OSKALOOSA — Hi mom, I’m in Oskaloosa. This is Rod Schultz (Camanche High School, Class of 1986). Yes, I’m on Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa again for my 10th full year, with my first trip back in 1983. It is hard to believe how much this ride has changed in 30 years, yet so much has stayed the same. Scott Morgan and Jeff Moore could agree with me when we say “back in the day...”
Ted Schultz (no relation) is taking the night off and allowing me time to write this. By now I’m sure he is taking a nap under a shade tree in his tent. Recharge, Ted, recharge.
I’m riding with Team Beloit, new from Beloit College, a private liberal arts college, in Beloit Wis., where I now work in development and alumni relations. The five faculty and staff I brought along on this wonderful adventure across Iowa are all new to the hills of this slice of the country. Let’s just call it scenic for good measure. And why not? Our week has been spectacular and the roads fantastic! Wearing our Beloit College cycling jerseys, many of us have been able to flush out alumni, parents and friends of the college so that we can connect, share good stories and thank them for their support. Mark Wold, Kim Zarling, Phil Shields, Christina Eddington, Breeze Jacobson and I are that team.
I found a great laptop to work from in Fellowship Bible Church after learning about this place from a nice young girl handing out freezer pops just up the road.
However, lets start from the beginning. Our Thursday morning had us waking up in Knoxville on the lush grass of a softball field next to the Speedway. Rolling out of town we had cool breezes and blue skies all the way to Lake Red Rock, across the dam, and into the scenic town of Pella. It was here that we had some tasty Dutch letters, tried on some wooden shoes, and posed on a bicycle built for 21 (3 rows of 7). Since our day was 52 miles with 2,800 feet of climb, cyclists have been enjoying the towns along the way, boosting the economy, and eating great food without any caloric guilt.
Throughout the week I’ve talked with people from all around the country, and also Dennis from London. Today was no exception. People are so happy to be riding with the thousands of other cyclists from all walks of life. I’m especially thankful for the USAF cycling team for their work in helping riders who break down on the side of the road.
Speaking of which, riding alongside my colleague, Mark, I heard a loud explosion, which was the unmistakable sound of a blown out tube. However, his was much worse. Right down the middle of the tire was a near one inch gash where the actual tire separated. Thinking back to a magazine article I read, we put a tube patch on the inside of the tire and then a folded one dollar bill to reinforce it. President Washington would have been proud. After riding slowly into Bussey we found a new tire from a bike mechanic and then proceeded to get lunch! What? None other than a pizza cooked in a brick oven mounted on the back of a converted fire truck.
With a new tire on his bike and carbs to carry us through, we flew into Beacon to stop near a cheering crowd. Yes, it was a “Huffy-chucking” contest. After my donation to youth counseling services, I had the opportunity to have three attempts to heave a children’s Huffy bike as far as I could. Top five made a place on the leader board but my respectable sixth place didn’t quite make it. However, once Mark and I stopped laughing and caught our breath, we then finished the ride into Oskaloosa where my colleagues are soaking at the school pool and I write this article.
As I reflect back on my 30-year span on RAGBRAI it reminds me that while the ride is an adventure, it is merely the means to talk with so many great people from around the country and the world. I look forward to the day my children can join me on Team Beloit. For now, Go Bucs! Thanks again, mom and dad, for supporting my bike enthusiasm “back in the day...”