Journal entry – 29 July 2015, Wed

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

After breakfast I call around and make a tentative appointment for later in the day tomorrow for the RV. Mentioning that we are currently on a trip seems to make a difference. It’s only about 30 minutes past Galena so that is pretty convenient. Can either get a ride or ride the motorcycle to Pat’s if it will take awhile and we have to leave it over night.

Head in to town on the motorcycle and stop at a local cafe for coffees, a breakfast sandwich, and internet. The wifi is very slow, so I struggle to get any journal entries uploaded. Do catch up on some email and such, however.
Search briefly for the library, run back down the road for a better picture of Poopy’s restaurant\tattoo parlor\motorcycle shop\bar, and head back to the grocery store for a few last items to hold us over till tomorrow.

  

Back at home Ashley reads while I tackle my to do list. Get the motorcycle and bicycles washed, look at the roof vent cover (which needs replaced), and the bicycles oiled.

Chores done, I hang up the hammock and settle in to read. The only nearby tree that is suitable is a pine and every time a breeze blows brown needles fall on me. Powering through some books recently – ready to start a biz of some sort. Finished Ask, 4 Hour Work Week, Launch, End of Jobs, 7 Day Startup, and currently working on Dream Year. Lots of ideas, have filled half a notebook with lists and scribbles.

  

Our grey water is nearly full and our fresh empty so we go to the bathhouse for showers. The dump station and water refill is nearby but we will be pulling out in the morning so we can make it until then.

Reload the trailer and generally pack for tomorrow’s departure before heading in to bed.

Journal entry – 28 July 2015, Tues

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

After breakfast I type up the last week’s journal entries. Once we have signal I will be ready to upload and add pictures.

  

The cooler is more water than ice, so we finish what is left in it. Don’t want to make daily trips into town for ice so we will work on packaged/non-cold items for a few days.

The reunion is a few days away – maybe I can schedule an appointment during it so that we won’t have to backtrack and to give us a place to stay while in the shop. Have to check on that before calling around, though.

Ashley reads while I write. It rains outside. Good day to laze around and relax. Stressful, between the car insurance from the paint scratch and the fridge being down.

We hear back that there’s a place for us to stay during the reunion, so tomorrow I will call about RV fridge repair. Too late today.

Journal entry – 27 July 2015, Mon

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

Wake up earlyish and after breakfast I head in to town to Napa for fuses. They don’t fix the fridge so I work through a downloaded manual to troubleshoot. It points to the circuit board being bad. Power goes in but doesn’t seem to come out.

  

With no data signal I struggle to find information for dealers but Mom helps out. One place has the board in stock, so a motorcycle trip is in order to go pick it up.

Still no one at the pay booth this morning – maybe that means we got last night free. If a new board fixes the fridge we may well stay put till the weekend. There are a series of short trails that look interesting – but Ashley got a shin splint during the ride (I assume from the hike through Davenport on Friday) and we are going to let it rest for a few days so we might not make it onto them.

  

Didn’t pick up a geocache in Iowa while riding as I meant to – might run across the river to find one if any happen to be close by.

Also considering going to the movies. An old theater is Savanna is playing Minions, which I think we’d enjoy. Only one show day, at 7. Maybe tonight we can have a movie date.

Jump on the motorcycle for a 3-hour round trip back to the quad cities to pick up the circuit board. Hot ride. Upon returning we notice someone is in the booth so I go back to pay for 3 more nights. No mention of last night, so we get a 25% discount! They have a sign looking for new hosts so I ask about that out of curiosity. Free spot with full hook-ups and earn $1 a day. If we had signal available that might be a good option to sit still and work on a business idea.

Swap out the circuit board but no change on the fridge. Reset the thermisistor (if that’s bad it’s a whole new cooling unit to replace it) and nothing. There’s a cable I can’t reach that goes to the top of the fridge. Would like to test it on the other end.

Frustrated, I stop for supper and try again afterward. No luck, so I put everything back together.

Tea and watch a movie before going to bed.

