Although I had planned which cycling kits I would wear throughout the week and I still had clean kits to wear, the RAGBRAI XL and Bike Virginia jerseys were still available, I decided to wear my Cyclists Combating Cancer kit again. I had washed it in the shower on Monday although it’s never laundry fresh until it is washed for real.
But I wanted to display my support for Jacob Grecco and took a permanent marker and wrote PRAY FOR JAKE on my jersey. Jake had gone to Germany for two weeks of treatment and responded very well in the first 10 days or so. But just a couple of days before scheduled to return, he had become very ill.
With a feeling of “let’s get this over with” and wondering how my legs would respond to a 72-mile ride after 500 in five days, I rolled out of Anamosa early. The intense heat had broken from the storm Wednesday in Marshalltown and it may have been in the 50s when we rolled out so early. It was very delightful.
Early on I passed an older woman with a “license plate” on her bike that said Prayer Requests Taken. I rode by and said “Jake the Hero.” She may not have heard me as I kept going. When I stopped at a farm stand for some juice and a muffin, I saw her go rolling by in the crowd. This time I would do it right.
I caught her and told her “Jake the Hero.” I told her Jake was in Germany and we were trying to get him home. She said she would pray for him but wasn’t sure of his name. “Jake the Hero” is enough, I said. “God knows who he is.”
I passed a girl with two flags in her helmet – a Swiss flag and a U.S flag. I asked her if she was from Switzerland and she said she was. Near Zurich. Her sister had been an exchange student and came back to visit her host family so she came with her and rode RAGBRAI.
Coming into Delmar I stopped at a corner Lemonade Stand — just 25 cents a cup. Two cute kids ran the stand and I was tired of water and Gatorade. I gave them a dollar for a cup and they started to make change. I laughed. “Everything’s a dollar (or more) on RAGBRAI,” I said. I got a second cup then gave them another dollar and they filled my water bottle with Lemonade. And gave out free Rice Krispie treats.
RAGBRAI means a lot to the communities. Countless people had water hoses turned on. Some were sprinklers where one could ride through; others were looking to spray those who wanted to be sprayed. When I took the time to stop it was fun meeting people although I would not try to meet people in every town. To do so would mean I would never finish.
I passed a roller blader — “The whole way?,” I asked. He said yes. Impressive.
At ten miles to go the signs marked each mile. A couple of miles from the Mississippi River in Clinton, Iowa, people lined the streets and sat in their yards as though they were waiting for a trade to pass. And they were. We were the parade. Most were clapping. Almost all had congratulatory signs.
It meant a lot to the people to congratulate the riders. Approaching Clinton we passed a park and the River City Band was playing. These are good folks these Iowans.
I went to the finish banner and although I said I would not dip my tire in the Mississippi, I followed the crowds and did so. I was only reserving dipping for the occasion when I ride across the U.S. and use the oceans as my dipping points. But it was fun.
I then made my way to the Brancel Charters meet-up point which was the long-term parking area. I found my luggage then pitched my tent to let it air since it had dew on it in the morning. I had a few hours before my group finished so it could air out before I packed it for the ride home.
Noticing my mileage, I then went for a 10-mile ride to make it 700 for the week. It was a good week.