DYERSVILLE _ The Beast came to the rescue Thursday night.

The Beast, as it's commonly known amongst myself and RAGBRAI personnel who unload riders' luggage from the semi trailer on a daily basis, is my tent cot.

What is a tent cot, you ask?

It's basically what it says, a cot with a tent built over it that I purchased from Cabela's.

It's drawn a rave review from fellow riders on the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. I've already had dozens of people inquire about it.

I decided to purchase it after having two inches of water flow into my tent during last year's RAGBRAI.

Now that I'm a foot-and-a-half above the ground, and the tent cot has a nice rain cover, I know I'll be high and dry no matter the conditions.

I'm not sure the people who unpack the trailer like it as much as me since it's pretty awkward and heavy.

Typically, when going to pick up luggage, they check the tag on the bag to the tag on the rider's wrist to make sure they match.

Earlier in the week, when I went to pick up my tent cot, the person checking tags said, "I don't even need to check you ... nobody would steal something that heavy."

Therefore, the contraption has become known as The Beast to all involved.

We spent Thursday night in Independence. After an entire RAGBRAI with no rain, it finally hit us shortly after 8 p.m.

With me cuddled inside The Beast with the rain protector as a cover, I never got a single ounce of moisture in my tent.

At the same time, others scurried for the nearby school as their tents filled with water.

Mission accomplished, Beast!

Friday's route began with a 14 mile journey to Winthrop under overcast skies and a slight mist. In fact, it was even a bit cold.

After that it was nearly 14 more miles to Lamont.

When entering the town, I couldn't resist the temptation. As I gazed at the town sign, I blurted out in a gravely voice, "Lamont, you big dummy."

OK, for those of you under 30 or who don't watch TV Land, that "Sanford and Son" reference means nothing.

But it did to the guy riding next to me who said, "I was just thinking the same thing" after which he began humming the "Sanford and Son" theme song.

From there it was 11 miles to Dundee and about another 11 to Manchester.

On the latter trek, signs were set up at about 200 meter intervals with names of famous Iowans.

This went on for miles and miles, showing me we had more famous people from this state than I realized. And, other than one musician, I had heard of them all.

After that it was another 10 miles to Earlville, where I took a long stop before heading the last eight miles to Dyersville.

The sun finally came out over the last stretch, which has me optimistic for good weather the rest of the day.

If not, The Beast will be ready!

In fact, when setting up The Beast I had a guy come over and say, "I've seen this in the campground and want to see you set it up."

Suddenly I felt like I was on an infomercial. A small crowd gathered as I explained each step, and then afterwards proclaimed, "See, it sets up in three minutes."

I should have added, "And if you call in the next 10 minutes, we'll cut your five payments of $45 down to four payments ... and we'll throw in a free sleeping bag."

We finish our journey Saturday with a short trek to Bellevue. I'll check in later.

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