Journal entry – 26 July 2015, Sun

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

We sleep in late, a glorious 8:00, and after breakfast begin prepping for the trip out. We plan to meander north to see what we find – maybe overnight in a WalMart and tomorrow morning call around to find a fridge repair shop with a spot for us.

The campground is full, we snagged one of the last 3 spots. Apparently they’re having a BBQ cook-off and everyone has a smoker going. Turn-in is at noon. If we knew there would be a tasting we might delay our start.

Our neighbor chats with us and suggests trying the Palisades State Park. Sounds good enough to us so we aim our GPS there.

We stop at WalMart for fuses (no luck) and some more groceries. It’s challenging to balance restocking with only having a cooler for storage.
Keeping an eye open for a parts store and half-open for a laundry mat on the road. The only of the former we spot is closed already and the latter is only noticed after we pass them.

  

The campground is large, spread-out, and most empty. We find a nice spot on a loop all to ourselves. Electric hookups but no water – a water spigot is nearby, however, as are dump stations. I can’t seem to catch anyone in the pay station so we settle in for an early supper and movie watching. We’re beat!

Just Keep Pedaling

This is the seventh and final in a series of posts sharing lessons learned while bicycling more than 1,170 miles in preparation for the RAGBRAI bicycle ride across Iowa. You can see them all here.

In less than five months, Ashley and I have moved from thinking that our 10 mile training ride was quite an impressive feat to considering 25 miles a leisurely jaunt. It’s amazing how quickly your perspective can change!

  

Our progress was slow and simple. We found a training plan that was designed to build up to the RAGBRAI and followed along. Along the way we progressed to higher and higher mileages (culminating in a 75 mile ride) and learned more about how our bodies reacted to different situations and how to best overcome them.

You Can Do The Same!

What we have done was a challenge and physically demanding. However, we are confident that almost anyone could do the same thing.

So much of it is a matter of preparation – eating and drinking enough, finding routes to ride, and keeping your bicycle maintained.

Most importantly, you have to make the time to ride. Progress won’t come without practice. It’s a matter of getting out there and continuing to pedal until you’re done for the day.

  

What’s Next?

We worked hard to get into the condition that we have, so that we feel confident we can ride 450+ miles in a week. We are now at a place where 100 miles (a century ride) is definitely doable with the proper amount of food and water, and we aren’t going to let that slide.

After the RAGBRAI we will recover for a week, go on some short rides during the week, and then plan to go on a century ride. Following that we will continue riding each week, for fun.

Touring on our bicycles is a great way to explore locations around our RV. The slower speed allows us to really see what is around us while the self-propulsion helps us save gasoline.

  

Until it isn’t fun any more, we are going to continue bike riding. We like how it makes us feel and are proud of what we can accomplish by following the simple mantra:

Just keep pedaling.

Journal entry – 25 July 2015, Sat – RAGBRAI Day #VII

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

Up and at ’em – last day of the ride. We start just a couple of mintues after 6 (the crew beside us left at 5!) with Scott joining us. The first town is part of the urban sprawl, so the 2.9 miles never have us leaving the city to reach University Heights. We stop for breakfast – picking up breakfast burritos. I ate mine quickly and was both still hungry and also intrigued by the breakfast dumplings that I spotted so I got one to try. Unique and very tasty!

  

The next 3.2 miles took us through more urban setting and we didn’t realize that we passed through Iowa City until we were well past it. Somewhere along the next 21 miles to West Liberty we left Scott behind on a hill, but he caught us when we paused in town.

It was humid when we woke, plus the terrain was either nice and flat or rolling hills, so we were speeding along. Breezed through Atalissa, 4.9 miles, and again left Scott in the 4.9 miles into Moscow, and headed into Wilton 3.8 further – the day’s meeting town. We were hungry but also too hot to want anything to eat. I got a Bucca Wich, since I’d been seeing them along the trip. Half a sub loaf with saucy filling stuffed inside it. Delicious! Ashley settled on a hot dog.

  

A mile or so down the road we stopped at Beekman’s for another shared ice cream (chocolate!) to help us cool down. Still delicious, as was just sitting in the shade for a spell.

