I'm excited to be part of the RAGBRAI Virtual ride this year. Because of COVID-19 and all it brings, RAGBRAI decided to throw out the rules and do a virtual ride to registered virtual riders who participate in the daily mileage challenge. Each rider is challenged to complete the daily mileage goals from each day of this year’s route. Riders pedal the miles then share their ride experiences with the RAGBRAI community on social media (and are entered into drawings for daily prizes)! Each day has its own profile, and my day to track and share was the final day, 39 miles, culminating in a "tire dip" into a body of water (representing the Mississippi river).
As fate would have it, I choose a typical upper-midwestern summer day for my ride with temperatures in the mid 90's, pounding sun and really high humidity. I built a route heading south from Madison, WI on ridespot.org, then opened it on my Ride Spot app and navigated. You'll see in the first three pictures that I had a mix of dedicated bike path and quiet, rolling country roads to ride. South-Central Wisconsin is an amazing place to tour; it's quiet country roads are generally filled with more agricultural equipment than car drivers.
I stopped about half-way through my route in the small town of Belleville. The city has an old school town square with water fountains to refill bottles and shade to rest. Unfortunately, there wasn't a place to pick up a snack mid-ride, which I was craving more and more as the miles passed. After a quick break, I was off and pedaling. Within the next five miles, I started to feel a little hazy and I knew I was going to need food. I began fantasizing about the ice cream shop near the end of the ride.
Two-thirds through the ride, as my bonk was formally introducing itself to me, I came across a hiker on the bike trail who was picking blackberries. I asked if he minded if I hopped into the scrub with him to share the bounty. He enthusiastically invited me in and before long I had picked two full palm-loads of blackberries and was ready for the final push into Madison for ice cream.
I rolled into town and made a bee-line directly to Michael's Frozen Custard and loaded up on a large turtle sunday and a bottle of orange cream soda. Although I was totally cooked, I also felt completely repaired within minutes of sitting down with my icy cold snacks. I'm sure I looked like an aberration, sitting in my salt stained lycra, inhaling ice cream and soda, but I felt amazing.
Then came the symbolic and rewarding part of my ride. With thoughts of what it must feel like to ride across Iowa over the course of a week, I rolled up to Lake Wingra, imagined I was on the edge of the Mississippi, dipped my tire in and took a photo to share. Although we're sharing our ride experiences virtually this year, I still have my enthusiasm to ride RAGBRAI next year. It's on the calendar.