RAGBRAI 2018 Recap and On to the Future

Sorry;  This update has been a long time coming.  Sometimes, after spending a full week riding and camping, you need a bit of a break before you get back into the saddle (both literally and figuratively).  I think we’re all pretty much recovered at this point, so time to fill everyone in on how it went!

The Beginning

This year, Team Bad Decisions had four representatives make the full week trip across Iowa; James, Tara, Scott and Myself.   On top of that, Bryn joined us for the first 3 days of the ride, and Robert joined us for the First Day, drove back to KC to work part of the week and then came back up for the last  3 days of the ride.   Tara, Scott, James and I drove up to Davenport the Friday Night before Ragbrai began, and then caught our early morning Charter bus across Iowa to the start town of Onawa.   Bryn Drove up to Des Moines early Saturday, and caught a Charter Bus from there to Onawa, and Robert, Drove his car up to Denison Iowa Saturday (The ending point for Sunday’s Ride) and rode the route backwards into a headwind to join us Saturday evening in Onawa.    In Onawa we were able to go into town and check out the Expo, which is always an interesting display of crazy Bikes, People, fun music, and good food.

Day 1

Team bad Decisions came out in Full force, all wearing our new Jersey’s.  If you’re wondering, we got a lot of good feed back, and fun questions from the Jerseys.  Day one was a short day with only 43.5 miles and 1500ft. of climbing, but we aren’t sure that climbing counted all the hills we had to climb once we actually got into Denison.  That town is Hilly A.F. and our campsite ended up being at the top of it all.  The ride was fun though.   The beginning felt a little strange because Vendors weren’t allowed to setup outside the proper stop towns due to county regulations.  This led to Mr. Porkchop setting up in the middle of a town street, and the 1st Iowa Beer Tent stop being at the end of a town, but all in all it was alright for us.  By the end of the day, we were out of those counties and vendors were along the side of the road as is usual.  We even had our first encounter with the Northern Chapter of Team Bad Decisions at the First Beer Stop.   We ended up seeing these guys a lot and we had a lot of fun bull shitting with them all week.   Day one was also the the scene of one of my favorite memories of the whole week.

Starting on the west side of the state, we had to climb our way out of the Missouri River valley and get into the state proper.  This led to a pretty major hill about 13-15 miles into the day.  I was sitting at the top of the hill with a few others waiting on everybody to complete the climb.   A little bit down the road from us was a sign that read “Backpocket Brewing, 3 Miles.”  The veterans of Ragbrai know this as a beacon for the Iowa Craft Beer Tent.   They setup 2-3 stops a day on the route and offer terrific craft beer from local Iowa Breweries for $5 a pint.  If you stop at enough of them throughout the week, you can get a #EarnedIt T-Shirt from them.   Anyway, we were at the top of the hill waiting when we saw a kid (maybe 8-10 years old) and his father huffing and pumping it up the hill.  The kid was really working it, and so was his father to be honest.  For a kid to climb that hill was actually a pretty big success, as it was a decently serious hill.  Anyway, the father reaches the top of the hill with his son, see’s the Backpocket brewing sign, and calls out, “Cody…   In 3 miles you’re going to taste your first beer!”  We all cheered and laughed.

The Rest of the Days

Yeah, I started with an intent to chronicle each day, but I’m already tired, and honestly, it’s hard to remember everything that happened, so hear are some of the highlights.