On to and through Durant, 5.7 miles further. Then paused in Walcott 7.6 miles away. Lots of activities going on in the next-to-last town, including human foose ball.

  

14.5 miles on to Davenport and a loop around Credit Island and dipping our front tires in the Mississippi River. Stopped and got some photos, holding our bikes up in celebration. We made it! Horray! Hard, but fun, and we finished strong.

 
     

Another mile or so away was the luggage pick-up, so we headed over to grab our bags and catch the shuttle back to the RV. Dropped bags in RV, loaded bikes on trailer and went into the air conditioned student center with the atlas to plan the next leg of our journey. Hot, tired and hungry, the easiest option is to return to the Hilltop Event Center for the night, with electric hookups and a pool, and then plan from there.

Scott just got into town and we plan on meeting for lunch before going our separate ways. Many of the vehicles are gone already, but one remains right next to us. We try a few options to get out of our spot and I try pulling forward, angling away from the entrance. Almost make it and the RV’s big behind swings wide and scratches the van’s paint. Argh! We leave our contact info under the windshield, a nice man writes a letter witnessing that it was just a scratch, and we head on to meet Scott.

   
 

Lunch was ok, not quite what any of us had in mind, but the conversation was delightful. Wrapping up he tours our home and we all head on our ways.
I receive an angry voice mail from the van’s owner and repeatedly call and text to get in touch with him. We stop at Walmart for groceries and head back into Illinois for the night. A week until the Guiney family reunion and roughly 100 miles to travel. Not sure where we’ll spend our time.

Finally hear back from the van owner who is frustrated because it’s an all-original 1972 van that lives in storage for the whole year except the week of RAGBRAI. He’s back out of the country tomorrow. While I feel horrible there is also nothing more I can do. He has our insurance number and contact info.

We set up camp and try getting the fridge working. No luck. Maybe new fuses on the circuit panel will help – will have to pick some up tomorrow.

I head in to town on the motorcycle for a bag of ice to put in the cooler. Ashley grabs a shower and calls our insurance to get the ball rolling from our side.

Pulling into town, it looks odd. Empty lawns. I have apparently grown accustomed to crowds and spectators as I ride in. Haha!

After the heavy lunch we have popcorn for supper while watching a movie.

Journal entry – 24 July 2015, Fri – RAGBRAI Day #VI

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

Slept right through the concert with no problem and took out my ear plugs. The problem arose about 3am when I hear a generator running nearby and couldn’t find my plugs again. So I dozed off and on until the alarm went off at 5.

  

Busy morning – everyone seemed to be up and stirring already. There was a line for the porta johns, which is a first that early in the morning. Really pretty sunrise while packing up, though. We hit the road right about 6:00.

   
   

Didn’t take long to reach Whittier, 16.1 miles along, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Thought we had another couple of miles to go and that this was just a wide spot in the road. So we headed along until we found Farm Boys Breakfast.

There were only about 4 people in line in front of us, which is unheard of! We got breakfast burritos. I gave instrucitons on how I normally make mine – “I want everything, burritos aren’t supposed to close.” He did a great job, even managed to wrap it, but just barely!

Oh, we had picked up bananas at Walmart yesterday and ate one of those for breakfast before heading out. That and the burrito seemed to really fuel us well – the’re more like something we would fix for ourselves on a regular day.

Springville was only 3.3 miles away from Whittier so it was a quick trip after breakfast. When we pulled out of the breakfast stop there were at least 100 people in line, so we lucked out. The road was a lot less crowded too, so that was great. It’s a lot more enjoyable to not be fighting crowds.

Went through Springville pretty fast and headed on to Mount Vernon, 10.7 miles away, today’s meeing town. A college town, it was really nice with lots of cool architecture. We saw the Beatles, stopped for rhubarb crisp- and were curious about the rhubarb brats but didn’t try any and found “Fuel” a great-looking little coffee shope. Went in and grabbed a latte and a pour-over coffee. Running fast today, we sat in back (on chairs without pedals!) and enjoyed a delightful chat with John, a Brit who lives in Iowa and has ridden 17 of the last 19 RAGBRAIs!

