The bus ride was uneventful.  We stopped a little bit out of Des Moines for lunch.  I noticed that it was the exact same location we’d stopped five years ago.  Then I realized there probably weren’t too many ways to get from the east side to the west side of Iowa via Interstate.  If you always leave about the same time (8AMish) then about lunch time you’re going to be around the spot where we stopped.

Spoke with a lady sitting behind me on the bus.  It was her sixth RAGBRAI.  She had a fervent hope this year wasn’t like last year.  She said it was so hot that people were having to be taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion.  She taught me something:  a bicycle turned upside down with a ribbon affixed to it is a plea for an ambulance to stop and assist.  I didn’t know that before.

It reminded me of the one and only time I ever rode in weather I thought was too hot.  I’d taken off for a trip to Lake Erie.  On the way back, the temperature was in the high 90s.  Normally I can ride 20 to 40 miles without needing to stop.  That day, though, I couldn’t do much more than 5 or 6 before I’d have to stop and seek shade.

The weather’s supposed to break with lows in the 60s and highs in the mid 80s.  I’ll take it.  That’s fine biking weather.

As I don’t have a panorama lens on my cell phone, the picture below is just a slice of all of the tents set up here at the Pork Belly Ventures camp site.  I’d not be afraid to say there’s at least 1000 to 1500 tents in the entire site:

If your wife tells you to meet her in the beige tent . . . 

First order of business when I checked in was to get the bicycle fixed.  Yes, throwing about $700 into the bike didn’t protect me from having the front derailleur break.  

These puppies are gonna be whipped after 7 days of folks breaking stuff on their bikes

I stood in line for an hour to get to the bike mechanics.  A very nice lady put it up on the bike hoist, took a look, and said, “Nope, can’t help you.”  Turns out the thing was actually broken.  I said, “So what do I do now?”

She directed me over to the Bike Expo that follows RAGBRAI around.  There they have full service bicycle shops set up to fix things just like a broken derailleur.  Brotha Mark took good care of me:
Bicycle Wizard Extraordinaire

While Mark was working on my bike, I remembered I was hungry.  Found a place that serves red beans and rice.  It’s as impossible for me to pass up RB&W as it is for me not to check out a cute blonde:

RB&W and Iowa-grown sausage!
Might as bring out the other side of the sentence in the last paragraph:
Cutie Blonde of the Day

I seem to remember last time I rode that around every corner was someone selling food.  And the food stand was invariably manned by a cute blonde.  Glad to see Iowa’s not running out of ’em.

45 minutes and $50 lighter, I then proceeded to check in with my tour group.  Paying for a couple of optional dinners, plus throwing in my donations for the places where we’ll be staying indoors instead of camping out cost me another $75.  This ride ain’t for the light of pocketbook!
I needed to fulfill the RAGBRAI tradition of dipping my rear bicycle wheel into the Missouri River.  On the way to the river, this bus passed me by:
Team Wind:  Looking for some tail but will settle for some head!

Also on the way to the river a lady was out walking Pepe.  Pepe was what a mash-up of my two chihuahuas would look like so I had to stop and scritch his belly:


Ferocious critter
 

It was a six mile round trip to the river.  Wasn’t hard to find . . . all I did was follow the other zillion riders in front of me:

The drivers being inconvenienced were quite patient.  And outnumbered.

Made it all the way to the river, dipped my tire, and rode back to my tent.  Guess this means, barring any more mechanical problems, I’m ready to ride back to the other side of the state, the Mississippi River, and my car.

Ferocious critter