Saturday, July 28, 2007
After a fast paced and hilly 56 mile ride from Dyersville to Bellevue, I dipped the front tire of my bike into the Mississippi River and just like that, my ride across Iowa was over. In some respects, it was along week. On the other hand, it went by in a flash. We traveled a long way. Iowa may not be the biggest state, but ride across it some week and you won't refer to it as small. 477 miles. Mostly cross wind, often into the wind and seldom with the wind. Such is the whim of the weather Gods in Iowa. At least we were spared unbearable heat.
When I think about the week I had, I will remember it for two things. First and foremost I will remember it for the RAGBRAI experience. RAGBRAI is the most unique cycling event in the country and arguably one of the most well known in the world, aside from The Tour de France. It is the oldest and longest annual state cycling tour in the country. If RAGBRAI is about anything, it is about Iowa. People from all 50 states and 21 foreign countries came to Iowa to experience RAGBRAI. The people we met whether in a town of 150 or 15,000 were warm, friendly and welcoming and made me proud to be an Iowa resident. I was also impressed by the beauty of our state. Rolling hills, endless fields of corn, rivers, streams and quaint little towns are what Iowa is all about. Sometimes it takes 477 miles of pedaling to really appreciate what we have in our state. And of course, the things you see along the way you will never forget. Whether it is the guy pedaling a bike encased in a banana, the "sail bike" or the guy riding the unicycle (all the way I might say), there is always something to make you smile, no matter how sore your butt may be.
I will also always remember my week for my participation as a member of Team LIVESTRONG. Riding with Lance Armstrong was an honor, quite an honor indeed. But the real honorable thing that our team did was raise $350,000 in support of The Lance Armstrong Foundation's ongoing battle against cancer. I am eternally grateful to all those of you who so generously supported me. Your generosity made me the events top fundraiser. It was a proud accomplishment that I share with all of you.
During my week, I rode with countless numbers of cancer survivors and patients. I was inspired by their strength, energy and optimism as they embrace the LAF's mantra to "LIVESTRONG". Whether it was Lisa who was between chemo treatments yet still rode a little ways with us every day or Joe who is a 13 year cancer survivor, I was amazed at the passion these folks have for life.
The LAF is a wonderful organization. If you or a loved one is facing cancer, checkout http://www.livestrong.org/. It makes endless amounts of valuable information and support available to you. While at the site you can also join the LIVESTRONG Army and become a cancer advocate.
Tomorrow will be a well deserved day of rest for me as I will stay off my bike. But I am sure some time next week I will get in the saddle and go for a ride. I'll miss not hearing Mr. Porkchop, the sight of Tender Tom's Turkey stand, the aroma of the Pastafarian and smoothies at the Garden of Eden. I'll also miss the Key Lime, Apple and Pumpkin pie. But I'll still have my bike and the open road ahead which as they say, is better than a day at the office!
Once again, thank you so much for all of your support.
And for the final time, I'll
See you down the road!
Friday, July 27, 2007
Riding with Lance this week hasn't been a real easy event as he has started at 11am most days. By that time most of us are a pork chop and two slices of pie into our ride. Today, he started at 9am and we were all there to join him for a group ride. It was without a doubt the best day I have ever had riding a bike. 150 of us started out on a fairly leisurely ride out of Independence towards Dyersville. A few miles in Lance picked up the pace and only about 40 of us were able to hang with him. I was one of the 40 and before I knew it I was side by side riding with Lance at 22MPH, chatting and having a ball. All told, I rode with him for 25 miles before he bowed out to head to France to watch his team (Discovery Channel) win it all at the Tour de France. I sat on his wheel, I pulled for him, we climbed a hill together out of our saddles and we lead the team into a 15 MPH head wind for almost 10 miles. When he peeled off, we kept an aggressive pace and I actually completed the 65 miles ride in better than 20MPH. It was a day I'll never forget.
So here we are. 421 miles down, 56 to go. Tomorrow will be our shortest, but hilliest day of the ride. I am looking forward to it. I like hills and I am looking forward to patsrideacrossiowa coming to an end.
Tomorrow my post will come from home. I'll take some time to reflect on the week and the experience and share some of my feelings with you. It has been a week that I will always remember.
The pictures of us with Lance were taken right before our ride. We also made it to the Field of Dreams. Looks just like it did in the movie, right down to the "black sox ghosts" walking out of the corn.
Best food of the day: Turkey/Bacon/Guacamole sandwich.
See you down the road.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Today felt more like a training ride through the Jefferson county countryside than a leg of RAGBRAI. I got out a little bit before 6am and completed my 63 mile ride by about 9:15am. There were not a lot of other riders on the road and many of the pass through towns seemed surprised to see cyclists so early. I felt real good today, with no real problems. Saddle is getting a little sore but that shouldn't be a real problem with two relatively short days left. 360 miles down, 120 to go. I am looking forward to Dyersville tomorrow as I have never seen the Field of Dreams.
The top picture is of me starting my ride to Independence at sunrise. Jack, can you tell I am wearing my Wisconsin Badger cycling jersey? The other picture is of the red hat ladies that I met as I was riding into Independence. Our mom's are red hat ladies, so we thought they would enjoy the picture.
Not much else to report from the road. Did a little laundry today and otherwise just resting and catching up on email. I'll have a longer report for your tomorrow, the eve our our final ride.