   
    
   

He shared that, unless you’re racing, mountain bike clips are more than sufficient on road bikes, and that they would be really useful on long rides like RAGBRAI. Like everyone else, he was surprised and impressed that we’ve really only been riding for a year. Apparently that’s something rare. Also, our actual practice seems to be rare. It is a big time commitment to get the full training in, but we are so glad that we did! With a couple of rough days when we were tired, we never really hurt and today we’re feeling great.

John also had a different approach to the ride. First of all, he relay drives it. Use a truck and trailer for luggage and bikes – drive to a designated meet-up spot and the driver switches out with a rider and they continue on. So everyone gets to ride every day, at least a part. Secondly, they go off-route, visiting other towns. No lines for food or bathrooms and the town is so excited to see them because they’re otherwise bypassed. Tactics to remember for future visits!

We finished our chat and coffee and checkd the weather before heading out. Looks like rain in a few hours. Maybe we can beat it.

There was a group giving out Milkweed balls to throw on the road side while riding. Monarch butterflies migrate through the area and solely lay their eggs on Milkweed; the young only eat Milkweed. With agressive mowing and spraying the plants have dimisnished in number, causing Monarchs to do the same. Ashley picked up one seed ball and I received three. Along the route we later threw them off into other batches of wildflowers, hopefully helping increase the numbers of beautiful natural things.
Lisbon is 2 miles on, and Sutliff Cider 2.4 past. Barely slowed for them and took the 10.2 miles on to Solon. Stopped for a break – ate our second bananas, checked out bags and wallets made out of old bicycle inner tubes and headed on.
Coralville Dam was 15.2 more miles. It started to sprinkle on us just was we reached it. It was certainly neat to ride across the top of the dam that was lined with American flags. Just a shame it was raining.

  

Rained the remaining 5.7 miles in to Coralville. 65.6 miles total and the second hilliest day at 2,955 feet of climb. Lots of them were rolling hills and were fun to ride. Only a couple of long steep ones and only the one after the dam was rough as it was uphill from a flat start.

Arriving in town was confusing. I’m not sure they were quite ready for us and the rain didn’t help. I turned into the Expo area and rode across the red carpet before turning around to catch Ashley. Made it in to the baggage area where she caught me. Grabbed our bags and headed to the far side of the field to set them up.

Still raining, so we set up the rain fly and I held it against the rain while Ashley put up the footprint and tent underneath, keeping them dry. We crawled in and peeled off the wet clothes and swapped into dry ones.

  

Though it was windy still, the rain stopped soon. Ashley headed off for showers and I set up the hammock (finally!) and laid around for a bit.
When she got back we walked half a mile down to Tierra Coffee for a drink. Arrived in camp about 12:30 so lots of time. Split a cookie and had our drinks while topping off our phones and using the wifi. Finally finished our drinks and walked across the parking lot to see what New Horizons Co-Op had to offer for supper.

We were hungry, so everything sounded good. However, we finally settled on fresh-made sandwiches and split a pre-made salad. I picked up a rootbeer and we grabbed bananas for tomorrow’s breakfast. After paying we sat in the eating nook to enjoy our fare. We were definitely not disappointed!

  

After eating we sauntered back to camp. Ashley sat at the trolley stop, waiting for me and looking at route options. I went to drop off bananas, grab our water bottles and check that Scott found our tent – he had texted that he’d made it in and asked where we were set up. He had found us. We chatted for a few minutes and I told him about the co-op and library locations before going to meet Ashley.

She was only interested in one of the trolley routes, so we went on down to the main entertainment area on the bus. Perused a wine shop and then walked down the red carpet in search of popcorn. stopped at a first aid station for a band-aid – Ashley’s wet flipflop was beginning to irritate her instep. She thought it odd to have someone apply a bandaid for her; she’s pretty confident in her ability to do so, after all. :)

  

We settled on the free popcorn from the solar trailer. Neat set-up, with solar panels on the roof that power everything, including the popcorn maker. So it was solar grown, solar popped, popcorn!

