IM05 – RAGBRAI 2016 Day 2

Shenandoah, Iowa to Creston, Iowa
Distance: 78.7 miles
Ascent: 3,994 feet
Cyclemeter app not used

Cumulative Distance this tour: 135.6 miles

Last night in Shenandoah was cooler than Day 1 and I think everyone got a better night’s sleep. A good thing because we’d need it today.

This morning the three of us departed together but soon got separated, the norm for RAGBRAI. I grabbed a sticky bun and coffee in Bethesda, and then a bratwurst in Villisca. Compliments to Villisca – they really did a great job setting up the town for such a small place (population 1,252).

Waiting for a train near Villisca
Waiting for a train near Villisca

At the 50 mile mark I stopped in Corning, also fully decked out, which was a natural lunch break. Got a big Gatorade, then a beer, searched in vain for companions, then got into a conversation with some New York guy. Finally ran into Jack (almost miraculously) and we continued around the grounds for a while. Jack says when looking for someone, he always tries to think like they’d think. With me, he searches in front of the bandstand.

Corning IA
Corning IA

In 10 miles we reached tiny Prescott brimming with RAGBRAI vendor trucks. We bypassed them all, however, due to a sign that promised ice cream at the junior high school just past the main drag. This turned into a gem spot. Free beer and $2 root beer floats. Jack and I even requested and received Coke floats, and were soon enjoying them beneath the shade of a big tree. It just doesn’t get better than that.

A final 17 miles took us both in to Creston, with the temperatures and humidity both high. Hills and heat were the prominent topics of the day. Seems we climbed the same 100-200 feet all day and totaled over 4000 feet of ascent. Accordingly, numerous ambulances were noticeable on the course today. Some were likely responding to heat exhaustion, but others were probably just on patrol due to the conditions.

On the way I did start to bonk lightly, and stopped to consume a couple of strawberry Pop-Tarts. There I heard the horrific story of a RAGBRAI rider being hit and dragged in his tent by a drunk pick-up truck driver late last night in Shenandoah. We also heard of the death of a rider on Day 1 near Glenwood. Certainly sobering thoughts. Records suggest that 30 riders have died in the 44 years of RAGBRAI.

In fact, earlier on the route today, I’d seen a rider prone on the road surface with blood pooled around his head. It appeared that a farm tractor had tried to cross the RAGBRAI route, but the details of that injury were unclear.

A couple miles before Creston, a lake crossed the road and I saw three or four riders on the boat ramp.  Not many riders stopped because we were so close to finishing today’s ride, but I just couldn’t pass it up.  Parked and stripped off my socks and shoes, then inched my way down the slimy boat ramp, eventually treading out to full immersion.  It felt great!

Free bath in Summit Lake
Free bath in Summit Lake outside Creston

In Creston, Jack and I set up our tents and then napped. A challenging riding day, more than 75 miles and 4000 feet of climbing in the heat. We saved a tenting site for Phil and tried to contact him. Text, phone, but no response. At 7:30PM we located his bag in the pick-up area, so at least we knew he wasn’t set up elsewhere.

Napping in Creston IA
Napping in Creston IA

By 8:00PM our stomachs were whining, so we put a note on Phil’s bag with an arrow pointing the way to our tent site, then took the shuttle in to town. Creston had set up a wonderful food alley and a lively band. I scored a monstrous BBQ sandwich for $5, one of the best deals of RAGBRAI, along with a wheat beer, while Jack had a tasty-looking veggie Chinese stirfry and a frozen Snickers.

This vendor has wonderful but expensive food
This vendor had wonderful food

Around 8:15PM Phil texted me back, now in the baggage area. We eventually took the shuttle back to find him set up next to us. He said he’d “hit a brick wall” around the 50 mile mark and then limped his way slowly in to Creston. Unquestionably a tough ride today for everyone. Fortunately Phil had eaten a lot on the road and so wasn’t missing dinner tonight.

Now it’s 10:00PM, the latest I’ve been up this week. Seems an exhausting day can sometimes do that – actually make it harder to fall asleep.  Passing out thought for the day: The new Half Dome Plus tent is great – ridiculously roomy for one.