Thursday, June 26, 2014

RAGBRAI Preparations

Year One

In hind sight, ignorance was bliss. It was 1985 and the route was going to come through Mason City, the town I was living in at the time.  Somehow at the age of 14 I convinced my parents to allow me to register with the North Iowa Touring Club (NITC) to go on RAGBRAI.  In order to do so, I needed an adult chaperon and a friend of my older brother was willing to sign the form.

I packed my duffle bag with some clothes, a sleeping bag, and a small popup tent. We met in the parking lot of Hy-Vee to load our bikes and bag into the support vehicle and a coach bus took us to the Hawarden, IA to drop us off.  During the week we were expected to have our things packed and in the trailer each morning before 8am. I was almost always the last one to do so.

In my early years of going on RAGBRAI, the overnight towns were much less commercialized or organized than they have become.  There might have been a flatbed trailer parked on one corner of the town square to serve as the stage for the night's entertainment.  Another corner might have been hosted by the local VFW or American Legion serving as the beer garden often too busy to bother checking anyone's ID.  My generous consumption of libations, late nights, and noisy returns to camp certainly did not sit well with the others that were part of the North Iowa Touring Club.

I ate exclusively fast food and wore only regular clothes.  I rode mostly in athletic shorts, but did decide to wear jeans on one 80 mile day when it seemed too cold for shorts.  I survived the longest, wettest, most miserable day of the week in a trash bag as a make-shift rain coat. Somehow, I managed to survive that week riding my Fuji S12-S the full 540 miles.

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