Tuesday's journey on RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) may have been the longest of the three days so far this year, but it was by far the easiest.
The 71-mile trip from Carroll to Boone had less than 1,800 feet of climb after riders endured climbs in the 4,000-foot range the two previous days.
Let me go back to Monday first as we spent the night in Carroll. I saw a wonderful entertainment act, Piano-palooza, where two pianists would perform any song the crowd requested. I also got to see my sister, Karla Woolridge, and her husband Scott, as they were at the house of a co-worker of Karla's who was housing RAGBRAI participants.
Tuesday’s ride began with a 10-mile trip to Lidderdale and nine-miler to Lanesboro. The conditions were perfect, and it was completely FLAT! I had a nice conversation during this time with a car salesman from Wausau, Wis., who was doing six days of RAGBRAI, renting a car Friday night in Iowa City, then driving to Davenport to run the Bix on Saturday. Yowza, that's more ambitious than me.
From there it was 13 miles to Churdan, where we did encounter one decent-sized hill. During the next 12 miles to Paton, I stopped to see a pond trapeze, where participants could swing out over a farm pond and get cooled off.
Paton greeted us with signs every half mile or so counting down from 10, this to honor hometown hero Loren Shriver, an astronaut who was allegedly riding on Tuesday.
From Paton it was another 13 miles to Pilot Mound, where T-shirts and buttons were being sold to commemorate Twister Hill. What's that, you ask? We found out very quickly after leaving Pilot Mound.
Twister Hill got its name after serving as a shooting site for the movie "Twister" and after a nice descent makes a sharp climb out of the Des Moines River valley.
As for the hill, it wasn't as hard as Potter Hill on last year's RAGBRAI, but I can honestly say it was the second-toughest hill I have EVER climbed on my bike. Somebody riding next to me estimated about half of the cyclists got off and walked their bikes to the top, but not me. I huffed and puffed, but made it. After that, it was a generally flat trip into Boone for the night.
Today we're heading to Altoona. I'll check with you later.
Ted Schultz is a former Clinton Herald sports editor. He is now sports information director with Grinnell College.