RAGBRAI: Hill after Hill, We Pedal On

Posted by on Jul 29 in RAGBRAI

Only 66 Hills to Grinnell

As we were departing Altoona today a sign on the road said “56 Miles To Grinnell,” followed by another saying “Only 66 Hills to Grinnell.” That alone describes the day – hill, after hill, after hill (and you thought Iowa was flat!). Enroute we passed through Mitchellville, Colfax, Baxter and Rock Creek State Park.

Thursday’s RAGBRAI crowd

This summer has been characterized by high heat and humidity. We’ve been starting each day hoping that the heat would break. In Iowa there are two ways to get a big drop in temperature – winter and a rainstorm. As the former wasn’t in the forecast, we were finally blessed by lines of rain that brought down the temperature (thankfully), but added heavy wind on the nose. And onward we trudged – hill, after hill, after hill.

I’ve talked in the past about Iowa landscape – corn on the right and soybeans on the left. The farmers of the state rotate these two crops across their fields to keep the soil rich, but on occasion the soybean fields show their legacy with an odd cornstalk sprouting up. As kids, we were told this was “succotash.” I think that was a backhanded way of disguising the vegetables on the plate that night. Bike riders, corn, soybeans and succotash, mile after mile.

The vision coming out of an Iowa cornfield

Riding along today, we came upon what has to be one of the last remaining Burma-Shave signs in the country: “Don’t pass on the curve. Or on this hill. If the cops don’t get you. The Mortician will. Burma-Shave.” I think the Burma-Shave copywriters must have been the Rap Artists of their era.

RAGBRAI is a celebration of both biking and simple Americana with people bringing out every bike-related memorabilia available, and every town and family along the route turning out to celebrate and add their own piece to the uniqueness of RAGBRAI. Tomorrow’s ride is estimated to include 20,000 people moving across the state, soaking it all in. With smiles, waves and cheering from each farm, each driveway, and each neighborhood.

Enjoying a local marching band

Scenes from RAGBRAI

The outpouring of interest and concern for our efforts has been truly inspirational – THANK YOU! Only two more days and 150 miles to go! We are asking our friends to support our effort by making a tax-deductible pledge for each mile we ride for Build Our Ballpark. If we’re crazy enough to put in these miles, can’t you please throw in your support?

We’ll send along two more days of pictures – and hope you’re enjoying the time with us!

Best regards,

Bob Hellman
Build Our Ballpark Team