. People, food, country side and each other. But, I was really suffering, from what? (I found out later it is training and dehydration). I didn’t make it to Ankeny. When we got to Polk City, I quickly rode up to the bus, didn’t really stop, but rather threw the bike one way while I sprawled out sliding across the grass and stopping within a few feet of the team bus. That’s it! I’m DONE. Renae on the other hand decided to finish by riding a tandem with Steve Murga on into Ankeny. In Ankeny we found home made ice cream at the over night and I was so glad Garnet was there to give us a ride home. What a day!. Loved it and we have been back in some form each year since.
I’m thankful Steve Murga talked me into my first ride
RAGBRAI – the hardest thing you’ll ever love to do.
These are from 2004