Today’s Stats:

58.6 miles            Start Town: Altoona

4hrs 12 min          End Town: Grinell

13.2 mph             Start Temp 77'F - End Temp 81'F

Photo: Eli waiting for Bag TruckToday our journey began with a 20 minute cab ride from the hotel in Des Moines to Altoona to pick up our bikes and drop off our bags.  Easy baggage delivery day to say the least!  We began our ride at a little after 5 a.m., with a reasonably flat ride to start with.  The flat ride all changed really fast as we started our 3,500+ feet of climb for the day.  We were so early on this morning’s ride that by the time we got to the second town, which happened to be today’s meeting town, none of the vendors were set up yet.  I didn’t get to eat at Eli’s favorite breakfast place – Breakfast Guys and Gals.  There are still two days left of this year’s RAGBRAI, and I intend to eat breakfast there before the end!  We were able to eat at the Farm Boy’s breakfast stop, and were about their third customers of the day.  Early in the ride, just before sunrise, there were clouds around us on the horizon in every direction but none above us.  The sliver of a moon looked awesome this morning at twilight.  Kind of wondered if we’d be in for another scorcher of a day…  Once the sun was up the clouds did move overhead, so we ended up with cloud cover for the entire ride.

Photo: Sunrise with the open Iowa road

Leaving the town of Colfax we were in for a very special treat (not), a 10-11 percent hill to climb.  Boo!  Brian waited until we were at the top of the hill to tell me this fact.  We stopped in the town of Baxter and had a snack as we knew the climb would definitely continue and we needed to fuel up!  Two miles before Baxter we rode on a wonderful rail to trail path and cut our roller coaster hill climb for a while.  With only a 1 percent incline it was much more tolerable, and the scenery was awesome!  A few more of the RAGBRAI riders opted to take this route too. 

The Chichaqua Valley Bike TrailThe only other area between Baxter and our end town of Grinnell (28 mile stretch) was the Rock Creek State Park.  Beautiful area, but not many places to fill up along the way.  We stopped at the Iowa Conservation Tent to fill out one more postcard for Jada,  pick up our free bananas, and fill up the water bottles.  A few miles down the road we stopped at the Peanut Butter Jam for a sandwich. 

We gobbled down our PB&J’s, and were just finished when it began to sprinkle. (9:52am)  Whew!  That felt good.  We wrapped our small bag in plastic just in case of a down pour, but only a few drops cooled us off.  Just before entering Grinnell we encountered a few more sprinkles, and the headwind kicked in.  You can’t win them all!  At least the temperature was below 80!                  A Patriotic BikerA couple miles from Grinnell we saw one poor rider who didn’t make the corner, and was lying in the ditch.  There was a sheriff tending to his injuries, so we didn’t stop.  After three more massive hill climbs we entered flat roads on our way to the baggage truck.  The ride from there to our host’s home was flat too, and we were extremely happy for no hilly town riding!

We met our host Joe, who Eli found through Couch Surfing.  What a wonderful fellow!  He is a third year college student, and a VERY amazing individual.  Before we left with him to ride through town center, he let us try his homemade kefir.  What a treat!  When we reached town center, we ate several snacks including some decadent desserts.  Not sure if I’ll be hungry for dinner…

Joe making his home made KefirThe home that we are staying in belongs to two of Joe’s professors.  He is house sitting for them for a few weeks, and got their permission to host a few RAGBRAI riders.  The home was built at the turn of the century, and is quite amazing and unique.  It has been remodeled through the years, and the kitchen and bathrooms are modern and beautiful.  The master bath shower has two shower heads, and there is a giant Jacuzzi tub in there too.  The tile work and flooring throughout the home are beautiful, and there are SO many interesting pieces of furniture, knick knacks, and reading materials.  We are extremely lucky this year with our RAGBRAI hosts!!!

Enough for now!