Taking our dessert we headed back onto the main road to visit a Coffee and Wine bar. Ashley had a sangria and I settled on a lemonade. While sitting I sketched the scene out the window.

   
  

Finishing our drinks we grabbed the trolley back to camp. Ashley headed into the tent while I hopped into the hammock, which had become quite the clothesline in our absence. Journaled for the remaining sunlight then prepped for tomorrow and finally bed time. Took a bit to fall sleep. Not sure how much of that is due to the caffeine in the coffees, the sugar in the lemonde, or the band playing just on the other side of the trees.

Enjoy the Ride

This is the sixth in a series of posts sharing lessons learned while bicycling more than 1,170 miles in preparation for the RAGBRAI bicycle ride across Iowa. You can see them all here.

You’re probably riding your bicycle because you enjoy it. Whether you are seeking the thrill of a victorious race, trying to beat your personal best time, or simply pedaling because you like the feel of the wind in your face – it’s fun.

  

But it doesn’t always feel like fun, does it? Those days when the sun is beating down on you and the sweat is running into your eyes can be miserable. Just like the times when you get caught out in the rain and your shoes squish with each revolution of the pedals. Or when you have a flat tire and the flies are buzzing around your head while you change it. Or perhaps you didn’t bring enough water or can’t find a bathroom and are looking for somewhere to stop. No, it’s not always fun.

  

Ultimately, you will return another day to keep on pedaling. It is fun, though. You get a chance to really see the scenery that would just flash by if you were driving – as long as you remember to look up and take it in.


Who Knows What You Might See!

On different rides, Ashley and I have seen some beautiful views – rolling fields, blue skies filled with fluffy cotton clouds, and forests filled with green. Within just a few feet of us have been all sizes of bunny rabbits, a fawn, and a mother turkey with her 8 babies. In a field that we passed by have been numerous deer and even a flock of more than a dozen turkeys.

  

It’s easy to get caught up in the road just in front of your tire. You’re doing the work to be there. Don’t forget to take a few moments to look up every now and then and enjoy the view.

  
Ride Your Own Ride

Ashley and I aren’t racing, so it’s not about competing with anyone. Even so, we have to remind ourselves to enjoy ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up trying to keep up with the biker who just passed us, which can just tire us out.

Pay attention to how you are feeling and ride at a pace that you can sustain. This can definitely mean that you take days or sections of rides to push yourself faster or further than normal, but don’t let others performances be the motivating factor for how you ride. Unless you are racing, it is just you and the bike and you are your only competition.

Share Your Ride

Just because you aren’t competing with someone doesn’t mean that you need to be alone on the road. Having someone riding with you can help the ride go faster – a long ride can take hours – so it’s nice to have someone to chat with as you go, or just to share the ride with and know that you aren’t out there alone.

  

You can point out the views and appreciate the beauty of the scenery around you. Or just have someone ready to share an encouraging word when the hills loom in front of you.

As with so much else in life, it’s better when shared.

Hills Are In Your Head

This is the fifth in a series of posts sharing lessons learned while bicycling more than 1,170 miles in preparation for the RAGBRAI bicycle ride across Iowa. You can see them all here.

Pedaling up a hill is hard, even if knowing that the other side provides an enjoyable downhill respite. The absolute hardest part of a hill, though, is the mountain that grows in your head.

  

It’s amazing what happens when you let your mind add fertilizer to a hill in front of you. Suddenly that little incline becomes a nearly inpenatrable earthen fortress that you must fight your way up. Gravity battles against you and each stroke of the pedal barely moves you forward.

Yet, the same hill, when appoached with a mindset of “this isn’t so bad, once I get to the top I get to take a nice break while coasting down the backside” seems to be little more than a slight incline that you shift into and pedal up, quickly summiting it and leaving it behind you.

Though they are physical obstacles, hills really are a mental challenge. If you can approach them with an optimistic attitude then you will find that you will successfully rise up and pedal on past them. Let them loom in your mind, however, and they will keep you down, sapping your energy and forcing you to walk even though, physically, you are more than capable of riding all over them.

