25 Days to RAGBRAI!!!!

25 days and counting until the big rolling bicycle party moves from the rear wheel being dipped in the Missouri River to the front wheel being dipped in the Mississippi River.  I'm spending a few days this week getting things organized for the trip now so I don't have to scramble the week before (during Orpheus Music Camp).  I ordered a new tent liner yesterday from Kelty that goes under the Hula House tent to keep things dry.

I tested the Cabela cot last night.  One word:  Heaven!!!

It's big, but so am I...


A twin sheet fits over the Cabela self-inflating mattress pad perfectly.  I used one of our summer weight down comforters (bought them in Vienna) with a duvet and slept like a baby until 8:15 this morning.  The comforter stuffs into a small stuff sack the size of a small sleeping bag - so that's a go.  I can do the same with a pillow or two.  In terms of the cot/pad combo - I could sleep on my side, back, belly - no problems.  My back felt great.  There's an optional side table that attaches to it that I could purchase that would be perfect to place a battery operated fan (a must have on RAGBRAI) to keep cooler at night.

Allow me to preach a bit here on behalf of the tall crowd.  Anyone under 6'4" need not reply as you don't know what you are talking about.  '-]  Bike size wise, tent size wise, camp cot size wise, sleeping pad size wise - it's different for us tall drinks of water.  I want to be able to stand up in my tent.  I want to be able to sleep without my feet hanging off the end of the cot/pad.  I want a bike that fits.  I've got it all and I'm going to use it this year!  Ask me about years of being cramped in an airline seat, car, theater, restaurant, furniture, etc... - all designed for the average height of the population.  Try sleeping in a sleeping bag that barely makes it past your nipples and doesn't make it all the way up to your chin.  How about a tent where your feet hang out the door!!!

None of that for me at this point in my life.

Some teams have a rule where you can bring 2 duffle bags and everything - tent, pads, folding furniture, clothes, etc... - must fit inside of those 2 duffles.  Pork Belly Ventures out of Omaha has a rule that you should be able to lift each duffle bag over your head and hold it for 3 seconds.  Not a problem for me if I put the cot in one and the tent in the other!  I'd be golden as long as the cot was in the REI XXXL Duffle.  Some teams don't have a luggage limit. 

Team Simpson doesn't have a weight limit, but did mention to me they prefer a bunch of small bags rather than one or two larger duffles so they can easily pack things between the bikes for the trip out and back in the truck.  Not a problem during the week when the bikes are not in the truck.

Outside of the tent, pad, and cot.....I'll be taking minimal stuff this year having learned from prior RAGBRAI's that I barely use what I bring.  I''ve got enough kits for a clean biking outfit every day, so that's a go.  Small toiletry bag with essentials for shaving and cleaning.  Something comfy to wear in the overnight town and my Keens for evening footwear, of course.  And the other essential: a battery operated fan

Below is a suggested packing list of items I may want to include (got this from Team Simpson and have indicated check for yes and don't need for items I will skip):

Highly Recommended
  • credit card (check)
  • identification (check)
  • medical insurance card (check)
  • money ($25-$40 per day) (check)
For Your Bike
  • 2 large water bottles (check)
  • bike lock and cable (don't need)
  • first-aid kit (don't need)
  • frame-mounted bicycle pump/air canister set (don't need)
  • handlebar or seat bag (check)
  • plastic bag or shower cap to cover your bike seat for overnights (don't need, bikes will be in vestibule of tent)
  • rear view mirror (don't need)
  • spare tubes, tire tools, patch kit (check)
  • toilet paper (check)
Cycling Clothing
  • bandannas/buff/ hat (don't need)
  • cycling gloves (don't need)
  • cycling shirts (check)
  • cycling shorts (check)
  • socks (check)
  • helmet (check)
  • rain gear / jacket ( don't need - going with a plastic garbage bag)
  • riding shoes (check)
  • sunglasses (check)
Evening Clothing
  • off-bike shirts (check)
  • off-bike shoes or sandals (check)
  • underwear (check)
  • walking shorts (check)
Other Gear
  • air mattress or sleeping pad (check)
  • camera and batteries (don't need)
  • clothespins (don't need)
  • collapsible camping chair (check)
  • duffel bag, distinctively labeled or painted (check)
  • flashlight with fresh batteries (don't need)
  • foam ear plugs for sleeping (check)
  • insect, gnat, and tick repellent (check)
  • Kleenex packs (don't need)
  • lightweight sleeping bag and sheet (check)
  • medication / Advil (check)
  • pillow (check)
  • sunscreen & lip balm (check)
  • swimwear (don't need)
  • tent and ground cloth (check)
  • toiletries/soap (check)
  • towels and wash cloth (check)
  • zip-lock bags to keep clothes dry (check)
There are a few things they don't have on their list that I will be bringing.  Chamois Butt'r, Gold Bond Baby Powder, my Heed Nutrition and GU packs, etc... .   I will pack it all up and then try to eliminate about 1/3 to 1/2 of it or more that I absolutely can do without.  The main thing is the tent, cot, pad, fan and my biking clothes.  The rest is expendable.

Recovery and Training

I have to say I was feeling pretty gassed on Monday from Sunday's hard effort in the mud.  The day went by in sort of a blurr and I don't really remember what I did outside of teach a lesson, lift some weights and make a nice dinner for Zack and I.

The routine going forward is that on weeks where I have a race, I am to repeat week 12 of the structured build, peak, and race training plan.  On weeks where I don't have a race, I am to repeat week 11 of the plan.  I have a race this weekend (choice of Psycowpath Tranquility on Saturday, Minnesota Buck Hill, or WORS Firecracker - both on Sunday).  Weather and travel time will end up being the determining factor of which one I do.  That is to be determined in the next couple of days.

I did my maintenance weights on Monday, and this afternoon was an interval session where I did much better out on the road bike than I anticipated since I feel like I am still recovering from Sunday.  I felt great after the workout with the exercise induced endorphins raging through my system.  I mowed the lawn this morning and felt pretty good doing that in spite of the heat and humidty (which was 90 when I finished).

Tonight is test #2 on the cot to see how little I can get away with for pillows, sheets, etc... .  I really should set up the tent in the backyard and try it all out (including the battery operated fan).  I also want to try a night on the sleeping pad only (what I used on the prior RAGBRAI trips) to see if at age 51 I could tolerate it.  I probably could, but getting up off the ground prevents night sweats and all of the dew and rain we will fact it is nice to not have to worry about sleeping on the ground.   Hard to imagine being spoiled by 2 years of camping with a cot in the spacious Hula House 6 Kelty tent...

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