Saturday, July 14, 2012

RAGBRAI Countdown Continues...last long ride, oh, and hold the e. coli please!

Prairie flowers in bloom in Lanesboro, MN
The checklists are compiled, the tents are airing, supplies are purchased and the last long ride is under our belts before the 7 day bike ride across Iowa begins on July 22nd. Tomorrow we will do an easy 2 hour ride and then the rest of the week is really maintenance, easy and short riding...10 - 15 miles a day or so, just enough to keep our saddles in shape. Today was a good time to work out the bugs in the body and get a sense for what we will each need to do to take care of ourselves during the 471 mile ride. Food plays a huge role in that care and maintenance of our bodies and today I was aware of the things I need to do to keep my muscles from cramping. I don't usually cramp up - I have always been aware of the ebb and flow of the nutrients going in and out of my body and I love pickles, dates, Pepto Bismol, bananas and dark beer - all vital components in keeping my body fueled cramp-free. I am also sure to eat salty and sweet foods to make certain I am replacing what I am losing while riding for 4-10 hours a day...but today I did something I have never done before - I walked out of a restaurant, a diner really, when I hadn't eaten anything for 40 miles and got back on my bike and finished the ride on salted nut rolls and shot blocks which are a jelly type electrolyte replacement. I decided to say no to the e. coli...and yes to the muscles cramping...worse yet, my ab muscles were the ones that decided to rebel.

I have a set of guiding principles that I set forth about how I was going to conduct myself on this blog and being nice was one of the guiding principles - there is enough satire and sarcasm and meanness out there - I really want people to dive in and enjoy this site, finding surprises, laughing and discovering tasty treats and terrific tips - so I spent several hours trying to figure out how to frame this in a way that is nice. I have decided to keep the name of the diner out of this post...and have notified the health department so that I could be nice to all of those who in the future may be infected. As I mentioned earlier, this week is critical in the care and maintenance of our machines (our bodies). We have had week after week of training, hours spent riding, stretching and fueling and so we are vulnerable to all kinds of things - injuries, illness and stress induced everything. Just the sheer process of planning, preparing and packing is quite a production around here. Now would be the perfect time for something to slip in under the armor and set any one of us back and as a team we are only as strong as our weakest link.

The saddest part of this entire story is that I was so excited to eat where we had arranged to stop. We had tried to eat there last week, but it closes at 2:00, so we were sure to get there today in time, which is why I didn't stop at my favorite pie place, or gotten ice cream (not only do I read to eat, I ride to eat...) It is a cute little place, very inexpensive and serving exactly the type of food I was craving, hot dogs which I usually do not ever eat, french fries and pie. I was famished and sat at the counter where I could watch the cook, thinking apparently that a watched cook would cook faster. Well I was wrong on that count and watched as all of the tickets that came in after mine got cooked and served before mine even started on the grill...25 minutes later as my hot dog was finally hitting the grill I was getting excited at the promise of food...when it happened...the cook reached into a box on the counter, pulled out some raw hamburger, rolled it into nice sized patties, put them on the grill, wiped his hands on his apron and then....reached into the bread bag and grabbed my hot dog roll. Now I am not usually squeamish and I certainly do not have the cleanest kitchen...but the thought of e. coli leaving his hands and being distributed onto my hot dog bun almost made me sick on the spot. I got up and left just as he dropped the french fries. Over-reacting? Possibly, but I have never had that kind of reaction and knowing how vulnerable my machine is right now, I opted for muscle cramps over something potentially more destructive. I decided to write about this because I entered the diner planning on writing a story about it and had many really great photos ready to post. When this happened I just decided to write the story from a little different perspective. I do plan to call the diner and tell them why I walked out again - I did say something as I was leaving to the waitress but really want to make sure that this practice is stopped so that we could consider going back, enjoying the meal I was hoping to enjoy and I can write the story I was hoping to write before this incident happened....really, my photos are really great of the place. Okay 7 days remaining before RAGBRAI - will keep the food and travel posts coming during the countdown. From my table to yours - Mama Caruso

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