  • On Day 2 we road through Templeton Iowa.  They’re building a brand new Distillery there for Templeton Rye whiskey and had a big party going on at the site with tons of whiskey drinks, free bacon, and good music.  Day two was the longest non-optional day with 72 miles of riding, 2500 ft of climbing, and a brutal stretch going north into a Headwind.  The day ended though with us riding right in to a church meal of home made chicken and noodles, green beans, mashed potatoes, and pie that was amazing. The meal totally made up for the brutal ride.  Our Charter, Pork Belly Ventures, also had an amazing blue grass band play at our campsite,  Missouri Stomp Grass.
  • Day 3 we road into Ames Iowa and stayed on Iowa State University’s campus. Unfortunately, we had to say farewell to Bryn once in Ames for the week so she could go off on another, different vacation with her family.  Hard life.   We did attempt (and succeeded by the standards set by the Wright Brothers) to fly a tent like a kite.  We also went into downtown Ames that evening, via a nice cab driver named “Tater” (like the tots) to hit up the Expo again.  We ended up eating at a fantastic Thai restaurant called “The Spice.”  Highly recommended.   I believe day 3 is also the day the route took us right by the home of Jay, one of the organizers of Team Good Beer.  He’s ridden with us before in KC for the Ride to Boulivardia.   He setup his place for a big party.  Tons of free beer to taste, a stage setup for a band, and nice shade tree out front.   It was a good stop.
  • Day 4 Highlights!  The zip line!  It was towards the end of the ride, but we came upon a farm that had a man-made lake.  On the dam of the lake they had built a huge slip-n-slide down into a dug out splash pool.  That’s what caught our attention as we rode by.  The farm also offered “by donation” beer in a shade tent, AND we discovered, they had built a zip-line into the lake.  The platform looked like it had been built…  Yesterday.  I successfully slip-n-slid without injury (though rumor has it several people broke ribs on that slip-n-slide that day).   I also attempted the Zip-line…  not so successfully.   My had was wet and the bar was slippery, what can I say?  I didn’t get hurt though and it was tons of fun.   We even saw a jet-ski hi-jacking on the lake.  It was a great crowd and tons of fun.  That day we also ended up playing a game of GIANT beer pong, played with dodge balls and trash cans painted to look like Solo Cups. That night, in Newton IA, Robert joined us again, and we were visited by a brief, but somewhat intense storm with 40mph winds.  The police tried to evacuate the campsite to a school that was 4 MILES away, but most of us are Mid westerners.  We staked down our tents, then stood around watching the storm come in.  We learned our tents do pretty well in a storm when properly secured.   Though James got a bit worried.  He was prepared for the worst though!
  • Day 5!  Timmie and Robert completed the optional century loop.   They road 108 miles by the time they were done.  It was Roberts longest ride to date, which is awesome.  Specially since some of the roads on this day’s ride were downright awful.  But we made it.  Several of us also completed our #EarnedIt” Challenge, having sucessuflly stopped at 10 Iowa Beer Tent stops (I got a perfect 14/14 by the end of the trip).
  • Day 6 we got to check out the future birth place of Captain James Tiberius Kirk in Riverside Iowa!
  • Day 7!   We stopped in Atalissa Iowa.  The once home of Last year’s Team Bad Decisions Driver, Mick, and also the home of the infamous Bunkhouse from “The Boys in the Bunkhouse” by Dan Barry, which my book club has read.  There were rumors of a Killer hill that day, that ended up not being anywhere near as bad as the killer hills the year before.  We road into Davenport, got “hammered” at a local brewery on the riverfront, then packed up and drove home.  Though that was in question for a while as I couldn’t find the keys to my Jeep!   After tearing through my bags 2 times, we got smart and asked the people at Pork Belly’s if they had found any keys.   By some chance..  THEY HAD!  They must have fallen out of my bags pocket at some point while they were being transported from town to town. This earned them a nice tip from me.  I don’t know what it would have cost, and how long it would have taken to get a new set of properly coded keys from the Jeep dealership, but I don’t think we’d have gotten home that night.  The tip was worth it.  On the way home we stopped at the World Largest Truck Stop on I-80 for dinner, and learned about the joy of massaging chairs for truckers and “Zone 3!”

Other Thoughts

  • Pork Belly’s in an excellent Charter.   Yeah they cost more than previous charters we’ve used, but we also got 3 free meals throughout the week, free hot showers, GREAT entertainment,  Free beer each night until the kegs went dry, optional midweek laundry service, and hot coffee each morning.  They’re a very large charter, so you have to go in eyes open, knowing that this means some lines, and some extra miles of cycling to get to a campsite large enough to hold the charter, but in general we really liked them.
  • Though the Charter was cool.  I may have a bug now for building out our own bus.  We’ve got enough people now willing to take a day off and drive, that it should be easier to accomplish.

The Future

  • We want to build a bus for Team Bad Decisions.  Surprisingly, buying an old school bus is not that expensive.  Getting it to the point where anybody without a CDL can drive it is.  We’re evaluating options and pre-designing right now.  However, should you want to contribute to the bus, let me know.  This past year, the charter cost us each around $500.  If we can get enough people willing to contribute that much, we could easily have a terrific setup next year.  Our own bus, with showers, some bunks, an awning, a deck for transporting bikes, and storage and room for 15-16.   Think of it as paying for next years charter Kansas City based Charter upfront.   If you’re wanting to Contribute, let me know.

Upcoming Rides

Typically, we’ve done our BBBR mornings on the 2nd weekend of the month.  That would be this Saturday.   Unfortunately I’ve got family coming into town this weekend and will be unable to ride.   DON’T Let that stop you from riding though.  Still I’m skipping organizing this ride in August.   Why am I Ok with this?  Because in September we’ll be riding our Inaugural Gran Brewdo!

The Gran Brewdo

This is to be a celebration of the past year of cycling with Team Bad Decisions.  We’re going to head out for a 30-40 mile ride, stopping at several breweries and cycling related stops along the way.  It’ll be an easy, no drop pace. Then at the end, we’ll meet up at my place for some BBQ and brews.  Friends and Families are welcome for the BBQ.

Velo Garage Rides

This is still happening every Thursday Night.  Ride Starts at 6:30, is a 10-15 mile ride (easy pace, no drops) and ends with fun and beer at Velo Garage.  Come join us!

Other Events!

As always you can learn about more upcoming rides here.

Pics from the Rest of Ragbrai

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