Team BOB Starts Their 454 Mile Journey

Posted by on Jul 25 in RAGBRAI

With the past week’s reports from the Midwest describing intolerable temperatures and humidity, we had trepidation about the start of this year’s RAGBRAI ride. Luckily, the weather cooled last night (a blessing) and off we went – a 454 mile journey across the state of Iowa to raise money for America’s great pastime: baseball.

If you missed my note last week, Team BOB is a group organized by my 16-year-old son, Robert Hellman III. Robert created Team BOB as a fundraiser for Build Our Ballpark, an organization founded by his grandfather, dedicated to providing today’s youth with baseball and softball ballparks in communities struggling to maintain facilities and resources for their families and kids.

Iowa began the first day (Sunday) by handing us a picture-perfect, cloudless day. However, torrential rainfall in the past few weeks had created so much flooding along the Missouri river that we were unable to start with the traditional “dip the rear tire in the Missouri river.” Some opted for a makeshift wading pool filled with Missouri river water (after all, tradition is tradition). Our team elected to hit the road and knock down the miles.

Team BOB ready to start their 454 miles

Our team – twice the size of last year and pictured here, was largely decked out in our Build Our Ballpark attire to start our ride. Because of the success of last year’s ride, and the continuing effect of the recession on the region, we actually have city leaders and coaches in a few towns lined up to talk about their communities’ needs as we journey across the state.

The first day’s ride totaled 59 miles and 4,200 feet of vertical climbing. Starting the ride with the toughest route was a bit of a kick in the butt. In addition, Iowa forgot to get the message about the weather cooling, so by mid-day it was over 100 degrees, with a healthy dose of humidity. We lost one team member to a quad pull and another to the heat. A third dislocated his ring finger but still finished. Not a ride for the faint of heart.

What really sustained us today was the overwhelming enthusiasm of the townsfolk in the communities through which we rode. The downtown sections of Silver City, Carson, Griswold, Lewis and Atlantic all looked like they were holding big festivals. And of course, we weren’t disappointed by either the pie availability or the return of Mr. Porkchop. After all, this IS Iowa – it’s all about the pork and the pie!!

Mr. Porkchop himself

Notwithstanding the local treats, the real treat was the serenity of the miles of rolling hills and sculpted farmlands – soybeans and corn gently swaying in their crop dance to satiate the soul.

Iowa’s landscape

This ride is really a combination of summer camp and San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers – all on wheels. Every imaginable (and some unimaginable) form of human-powered transportation turns out, most of which I can’t imagine riding, especially up and down substantial hills.

One of the crazy rides we’ve seen along the route

For those of you who have so kindly pledged to support us (or bet we won’t make it?) – THANK YOU! We are asking our friends to support our effort by making tax-deductible pledges for each mile we ride for Build Our Ballpark (click here to do so). We’ll put in the miles – can you throw in your support?

More pictures and stories from the road tomorrow – thank you everyone for your support of Build Our Ballpark!

Best regards,

Build Our Ballpark Team