Doing the virtual RAGBRAI bike tour

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Let's get this out of the way: I've never biked RAGBRAI, the grand-daddy of all across-state bicycle tours, and I'm not there this year.

But I like to check in with the biggest week-long bike tour in the US to learn about storms, excessively hot weather, or beer shortages that might be plaguing the 10,000-some bike riders.

That's easier than ever this year, as ride sponsor Des Moines Register is hosting aTwitter, blog and share photos page on its website, in addition to articles and photos taken by its own staff. The newspaper is the main sponsor and owner of the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, now in its 36th year.


What have I learned from checking out that “virtual RAGBRAI” page?

One rider's photo shows bicyclists stretched from one side of a rural road to the other, and it still looks crowded at that. I hope motorists have learned to just avoid those roads altogether during RAGBRAI.

A lot of omelets were sold Sunday morning, according to one Twitter, but the Chris Cakes pancake flippers — lean manufacturing's answer to breakfast preparation — were on the job as well.

One blogger found it opportune to wait until 40 miles into the ride for the first beer. Some other commenters mentioned RAGBRAI wasn't necessarily all boozing, there were family aspects and just plain bicycle touring aspects as well.

And another Twitter complained about the early-rising campers clicking their tent poles in the dark.

If you want to see more RAGBRAI blogs, check out the “Googling RAGBRAI” link at the Feed Zone. One four-year veteran, CoeBRAI, gives the advice that losing 50 pounds makes RAGBRAI a lot easier. (Is that an actual Elvis spotting?)

Monday is the second day for RAGBRAI, which took off from Missouri Valley on Sunday morning for Harlan. The city was wired for WI-FI, which explains why so many people were able to file.

Riders leave Harlan this morning for Jefferson this afternoon. The Register preview reports:

“With more than 75 trains coming through Jefferson each day and with the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower chiming every quarter hour, Jefferson's RAGBRAI theme, “Jefferson: All the Bells and Whistles,” fits perfectly.”

How is anyone going to get any sleep?

Other upcoming towns include Ames, Tama-Toledo, North Liberty, Tipton, with a finish in Le Claire.

— Just had a weird flashback to last September when I had my prostate cancer surgery. One of the anesthesiologists said he had done RAGBRAI and thought I would enjoy it. Never thought of that until now.

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