CLINTON — In late May, while at Waukee High School for the Iowa State Pentathlon competition, where I was helping coach a group of Clinton girls, the memories of RAGBRAI 2006 came rushing back.

It was on those very grounds where riders participating in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa were encouraged to take shelter inside the school as inclement weather approached on a Tuesday night.

I waited with the riders inside the school for about an hour and it still hadn’t rained, so I headed back to my tent. Then the rains came … and came … and came. As mentioned in a column last year, the lightning and rain reminded me of the start of “Gilligan’s Island” where the Skipper and Gilligan were trying to save the tiny ship that was being tossed.

The eventual result of the storm was not terribly desirable. I had about two inches of water in the portions of my tent floor that were lowest. I smashed all of my belongings and myself into a corner of the tent to stay as dry as possible.

That become quite uncomfortable, so I headed for the men’s bathroom at Waukee Stadium and slept for a few hours on the floor.

When the rain finally stopped and I got tired of the bathroom door slamming as people entered and exited, I went to the asphalt near the concession stand, laid on my big duffel bag and slept for about an hour and a half until it was time to load up my stuff and begin the next portion of the ride.

That night in Waukee was just one of many things that made RAGBRAI 2006 an exciting adventure (even if it didn’t seem so exciting as my tent filled up with water).

Other memories include:

n A tough ride on the second day as riders battled the three evil H’s — heat, hills and headwind.

n The opportunity to see family members in Kiron, my hometown, and visiting with other friends such as Stacy Boerema, Jayna Gossling and Graham Hill at various points along the way.

n The VERY short ride from Marengo to Coralville. While most RAGBRAI days average in the 70-mile range, that day was under 50. The distance, coupled with the fact that there were very few pass-through towns, meant I got to Coralville at 9:35 a.m. instead of my usual arrival time of noon or 1 p.m.

The overall excitement of my experiences on RAGBRAI in 2004 and 2006 has me pumped up to do this year’s ride, which starts Sunday morning in the far northwest Iowa town of Rock Rapids.

From there it’s on to Spencer, Humboldt, Hampton, Cedar Falls, Independence and Dyersville before ending in Bellevue.

Like other years, I will again share my experiences in each day’s Herald as well as on the newspaper’s Web site.

I’ve heard many compliments about my RAGBRAI columns in the past and hope to again keep you informed and entertained.

Since this year’s route is allegedly less hilly than many years, I’ve decided to take my recumbent bicycle on the trek.

I bought the bicycle about a year and a half ago and am pleased with it, although it does appear to be a “different” type of pedaling than a traditional bicycle since you’re in a different position.

It also pedals much more slowly up hills since the rider’s weight is further back, but it is more comfortable (you’re in a traditional sitting position and not hunched over), goes down hills pretty quickly and doesn’t seem to be affected as much by wind.

Because a recumbent sits so low, it’s a wise idea to have a safety flag on the back. I have three flags — a United States flag, a Nebraska Cornhusker flag and an excellent-looking Clinton track/cross country flag made by one of the runners I coach, Kate Callan.

My only regret is I’ll miss seeing the Clinton River Kings play in the state baseball tournament Wednesday

I know many of the players through baseball and other sports and wish them the best.

I’ve rehashed many of the team’s games over the past few months with River King pitcher/outfielder Ryan Hovey as he umpires my men’s slow-pitch softball games (and, for the record, even though he’s one of the younger umpires up there, he’s also one of the best!).

Best of luck to Ryan and his teammates as they face Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

Well, I better get going — I have to pack my things so I can get to Rock Rapids.

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