Summer means RAGBRAI for many Iowa bicyclists. My oldest son has talked about riding in it before, but it wasn't until I moved here that I really saw the impact of thousands of bicyclists riding for the sheer enjoyment. My youngest son decided to join in for the first time this year and the minute it ended they began preparing for next year. They rode for one day this year, 56.1 miles on the day they chose. They aren't the only ones getting ready for next year. Check out the website for RAGBRAI and you can find the countdown until next year's ride broken down to the second.
My daughter-in-law and I each took a car to pick up one of my son's and his bicycle. The kids all rode with her until we got to the guys and we left with one parent and his two children. Riding through a group of bicycles always makes me nervous because I have found they don't always watch the cars, but I wasn't near as nervous riding through the group of RAGBRAI riders. Even though they were in huge groups and took over the roads, they still paid attention to what was going on around them. The intersections were a little tough to maneuver because there were so many of them and they kept coming and coming and coming, but we made it in and out of town without a hitch. When I saw Michele Bachmann's's bus drive past, I felt pretty lucky to be driving only my little Toyota Sienna.
My sons enjoyed meeting the people as much as they enjoyed the ride. One son invited a busload of folks to park at his house and use his shower and air conditioning. Both commented what great house guests they were, even with wall to wall people sleeping on the floor in the air conditioning. Both boys had stories of how nice the groups of people they met were. They also commented on the fact that the entire day, they could count on one hand the number of discarded water bottles they saw laying alongside the road. This is definitely one event that they are proud to have participated in.
What struck me most about the day, as a proud mother, was my son's conversation with his children on the way home. The only thing he talked about for most of the ride is how he is going to help his children prepare for a part of next year's ride. They joined in the fun and are looking forward to the ride as well. They both got new bicycles a few weeks before and were already building up their distance taking rides with their dad. My two other granddaughters had not learned how to ride their bikes at the time of RAGBRAI and have since not only learned to ride, but are taking long bike rides with the entire family. It has definitely been a bike riding summer. By next spring I'll have sold my snowmobile and trailer and replaced them with a trailer for my recumbent bike and I'm on my way to join in the fun.
Have you taken any long distance bicycle rides? What is your favorite route? Think about joining us next year at .RAGBRAI.