Tuesday, August 18, 2009

RecruiterGuy's RAGBRAI Blog

Some of you may be wondering what happened to RecruiterGuy’s series on Recruitment Strategy Development. It was put on hiatus while I demonstrated to myself and others that you can do what you put your mind to. Never underestimate the power of determination!

I completed RAGBRAI successfully – www.ragbrai.org . It was truly an endurance ride for me and approximately 10,000 other bicycle riders of 442 hilly Iowa miles with four 12 hour days (for me) and three shorter days, mostly on the bike. The only hill I walked was the one in Corning, IA (birthplace of Johnny Carson) where there must have been 200 bicycle riders trying to go up the hill at the same time. Below is my tongue in cheek blog of the ride.

The Road Hogs is my bicycle club.

Prior to Day 1 in Council Bluffs -
Learned to disengage my clips before falling in the grass - after I fell -
if no one saw it, does it mean it didn't happen? On the way back from
dipping my rear wheel - and almost me - in the Missouri, Dr. Jen and I saw
Bambi cross our path on the way back to camp. How many trains pass through
Council Bluffs at night? And does every one of them have to repeatedly blow
their horns - or was that a tribute to us?

Day 1 -
Learned with the first 2 mile hill that I would need to be determined to
complete this RAGBRAI. So I kicked determination in. Proud that I never
walked a hill - just rode so slowly ants were beating me up the hills -
quite a sight! Oh yeah, as promised to my wife, I took my blood pressure
medicine prior to riding that day. Only problem was that the doctor had
recently cut my dosage in half and I took the old prescription (Dummy!).
Kathy was nice enough to accompany me to the EMT in Red Oak where they took my blood pressure and it was 98/55 - no wonder I wanted to pass out while setting up my tent -may explain my slow speed up hills. Larry and Robin and Michael introduced me to Mama Rafael's (sp?). Great breakfasts! Did away with the tortilla charade after the first day - just loaded up with egg and sausage.

Day 2 -
Learned that I should have bought a long sleeved jersey at the Expo in
Council Bluffs. It lightly rained my last 30 miles. It was fun to watch
the more experienced riders like Dorie, Jen, Kirk, etc. begin riding and
then see the flash of light when they hit warp speed! No wonder they were
always clean and relaxed after my 12 hours on the road - yeah that's right -
on the 70+ mile days I was out there for 12 hours - poor Larry accompanied
me most of the days until we were separated - usually my fault - no one else
could ride that slowly. No solar heating for the camp showers that day!
Coldest shower for me since camping along the Colorado River in the Grand
Canyon while white water rafting - BRRRR! Discovered that the blood
pressure medicine had nothing to do with my slow speed on hills...How about
that walk up the hill in Corning? Wow, the rush hour in DC was better than
10,000 bicycle riders hitting Corning over several or so hours. What a
sight! Jen suggested Pastafari for lunch.

Day 3 -
The fog was interesting. Couldn't believe we would have a 2nd 70 mile day
and then realized it was not the last time that would happen! Come back
determination! Pastafari was yummy! I was really looking forward to a good
shower after that ride!! I figured a community the size of Indianola was my
ticket. By the time I went for my shower, they were out of water - no joy!
How about that hill coming into Indianola? I could imagine the City Fathers
laughing when they designed the route just for us - "Wait 'til they see that
hill at the end of 77 miles!" Of course my chain came off at the bottom of
the hill. As I started up, I saw a sign that said a 9 yr. old girl rode up
the hill so there I was at 2.9 mph...

Day 4 -
I told Larry that I never believed that I would tell someone that I was
happy to ride only 44 miles in one day. We got into Chariton around 2 PM
that day. It was unusual to be in a camp that early and see how the warp
speed riders live - of course they had been there since 8 AM or so...How
about the shuttle bus control guy in downtown? Wonder if he had a nervous
breakdown by the end of the evening - not pretty!

Day 5 -
Began with a bang! Lightning striking nearby was enough to roust me from
the tent around 4:30 AM. Just imagined how lightning may enjoy the aluminum poles on my tent, my Bike proudly standing nearby, and a big tree not far away - others seemed to sleep through the storm. Well now the trip is downhill, figuratively speaking. While others were doing the century loop, I was enjoying Mr. Pork Chop and watching those that had completed the loop stream by - I had the better deal from my perspective!! Later I stopped at Beekman's for ice cream. What a way to ride! As I was approaching Ottumwa, I was watching a nasty storm cloud. We appeared to be on a collision course. On one hill just outside of Ottumwa, I had just waved to a family when the big drops started. I hollered to the family to ask if we could use their garage. They said sure and 20 cyclists followed me into their garage. Very nice! Gave them bragging rights too! The next morning after visiting the port a potty and cleaning my hands, I chose to eat a clif bar while heading back to the camp site. You should have seen the expressions of the people approaching me as I was eating that brown clif bar.

Day 6 -
Yay! My last 75 mile day! Brighton did a great job with their welcome.
Larry and I probably spent an hour or so there. I ran into a guy in the
port a potty line who was from Baltimore and born at the same hospital in DC
as me - amazing! Has anyone heard how the guy who ran into the road grader
outside of Brighton did? Couldn't believe he was going down the oncoming
lane of a hill with his head down. Well the Air Force cycling team went
past me 2 or 3 more times, riding 4 inches apart and looked like 20 mph up
the hills. I gave them a real run for their money when we were walking
through towns!!! Showed them!! Mt. Pleasant wasn't so but treated us to an
amazing natural light show - I napped in the rental truck until it ended.
Robin, Michael, Larry, and I ate at the stand at Thresher's. The lady
behind me got the last meal. Thank goodness a couple of people bailed out
of line!!!! Since I was getting up early and my sleeping bag was still my
duffle, I never unrolled it and slept on my un-inflated air mattress. I
dreamed of rolling hills and riding with the Air Force cyclists. Then the
alarm went off.

Day 7 -
Rolling, rolling, rolling! Finally I am beginning to figure out these
hills!! I am up to 3.3 mph now - just rocketing up the hills! Actually I
did greatly improve once the grade was less and began riding in the 15 - 18
mph range. Must have blown past Larry when he was waiting for me at the top
of a hill - never saw him again until he finished in Burlington. Coming up
a hill in Burlington with the theme from Rocky playing on the corner brought
tears to my eyes as I was completing my goal - then I saw the Snake Alley
challenge! I took a picture of it and then mounted my bike in its lowest
gear. Two riders fell over in front of me by the time I hit the 3rd curve.
As I was approaching the last two curves the person behind me went down
(probably couldn't go 2.9 mph like me!!). One side of my mind was asking me
if I was crazy!?!?! The other side said, "If you stop for even one instant
you will also fall over. Keep pedaling!!" I made it. What an appropriate
finish for my trip. Never underestimate the power of determination! I
dipped my front wheel into the Mississippi. What a grueling and fun trip!
Next time I will use a road bike instead of a hybrid - but my bike served me
well. Thanks Road Hogs!