I would like to thank Sam for his comments and let him know that I did indeed thank Dallas Clark for beating the Bears in the super bowl! Keep those comments coming.
Best food of the day: Pancakes, eggs and bacon at the R&R Cafe in Independence.
See you down the road.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Today was "hump day" on RAGBRAI. We have now completed 300 miles (only 30 of which have been downwind) with 177 to go. I had a real good ride today. Legs were strong and I "pulled" my group for many miles today. Pulling means riding on front which is tougher than sitting on someones wheel. I'm starting to sound like a real cyclist, aren't I? My saddle, while a little sore, seems in good shape to get to Bellevue. Tomorrow is a short day at only 62 miles. Winds will be light and in our favor most of the way. We don't have a team start so I am on my own. I plan to go out early and be done well before noon,
We had a chance to go to a VIP reception for the LAF. Here is a picture of Denise and I with John Edwards. Nice guy, but a little too far left for me.
The other picture is of me and my out of control riding partners at the Blues Traveler concert.
Special thanks to Annette, Ryan, Jack and Mae for their comments. Annette, I hope your recovery is going well and I look forward to swapping RAGBRAI stories with you soon. Ryan, your emailing me on DAHI time is okay but don't make a habit out of it or you may be without a job in the next few weeks. Jack, check back tomorrow for a cool Badger picture. Mae, I will only ride across China if you ride with me. Starting training those little legs.
It's getting late, so I need to get to bed. I'll be back tomorrow with another update.
Best food of the day: Chicken Salad sandwich at the Peacock Cafe in Ablington...amazing!
See you down the road.
Pat, Dad, Uncle Pat, etc........
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Whenever we ride in groups with our Team LIVESTRONG jerseys on we constantly get people along the route asking us "where's Lance?" For some reason, with my helmet and sunglasses on people mistake me for Lance. On Sunday a guy asked me for an autograph. Today, a guy came up to me and thanked me for everything I do with my foundation. Unfortunately, I don't have one. Needless to say, my riding partners get a big kick out of this and now whenever anyone asks "where's Lance?", they just point to me.
The lower picture is of two of my teammates. In the middle is Joe Schneider, a 13 year cancer survivor and a fellow top fundraiser. On the left is John Tuite, another fellow top fundraiser who came all the way from Ireland to ride across Iowa. The other picture is of the Eagle Grove cheerleaders who were hawking breakfast burritos. I promised them a picture on my blog, so here it is girls.
The ride today was good considering how bad I felt when I woke up. Tomorrow we cross the halfway point and it is all downhill from there. Looking forward to being in a real city tomorrow night as rural Iowa is just that, rural.
Best food of the day: A pancake and sausage on a stick.
Thanks to Doug for the comment!
See you down the road
Every night from 6pm to 7pm we have "Happy Hour" at Camp Livestrong. Tonight during happy hour our LAF team leader Chris Brewer asked Denise and I if we would like to join Lance Armstrong and a few of his friends for dinner at the house he was staying at. Needless to say, we were quite excited. When we got to Lance's place we were joined by a few of his friends as well as current Indianapolis Colts and former Hawkeye Dallas Clark and his wife Karen. Lance was great. He is a very funny, down to earth guy who just enjoys hanging out and having a good time. His friends were also great and talking Badger versus Hawkeye trash with Dallas was a blast. We even got to try on his Super Bowl Championship ring. Needless to say, the evening was the highlight of the trip thus far.
The days ride was a tough one. Windy and hot and later in the day I was somwhat uncomfortable in the saddle. I need an easy day tomorrow as I have tried to hang with guys a bit younger and stronger than me thus far, and there is still along way to go to get to Bellevue. The good news is that we have our two longest days (77 and 76 miles) behind us. Tomorrow is ONLY 71 miles and after that, the furthest we ride is 68. The picture is of me arriving in Humboldt. I look better than I feel. Sorry, no Lance pictures yet. Maybe later this week.
Best food of the day: Key Lime Pie
See you down the road
P.S.- I am still waiting for comments. The more the merrier
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Day 1 was quite a day. The pictures are of me and some of my teammates as we set off on our ride and as you might recognize, Lance Armstrong.
I rode well, felt well, but probably should have realized I have six more days to ride. I certainly was not like the average RAGBRAI rider as I averaged almost 18 MPH. Wind was a problem most of the day as I certainly learned the value of drafting. Tomorrow our team captain says we have to ride as group, draft off each other and go no faster than 15 MPH to conserve energy for later in the week. We also need to stop more often, eat more pie and be better advocates of the LAF. I have no problem with any of that and look forward to an easy day tomorrow (assuming I recover tonight!).
Denise and I had the chance to attend a youth event featuring Lance Armstrong. I had the honor of holding the microphone as the kids asked Lance questions and yes, after the event I got the chance to meet Lance and have a chat. Quite an honor, quite an honor indeed. I'll have a number of chances this week to spend more time with him.
To Kathy, Julia and Diane, I thought about all of you today. There are many survivors riding with us who are a real inspiration. LIVESTRONG and keep up the good fight!
Hi to Ben, Ryan and Tyler. Hi also to the Weaton boys. Hi to all at DAHI. Hi to Sam, Jack, Riley and Mae!
Gotta go and get some sleep. On the road by 7am tomorrow.
Best food of the day: hot mini sugar donuts.
See you down the road.