“One more hill, and after that it’s pretty much all downhill to ____________.”
That’s what Iowans say to RAGBRAIers. Iowans who probably haven’t ridden a bike since they were kids. Iowans who drive everywhere & don’t recognize a hill in their car.
Dang! There were more hills today. But you know what? I now look at hills dispassionately. They are there, and I downshift and pedal up them.
Very steep hills will tire me out. They will strain my muscles. But I just do them, usually in granny gear and usually at 4 mph. And usually with one foot free of my clipless pedals, just in case I need to stop.
Long hills that are less steep are pretty much a piece of cake to me. Many people still pass me, but I’m not the slowest one, and I’m not exhausted at the top.
Today was a really nice day. The weather was great! It got really cool last night, and the coolness stayed with us until at least ten o’clock. And even after it warmed up, there was a dry, cooling breeze. I cycled well, although after several hills my butt muscles started to feel really tight, so we stopped for a massage by Julia. Julia & her husband Lynn set up a massage tent on the RAGBRAI route every year. This year they’re sharing farm space with Mr. Porkchop. Anyway, Julia worked on my muscles for twenty minutes, and I was on my way. I didn’t want to get any more relaxed than that when I still had twenty or so miles to go.
We had the BEST piece of blackberry pie at a Church of the Brethren way out in the country, several miles west of Monroe, IA. We later had good pie from the Kiwanis in Monroe. Later still, good pie at the Living Word Church pulled pork dinner–they admitted their pie wasn’t homemade, but from a very good bakery in Pella, which we’ll pass through tomorrow.
I still find it hard to believe how much more fun I’m having on RAGBRAI than I did two years ago. Some of the variables are quite out of my control, especially the weather. But It is gratifying to see my own changes, both in strength/endurance, as well as skill in cycling.