Friday, August 10, 2012

Strength, perseverance and a little bit of crazy…riding and eating my way across Iowa on RAGBRAI

Strength, perseverance and a little bit of crazy…riding and eating my way across Iowa

Riding my bike over 400 miles across Iowa on RAGBRAI takes 6 months to plan, 7 days to complete and apparently 10 days from which to recover! This week I got back on my bike and my intense hunger abated. I finally caught up on the thousands and thousands of calories I got behind on during the ride.

109 degrees in the shade at 12:30
Reflections from the road…this year was the 40th anniversary of RAGBRAI… 10,000 registered riders, 1,500 support vehicles with support crews and an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 non-registered riders (bandits) began in Sioux Center, Iowa – dipping the wheels of our tires in water brought in from the Missouri River (Sioux Center is several miles away from the traditional staring line of RAGBRAI – the Missouri River) finishing 7 days and well over 400 miles in Clinton, Iowa on the Mississippi River. Our family team of 6 completed the ride with only a few bumps – a broken spoke, a dead battery in one of the support vehicles and a few aches and pains – nothing that the feeling of accomplishment at finishing couldn’t overcome. Despite the intense heat – temperatures on the 3rd and 4th day ranged between 104 – 108 and a serious drought in Iowa, the communities and people along the route opened their doors and hearts to us offering their homes, their yards, shade, and water troughs. ..the generosity of the  people of Iowa was humbling.

Pie, Pie and More Pie…One of the things that I love about riding over 400 miles in a week is that I get to eat and sample large varieties and quantities of food to fuel my body – in an average day on RAGBRAI I will burn between 4,000 – 8,000 calories and they all need to be replaced immediately so that I can ride the next day. This year we had the added challenge of fueling our bodies with gluten-free foods and we were sad about missing out on the famous pies that greet RAGBRAI riders across Iowa.  We had a pleasant surprise when we stopped by the Community of Lohrville’s tent at 8:45 one morning after riding for 3 hours to find
3 different kinds of gluten-free pies waiting for us – what a delight! The community of Lohrville was innovative and responsive in their food offerings and after finishing off several pieces of pie I finished my breakfast with bacon-wrapped corn on the cob and a huge slice of watermelon and then we were off again…
One of the gluten-free pie offerings

Breakfast Dessert
 Carbo-Hut, one of the vendors who follows the ride, offered vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options everyday – their food was delicious, very satisfying and provided enough nourishment to make it to the next food stand or town. I posted on the RAGBRAI Forum that I was looking for gluten-free options and Carbo-Hut was one of the first to respond and they delivered. Several other shops in Cherokee – Natural Health Solutions and The Spice Rack also posted that they had a wide variety of gluten-free options, but Cherokee did not have a place for us to stay, so we ate in the community that could house us.  One of the highlights of the gluten-free experience for us on RAGBRAI happened at our last home stay in Anamosa where we stayed with Mark and Andrea Baum and their 6 month old son. Andrea made the gluten-free Monster Bars that were loaded with chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, M&Ms and other goodies – it was almost embarrassing to watch us scarf them down – what a delight. The Baum’s were so hospitable, they had chairs set up, ice ready to go, Monster bars waiting and cooked us dinner – a hot shower and a place to do our laundry were much appreciated – I can’t describe how much we appreciated staying with people who were so generous and kind. Andrea even shared her recipe for the gluten-free Monster bars – check out the recipe on Monday!

Several gluten-free riders who rode RAGBRAI agreed to be interviewed about their experiences. Stay tuned to hear from those riders about their experiences and to get my recipe for Gluten-free Coconut Hazelnut Cookies….yummmm.  

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