Monday, July 30, 2012

RAGBRAI-- Ups & Downs...

Tonight, I'm writing this as I sit in my hotel room in Cheyenne, WY. I'm on my way back to Utah and have had a week of ups and downs. I first left for my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; last Thursday evening with an optimistic plan of doing a bit of visiting with family and then doing RAGBRAI.

Well, even the best laid plans seem to change. I did some visiting and started RAGBRAI. I managed the first three days of RAGBRAI. The worst three days as far as heat and humidity that RAGBRAI has ever seen in its 40 years (go figure!). All three days were 99 or above with one day climbing up to 104 degrees with 80% humidity. Oh and did I mention there were winds that were up to 20 mph too? These were some tough days and I really found that the humidity was getting to me.

But I will say that those three days of RAGBRAI were amazing! It was a sea of bicycles as far as the eye could see along the wonderful hilly landscape of Iowa's corn and soybean fields. There were people all along the Iowa roads that were cheering you on; some were selling water, cookies, or almost everything. Some were not selling but giving water out for free, or offering to douse you with their hose, or even others were handing out frozen pops. Main streets in small Iowa towns were closed down just to bicycle traffic and filled up with vendors offer to sell food or wares to the cyclists that came through the town. It was just AMAZING! I don't know how else to describe it.

There were tons of references to corn, soybeans, and pigs.  In fact, some of the signage for the ride had me cracking up.  One advertisement had a sign of showing corn with a picture and then soybeans.  Then underneath it said-- RAGBRAI- Need we say anymore? 

There were plenty of things that would only EVER be seen on RAGBRAI.  There were pink buses that were serving up pork chop sandwiches and plenty of riders were enjoying them at what some may consider the un-Godly hour of 10AM.  As one co-team member put it,"Where else could you have 20 cyclists at 10am sitting on the side of the road eating pork chops and thinking that this was the BEST meal ever?!?!"  

FOOD, food, and more food!  There were hard boil eggs on a stick and bacon on a stick being sold right along with bottled water and gatorade.  There was bicycle jewelry being sold next to temporary tattoos.  Breakfast sandwiches, pancakes with sausage, and tacos with eggs were commonly seen too.  Later on you would see smoothies, pizza, brats, tacos, pies, pastries and almost any kind of food you could EVER think of.  One fellow rider said that this ride was ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!  And from what I saw that was VERY true!

I was rather even surprised by the beer and bloody marys that were being sold at 8AM as you're going along.  There were a few cyclists doing that but it wasn't really a majority as I had almost been lead to believe from the rumors that I heard prior.  Most riders were partaking of those beverages after they were done for the day and then limiting what they consumed because they were riding the next day.  Dehydration was a concern and most cyclist that I met were mindful of that.
Photo: Boys-N-Cars watercolor I did of my nephews for a Father's Day present.
The youngest one here is the one with dark hair.

My second day was the worst. I had received a phone call from my little brother the night before that my youngest nephew had passed away due to complications after a surgery. He was only 13 years old. I was rather a bit of a basket case that day and only managed to ride 47 miles of the 85 miles that I should have rode. My head and heart just were not in it. I found I could not keep food down and when you are riding that is NEVER a good sign to have. I ended up getting SAG'd in that day. I did manage the next day's ride but then had to call for help when I was brain dead trying to find the host house. The combo of riding 84 miles with 104 degree humid heat just left me STUPID.

Wednesday night I managed to get a ride back to my mom's. I had opted not to ride on Thursday to give my body a bit of a break but I also needed to be back for a viewing(Friday) and funeral(Saturday). That basically meant that RAGBRAI was over for me. I was disappointed BUT I needed to be else where.  Jerryd my upbeat little nephew who always had a smile will be missed.  Only the good die young and in this case that statement is very true.  He always had a smile and seemed to be easy to please.  Rest in peace little man!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Off to IOWA...

I'm off to Iowa this afternoon after putting in a half day at work.  I'm breaking up the long drive from Utah to Iowa into two days.  I figured to make it more manageable.  There was a time in the past when I was younger that I used to do the 19 hour drive in one day.  What can I say but I was young and crazy!  I'm SO excited to be heading back there to do RAGBRAI; a week long event of bicycling across the state of Iowa. 
Photo- of myself and a couple of my cycling buds
that I'll be missing this next week.

I'm hoping that I've prepared enough.  I've managed to get about 175 miles of cycling in the last week.  My main concern is how the humidity will effect me while cycling.  I hope that cycling with 100 plus temps here in Utah will have helped me to prepare but there's no telling until the real thing takes place.  Let's just hope I can do it.  This is the first time I've ever done a touring event like this and I've probably have over packed as is my normal thing to do.  Oh those Girl Scout tendencies come up every now and then.

I've left myself an out on the fourth day if I just find I can't do it.  The fourth day of the riding event goes through my hometown and I've told my mom that I may end up calling it quits at that point.  I'm planning on staying with her that night; enjoy a nice hot shower, do some laundry, etc..  If I can't see myself going any further that next morning; I may end up with a longer visit at Mom's place.

