Bragging rights, take two

August 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

My goal was to take a 21st century twist on RAGBRAI this year – tweet about my experience, and tell the story through my tweets. I can be pretty clever, I think. I crack myself up most of the time, what better way to tell my story of biking across a state, for the third time, through blips of 140 characters or less? I must have forgotten that 3G service doesn’t exist in most of Iowa; my little internet man on the top left corner was just a circle the whole time, so I was alone, in the state, disconnected, in airplane mode. Silly Becca, you should have known.

“why this coach bus feels obligated to play all three Bourne movies, I have no idea. #ragbraiXLI #pbv” – oolretaw, twitter

Saturday at 1 am, we (Dad, myself, Scott Kieser) take the car from River Forest to Council Bluffs, Iowa. It’s at the corner of Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, 3.5 hours away. We arrive at Pork Belly Ventures (five star camping, y’all) at 6 a.m. to be picked up and driven across Iowa in about 6 hours. There I am FORCED to listen to three Bourne movies in a row. Luckily I was happily connected to the interweb, for the last time, where I instagrammed the most important scenery, my kindle and lap, and fell into podcast land listening to Roman Mars. It was also then that I decided to start yet another book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. Highly recommended.

“catching up with @romanmars last few episodes on an overly air conditioned coach bus driving across Iowa. life is cold, but good.” oolretaw, twitter

“tent 269, just like my office phone extension number.” oolretaw, twitter

We arrive in Council Bluffs on a large casino parking lot to the familiar heat, long register lines, our beloved tent city (tent 269!), searching through hundreds of bikes to find the three of ours, unpack, and then I start to breathe heavily while realizing biking across Iowa is my only way of getting home. Who signed me up for this again?

After that tweet, the ride had started the next morning and I put my phone away. This was my vacation, and I was for sure going to make the most of it. The corn was looking great, I had a new bike, brooks saddle (aw yeah!) and my mini Chicago flag waving behind me reminding me of my roots. You’d be surprised how many people DON’T know what the Chicago flag is. Don’t worry, I told them.

Please refer to my old post for my mix of emotions happening during the week. I’ll admit, this year was hard. Mind you – it was cooler and shorter, but exposure to sun, too much pie, and plenty of Iowan corn can put you in a haze. Mileage was 48, 86, 50, 50, 52, 52, 63. After I looked at my odometer, I biked a total of 412 miles. Somehow it all adds up.

Now, there are plenty of ways to do RAGBRAI*. So many shapes, sizes, ages, I believe the numbers got up to 15,000 people this year. Some ways to RAGBRAI include beer gardens, others don’t. Some include late nights listening to women in their mid 50’s singing covers to their favorite songs until 10 o clock (and sometimes 2 am) at night…I swear, some people love calling this entertainment. Every night though??? Personally, after getting up at 5:30 am and biking between 50-86 miles a day, my skin became leathery, my nose was shredded…sweat was plastered onto my entire body, including my eyeball. I was tired and stiff. I stood in shower lines half asleep in anticipation for the cold cold showers that would wash the day off of me. A nap usually went into play after a few chapters of David Sedaris wooed me into the sweet sleep under a tree or a tent. Dinner was hosted by our lovely Pork Belly Ventures* and by then at six o clock – I was ready for bed. (This is earlier than my 7 pm bed time last year. Did I really age that much in a year?) I’ll be honest, I did force myself to stay up until 8 some nights. #rebel

Another way to do RAGBRAI is the Waterloo way. 10-15 MPH, stopping frequently for pie, Beekman’s homemade ice cream, collapsing under trees at local farmer’s houses (a personal favorite), approaching a hill at 4 MPH and topping 35 MPH down. I took a picture of every single tree I sat under during the week. Still trying to figure out how to put those all together. This having been my third RAGBRAI in a row, I felt a sense of pride the whole week. Mind you lots of people did more than I did, but not only doing one, two, but THREE of them, I mean what the heck?! Go me! Okay Okay, this is the first year I actually biked all 7 days, but third time’s a charm. The 7 days of bike riding went by so slow in the moment, and so fast now that it’s Thursday, the week after it’s done. I miss it, truly. I’m at my desk, talking about it with others, and I have a yearning for it. The hospitality, the food, the scenery, the everything. The easy and wonderful made the hard worth it.

I’m getting a little tired, I got a bummed knee, and I finally stopped peeling, but here is a photo documentary of what I saw. That’s probably what you’re waiting for, right? Let me know if you ever want to join :) I wondered all of last week why I signed up for it, but this week, I wondered how many days are left until next year’s.

*See past post for more information.


Dave Sedaris, my lap


Wind Turbine


Brooks Saddle. Get one, stat.



Tent city, Pork Belly Ventures



Our bikes


5 AM


6:30 AM


Des Moines River


I don’t know who this is


Nor this



The night it hailed








Coming home, bumble-eff, Illinois


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