Today we biked 55 miles from Charles City to Cresco in northeastern Iowa under bright, sunny skies. Riders who did not apply enough sunscreen during the day will surely experience sunburn tomorrow.
Three Observations. First, as I was standing in line at the porta-potties this afternoon, the woman in front of me looked exhausted. I engaged her in conversation.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, I think so. But there are so many hills in Iowa. And it’s so windy!”
“Are you from Iowa?”
“What did you expect?”
“I thought Iowa was supposed to be completely flat. Boy, was I wrong. I’m never riding RAGBRAI again. It’s too hard.”
Iowa is rather deceptive. The image of endless cornfields and completely flat prairies may come from people who only drive I-80 on their way to one coast or the other. But there are lots of hills, and my new friend will be very surprised when the hills become more frequent and steeper as we approach the Mississippi River on Friday and Saturday.
Second, every morning our team shares a scripture and prayer before we start pedaling. Today we read Psalm 96. “Say among the nations, ‘The LORD is king! The world is firmly established. It shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.’ Let the heaven be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exalt and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD; for he is coming.”
I invited our riders to pay special attention to the trees and fields of corn and soybeans as they ride. We were especially blessed when a bald eagle flew circles around the downtown area of Lawler for five minutes this afternoon, which was one of our RAGBRAI stops.
Third, one of the delights of riding RAGBRAI is observing the tremendous variety in bikes. I assumed that everyone would be riding a regular bike, but there is no such thing as a regular bike anymore, expect for the 1952 Schwinn I saw someone riding today. Here are the kinds of bikes I’ve seen:
- Racing, hybrid, mountain, touring, cyclocross, road, city, commuting, trekking, BMX and cruising bikes
- Recumbent bikes
- Tandem bikes: double and triple
- Prone bikes: (biker lies in a prone position)
- Crank forward bikes
- Bikes with double child trailers
- Co-pilot child bike with a trailer tow bar – enables kids to pedal, too
- ElliptiGO bike: you stand up on a seatless treadle bicycle
What delights me is the creativity of bikes and seeing participants of all ages, from babies, to children, to teens, to people in their 90’s giving glory to God by exercising their bodies.
Kudos to First UMC in New Hampton, which served lunch, and Cresco UMC, which had a fabulous sloppy joe dinner with pie. Tomorrow the hills start in earnest. But’s not too hard! You can do it!