Photo- "Mom's Flowers"; a piece comissioned by my mom
that I've sent her photos to and I hope she likes the real thing to. 
Yes, I painted this!  You can read more about the piece by clicking here.
This morning, it looks like the forecast for Iowa will be in the low 90's for the week with varying directions of winds of about 10mph.  I didn't check to see what the predicted percent of humidity was.  I must admit that I'm in one of those "ignorance is bliss" modes.  I grew up in it and I'm hoping that some where in there that my body may surprise me and adapt to the situation.  So keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wicked Witch of the West Ride...

Last night as the temperature soared to 102 degrees in the Salt Lake Valley, I was crazy enough to plan on doing the Emigration Bike Ride.  I figured it would be good preparation for the RAGBRAI that I’m going to do in a couple of weeks.  Unlike last week’s Emigration ride which was 100 degrees at the start.  There was at least a little breeze last night.  I was teasing one of the gals that did the ride with me last week that we were doing the Wicked Witch of the West reunion ride.  She laughed but some of the other people at the start looked at me warily when I said that.  Then, in a crackling voice with some hand motions I cried, “I’m MELT- ting! I’m melting!”  Then everyone was cracking up!

I had recently gotten a new replacement seat for my bike.  The old torn seat that had survived a totaled bike accident in 2007 was getting pretty cracked and worn.  It was time for a new one.  It was on the way towards the canyon that I discovered it wasn’t tightened down enough.  I swung by a local near by bike shop and they helped out really quickly.  But I got separated from the group for a bit.  I pushed it a bit and caught up finally about a mile in the canyon with the gal I rode with last week.  It was as I was coming up behind her that I cackled a laugh and said,” I’ll get you my pretty!”  It was just TOO funny.

After doing that, I slowed down and took it easy.  I waited up for another cycling bud to catch up and we managed our way to the top at a much slower pace.  No racing tonight with 100+ temps.  The name of the game was just getting there to the top.  Four people ended up turning around early because the heat got to them.  It was a night where I savored that coast down the canyon.  I didn’t pedal until I had to and just let myself go along for the easy ride down.  I deserved it!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catching Up, Checking In, & Etc...

It’s been about three weeks since I’ve been on here.  Life gets busy and I have dropped the ball on my postings here.  There’s been a great deal going on.  I’ve been trying to get more cycling in for preparing for RAGBRAI that I will be going back to Iowa for in less than 15 days.  I just got a suggested list of what to bring today and need to start doing a prelim packing.  This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this and I’m still not sure what to expect. 

I’ve also had a bit of a “maintenance” issue with my apartment and had a weekend that I stayed in a hotel.  Thank goodness the Utah Arts Festival was going on and I just made a mini vacation weekend of it.  I’ve still managed to do a bit of painting.  I’m currently trying to do a bit of catching up with a couple of commissioned pieces. 

Then, more recently they’ve done some changes of job responsibilities at my work.  I’ve been doing some training and just haven’t had the time that I normally would have to jump on here and upload a post.  They’ve referred to my new job responsibilities as a job “promotion” but at the same amount of pay.  But they did say that they would re-evaluate in 4 months.  Hmmm…. Not sure how that works and not too sure if I’m really happy about the whole thing.  But I’m playing along for now.  I’m rather in a wait-n-see mode.

 Checking In…
AND since this is a Friday, I’ll do a quick check up and a late end of month report.  As far as weighing in, I’m at still needing to lose 8 lbs. to my goal.  It seems to be a constant now without even trying.  I was rather hoping that with doing more cycling that my weight would have dropped down but I will admit that I’m probably eating more because I’m cycling more—so I guess you could say it’s a bit of a vicious circle in that sense.  Darn it!

Month End…

1)      Saving Money—Did very well this last month with this one.  I managed to save 3o% more than what I had planned for the month.  Most of that was thanks to the art booth I had up at the Little Red Riding Hood Bike ride at the beginning of the month.  I’m hoping to be able to put some more in savings this month with catching up with some commissions.

2)      Uncluttering My Life—Well, the “maintenance” issue in my apartment helped me out HUGELY with this goal this last month.  It forced me to go through some closet areas and other things. But I had already also donated quite a bit of stuff to a local Boy Scout troop for a HUGE Yard Sale they had in Mid-June.  Between those two events, I’ve managed to cut back on quite a bit of the items I don’t need and don’t use.  Amazing sometimes what we decide to hold on to.

3)      Cutting Down on Eating Out—Not good this month either!  There wasn’t enough time to cook at home between the cycling and the “maintenance” issue.  So drive thru’s became some what of the norm for my dinner meals, I will admit.

STATS For June…
383 miles Cycling
13.5 miles Running
47 mintues on the elliptical
And I’m now up to
28 Books read for the year!
(I think 60 books is attainable!)