It started with the route announcement for RAGBRAI 2011. Couldn’t be simpler….Fly into OMA, ride a bit, fly out. It was so much more. So then I called around/surfed the interwebs and found Greenstreet Cycles. Their hospitality and warmth reminds me of my childhood in the great midwest….where people were once nice to each other.
So, after a busy thursday last week, Team Capt. Tom shows up at the shop with malt liquor, and Capt. Chris’ Travelers Check. We take 1/2 hr to fit a rack, panniers and Toms’ camping gear onto the bike for a test ride. Then I got my rig ready.
Rule #1 at the shop is to never change anything significant before your big trip…so we had to take our bikes out for a test ride….from bar to bar. The bikes handled well, and our livers were treated to a sampling of what was to come at The Ragbrai.
The next morning, we flew with the travel bikes and camping gear to Omaha. It was there that Greenstreet arranged a pickup for us, facilitated the assembly of our bicycles, allowed us to store our bags at the shop…and even arranged a place to shower for us. Talk about over the top effort! Here is a picture of the shop.
So, bikes being built, we headed off to a bar in Omaha, where they have real beer on tap.
After a few cool ones, and an hour of Tom calling our lovely barmaid by the wrong name, it was time to head back to Greenstreet to take the crew out for a bite to eat.
After a delicious meal, we retired to a wonderful air conditioned home, where I observed the finest collection of vintage frames from my early days in the bike industry I have ever seen…bar none.
Saturday morning found us feeling fine, so we all headed out for a wonderful greasy spoon breakfast.
It was a hot one on Saturday, and we spent a little time riding around the city and waiting for a break in the weather to head to the start city of Glenwood. Creighton University is in Omaha, and I’ve always wanted to check it out a little, especially because it has a dental school. Beautiful campus, I must say.
So after a little urban experience, Tom and I decided to head out of town….not before some duck tacos at a bar.
It was neccessary to pick up some supplies to get us out of town…
As well as stopping at bars on the outskirts of town….just in case there were no bars between there and Iowa.
Once on track, it was necessary to get across the Missouri River to get to IA. The path chosen was the South Omaha bridge, seen here.
As you can see, there is quite a bit of flooding in Omaha. Flying in and out, entire farms are under water, and the flood level is the greatest I’ve ever seen anywhere.
As we ventured further into the country, off route, the bars got classier.
The beer was still cold, and the smiles….warm.
After sufficient fueling, we crossed into Iowa.
As we neared the overnight town, it became more evident that RAGBRAI was in the air…
Finally, with the heat index pushing 107, we rolled into Glenwood.
When on The Ragbrai, you know that you are nearing a town because the tallest thing around is their water tower.
We cruised into town and hit the Oasis bar, mainly because it had AC. We were able to hang with locals, and cycling friends alike.
In true midwest fashion, the tornado sirens went off at about 6pm. We hung in the bar while a huge thunderstorm rolled along just to the south of us. Tom took the time to discuss with one of the locals her evacuation plan in the event of severe weather.
After the “all clear” we paid our tab and promptly found Belvis and Steve – who guided us to our overnight camping spot.
Some time during the night, the Roses arrived, and in the light of the morning we exchanged hellos and hugs.
It was then time to hit the road.
And by hit the road, I mean destroy every inch of it.
It was a beautiful day, but hot. Hot and muggy. So we stopped a lot…in this case, for less than ideal coffee.
Then it was back on the road.
A pre-lunch pork chop can be had at Mr. Porkchop.
Our half-way city for our on-route day was Carson, IA.
They had bands, food and beer gardens.
After a relaxing afternoon in Carson, Tom and I decided to backtrack to Silver City for the evening. We said our goodbye’s to our crew, and took off west into the blazing sunshine. Once in Silver City, we commandeered Austins on the Trail, where we quietly closed it down to be in the AC as long as possible. They were kind enough to feed us, water us, and allow us to stay till midnight, when we had to retreat to the local city park for accommodations.
The Trail is the Wabash Trace Trail, a nationally known gravel trail….it got us back to Omaha in the morning.
You’ll see many things on the Trace…
We stopped in Mineola at the bar that does the taco race…a race on the trail from Omaha to Mineola.
The coffee was excellent.
Then it was back on the trail.
Eventually we made it back to Omaha, where we had lunch at the Radial once again and noticed that Omaha is rather impressive in its cycling laws…
Then back to Greenstreet, aka RAGBRAI HQ, for bike packing, our goodbyes, and a ride to the airport.
RAGBRAI is the oldest, best and biggest bike tour in the US. Its a blast if you are on course, off course, a day late, a dollar short, etc. Its fun to dirty bag it, but AC is quite refreshing after you’ve been in your chamois all day. Ragbrai brings people together, your friends – or people who will soon be your friends. You have everything from family fun to nakedness….just not at the same time. I’ve said it before and its still true. RAGBRAI is the best cycling event I’ve ever done. Some of my favorite people in the cycling community do it…and you never know exactly who, or what you’ll find on the backroads of Iowa.