The Wind Always Faces You

Similar to hills, the wind presents mental challenges. It can sound so loud as it passes by your ears, giving you the sense that it’s blowing far harder than it is. This can trick you into thinking you aren’t making as much progress as you are.

Of course, wind also presents physical challenges. It pushes you back, or sideways, causing you to struggle to make progress or keep on a straight path.

Air Conditioning, Literally

The wind helps cool you down on a hot day’s ride, so it can be an appreciated companion while pedaling. Appreciate it, instead of focusing on the challenges that it presents, whether mental or physical.

  

While riding, Ashley and I have noticed that the wind always seems to be facing us, no mater which way we are traveling. In part, this has to do with the fact that we have put so many miles on our bikes – eventually the wind has to face us. We comfort ourselves with the idea that we are riding so fast that even if there is no wind, we are rushing past the stationary air so quickly that it sounds like wind in our ears and we can feel its resistance as we push through it.

So much of riding is a mental challenge. Being forearmed with this knowledge can turn a miserable ride into quite an enjoyable one that provides a great sense of accomplishment.

Journal entry – 23 July 2015, Thurs – RAGBRAI Day #V

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

Must have slept pretty well with the earplugs in – probably my best yet, actually. My big concern was missing the alarm but a) I was up just a few minutes before it went off and b) I pulled out one of my earplugs during the night, as I seem to tend to do.

  

We packed our bags and hit the road about 6:00. Hudson was 8.2 miles away and we were ready for breakfast. Ashley got a tasty yogurt parfait and I went for the Chris Cakes again. Since you can get free refills she ate half of my second plate. We both went by the line and got free bacon,  nice and thick cut – basically ham slices and with excellent flavor!

  

Before reaching LaPorte City (19.9 miles) we ran across Mr. Pork Chop. Apparently it’s a tradition to eat one of his chops but it always seems to be either too close to having eaten breakfast or lunch. We thought there would be a schedule so we could plan for tomorrow, but no such luck. Chops do look good, though, even if we might have to split one.

   
 

In LaPorte we slowed for photos and a Cliff Bar.

        

Then headed on to Mt. Auburn, 10 miles further. Cute little town where we snagged some more photos before meandering along. 

   
 

Vinton, today’s meeting town, was 8.3 miles further. We spotted a BLT booth that sounded great so we both got some wraps with Avacado in it. Never thought of a BLT wrap but it worked really well!

   
 

Shellsburg, the next town, 11.3 miles further, was celebrating the 100 year anniversary of it’s bridge across the river. We came in too late to get any cake but enjoyed a nice break and lay down for a few minutes.

  

Before too long we headed in to Palo, 5.7 more miles. We stopped in for a bag of frozen grapes and a spot of shade. Frozn grapes were a delight – they will make a great snack in the RV as well. We’re ready to be done for the day, though, so we move along. Tired and a bit hot, we are out of energy and ready to stop.

  

Hiawatha is 7.5 miles away, for a total of 70.9 miles and 2,377 feet of climb. Arriving in town we stop for free shaved ice. It really hit the spot in the heat. We sat in the shade and chatted with Tom who had a stroke a few years ago and now rides 200 miles a week but struggles to speak (but can sing. He sang a line of Amazing Grace for us.)

We headed in, set up camp in the sun and grabbed showers. I used the water faucet and Ashley hit up the shower trucks. I moved to the shade while waiting and ran into Scott.

  

Ashley got back and three of us went and found supper among the food trucks and then walked down to Walmart. I grabbed strawberries and Rolos for dessert. Darn tasty! We also picked up bananas for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Wrapping up, Ashley headed back to the tent to rest while Scott and I searched out the library. We plugged in to charge and use the wifi while enjoying the water and poweraid they were giving away. They closed just as I finished and before Scott was done so I headed on back to get ready for tomorrow while he scouted out another location to wrap up working.

As I got back a drunk couple began setting up right next to us. Other than fearing that they would fall on us (and they have already sat on our tent) it is sadly humorous.