Before I begin, I think the cell service here might be good enough to post a picture, so wanted to follow up on the hazing we received from our team last night…
It's been quite the conversation starter and all along the route people came and introduced themselves. This is definitely a social affair.
Starting from our first host family's home, I was warned by a team member about the sea of humanity we'd encounter. After the first mile I thought, "This isn't too horrible." Then we joined the actual ride and I found myself surrounded by more people than I've ever seen in my life. We quickly learned all the lingo. We knew the basics, "On your left, etc." but soon learned "Bike on, bike off, rumbles," and all the other ways you communicate in a sea of 10,000+ people.
We rode past Alton and another town whose name escapes me. After 20 miles we stopped for breakfast smoothies in Paulina. We biked another 14 miles or so and made it to Primghar, which may be one of the most hilarious places I've ever seen. The town is named by combining the first letters of the names of the founders. They all had mustaches, so we rode up to find them hosting the "Mustache Bash." We ate some pretty epic pie and I stood in line for a porta-potty.
A mile or so past Primghar, we found a rode side stand with coffee, cold watermelon and shade. We stopped there and learned that it was on the site of one of Iowa's largest inpatient mental health facilities. The Pride Group has 35 beds and suffers from lack of funding because of poor reimbursement. We also met a lady who lives in Northwestern Wisconsin. She works part time in an independent bookstore in Spooner and also rents out a yurt on her property in Hayward. She's done this ride 11 times.
Next, we stopped in Hartley where I had the best tasting dill pickle I've had in my entire life. It may have been the salt deficit, but it was outstanding. We also found ice cream sandwiches and laid in the park for a while. We were next to a fellow who professed to us that he was hurting from the ride when we asked if he was ok. I was glad that Strange and I had really trained because today wasn't as hard as some of our training rides.
We also ran in to the US Airfore team, who are beastly rider. They also have been stopping and helping every disabled rider on the side of the road. Every time I saw a disabled rider, there was a man or woman from the team already there helping. They're awesome.
The last 19 miles from Hartley to Spencer were the most challenging because we encountered a small headwind. I kept seeing signs that we were 10 miles away. Then after 20 min, I'd see another sign saying we were 20 miles away. Admittedly, I internally lost my chill a spell, but externally I tried to keep it together and finish strong.
Then Strange and I had a lemonade and passed out in the shade for a nap.
Probably the best part was sitting around in a circle with our team mates and chatting. I've met so many interesting people, and gotten to know others better. It's also been awesome to spend time with Strange, who rode the entire day at my right, or just behind me when it got tight. It's fun to do this together, and I'm grateful that we share these things instead of doing them apart.