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Jul. 27, 2009
RAGBRAI—The Final Legs
Aliy and her crew lost contact with the interwebs while finishing up their journey from the Missouri River to the Mississippi.

Read on for their story from the roads of Iowa. Days 3-7 of RAGBRAI, a bit delayed.

Day 3: Everyday is a Spandex Party Day

If you aren’t a fan of spandex, maybe RGBRAI isn’t for you. Lucky for us, we LOVE spandex and all the fun it brings out…or keeps in. Whether you’re in red, green, black, or yellow, on RAGBRAI, less is more and tube socks are NOT allowed. The all-day bicycle fest plus the Iowa heat and humidity makes for a chance to wear something to the bar that you never thought was possible.

Today we passed through some loverly towns with some really great celebrations. We’ve discovered that the act of drinking cans of Bud Light or Fat Tire hold a significant importance to the tradition of RAGBRAI. Hearing people say that the parties have tamed down over the years is hard to believe. In case you do indulge in one too many cans, or just can’t handle the large Iowa hills, the SAG Wagon'll be trailing behind to help complete the day's ride (via a bike trailer and a van!). So far, no SAG Wagon for us!

3 days down, 239.7 miles to go...

Day 4: Things are Heating Up!

This statement's true in so many ways…

Our legs—feeling the burn as we’ve climbed a total of 15,432 feet to date.

Our butts—Butt Butter can only hold friction off for so many hours. We’ll keep it at that.

The weather—temperatures today soared, and we were feeling it. As the sweat poured and temperatures climbed, we had our first “What the heck am I doing here” moment…that is, until we approached a glorious sight. Just off the side of today’s route was a pool party, of sorts—a farm pond plus RAGBRAI equals dives, flips, belly flops, and exposure to some pretty mean kit tans.

4 days down, 195.3 miles to go...

Day 5: It’s not about the bike

It’s about the food…
Beyond following the signs and riding safely, your nourishment is the next most important part of the day. In between Mojo bars and Shot Bloks we found enough time to indulge on some authentic RAGBRAI cuisine. Delicious.

The Pork Chop Guy, Pastafari, Farm Boys, Pie, Pizza on Wheels, and Corn Dogs all made their way to our bellies. When you're burning upwards of 4,000 calories a day, you're able to indulge!

Unfortunately not everyone was able to get everything they wanted. Sorry, Eric; walking Taco’s will have to wait till next year.

It’s about the fun…
RAGBRAI is no joke; it’s serious fun. - Brian

It’s about the people…
Thousands upon thousands of riders cover miles of the route and fill towns, at times up to 50 times their population. Yet everyone treats you like you're a part of their own family: free water, food, and beer are common bartering devices. Families hanging out in their front lawns waving, saying hello, and asking where you're from—at times it felt like we were part of a week-long parade.

Then, there are the riders you meet along the way. We met a man from Florida who's made the trek to ride RAGBRAI for 16 consecutive years, a group from San Francisco, and a handful of people from Kentucky, Texas, Colorado, New York, Canada, and even England. RAGBRAI's the largest, longest, and oldest bike tour in the world and it brings people in from all over to guarantee next year’s ride.

It’s about the hospitality…
From bands to petting farms, beer gardens, and free showers—we've been welcomed all week by the nicest, most caring, and happy Iowans around. We pitched our tents at two households, both of which provided a much-needed break from the public campgrounds and porto potty’s (aka KYBOs). One home even provided us with a delicious bar-b-que and an evening full of really bad karaoke…nobody ever said cyclists were great singers.

5 days down, 118.4 miles to go...

Day 6: Slip n’ Slide's not just for kids

No matter the day and the distance, we’ve managed to stretch out each leg of the journey to 11 hours. While you may think it's because of excessive spandex dance parties along the way—that’s not entirely true. You can only dance to “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, “Jack and Diane”, and Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” about zero times…so hearing these songs 8 times a day can get a little excessive.


Today’s 11-hour journey offered us a first of a long standing RAGBRAI tradition—the giant slip’n’slide. Almost as refreshing as the farm pond in the middle of nowhere, the slip’n’slide forces you to act like a school-kid again. Riders took the liberty of making each trip down the baby oil-covered plastic more entertaining and extreme as the one before. We still never found the guy who came sprinting out of the corn fields wearing nothing but a Nacho Libre-style wrestling mask…nothing more.

Tonight we met a man who's on his fifteenth RAGBRAI ride. What keeps him coming back? The fact that it gives him a chance to live the life of an 11 year-old for one week every year—riding his bike and camping out with no cares in the world. We're now beginning to fully understand the true magic of RAGBRAI.

6 days down, 43.9 miles to go...

Day 7: The Mississippi Dip

Yep; we made it to Burlington and dipped our front tires in the Mississippi River. After 7 days of riding, 472 miles, and 22,800 feet of climbing, we were thrilled to jump off our saddles.

The last twenty miles of the ride was a WONDERFUL downhill with a really pleasant tailwind—a bonus treat as we rolled toward the finish. Coming into Burlington gave us a sense of accomplishment and joy—WE MADE IT…almost. As we finished the week of hills, flat tires, rain, wind, sweat, blood and tears, we were met by the infamous Snake Alley—a steep, switch-back, cobble stone road that must have been paved before the level was invented.

With a final surge of adrenaline and cheering crowds, we pushed our way to the top feeling like we had completed a mountain stage in the tour. Watch our Garmin-Slipstream—Team Clif Bar has conquered RAGBRAI and we're ready to keep on rolling.

7 days down, 472 miles completed.

Until RAGBRAI 2010,

Eric, Adam, Brian, and Aliy
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About this Blog

We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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