PERRY — While Sunday’s opening day of RAGBRAI was a breeze, riders found Monday to be a different story.
Not only was the 83-mile route from Harlan to Perry the longest of the 2013 Register’s Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, but also the hilliest.
All told, riders climbed (and climbed) 4,239 feet on the trip.
Though I knew it would be a long day, I didn’t get on the road as early Monday as the previous day. The 15-mile ride to Kimballton included plenty of areas of low-lying fog, which was quite cool (cool as in a bit cold, but I suppose also just pretty cool) when riding through it.
Then it was 10 miles to Hamlin, where the hills picked up, and then another 21 miles to Guthrie Center (hometown of my friend and the Clinton Herald’s own, Sherri Enwright). Guthrie Center’s park was filled with vendors, games, you name it, which entertained all of us tired riders. That town can be proud of its accomplishment as a pass-through community.
After a nine-mile trip to and then through beautiful Steamboat State Park, we got nailed with what I’m guessing will be the toughest hill on the route this year.
I’d been warned some time earlier by another rider who knew the area, and he wasn’t kidding. Mockingbird Hill, as the locals called it, was a steep half-mile long stretch. Some riders didn’t even attempt it, getting off their bikes and pushing them up the entire way (that would be tiring, I’d suspect).
Another great percentage of riders got off their bikes part way up to push.
Proud to say I rode the entire thing, and actually, I don’t think it was quite as tough as the nasty hill we had out of Lehigh last year. But don’t get me wrong … I wouldn’t want to bike Mockingbird Hill on a regular basis by any stretch.
Another six miles brought me to Yale, where the warm temperatures were starting to take a toll on some riders. This was evident by the fact that after Yale, a 15-mile trip to Washington Township, riders made two or three stops at roadside vendors instead of riding the 15 miles straight through.
Needing some quick energy at Washington Township, I noticed a vendor selling banana bread. I had two pieces and it was fantastic. Best food I’ve had on RAGBRAI this year.
After that we had a nice seven-mile trip into Perry, where we’ll spend the night as we prepare for tomorrow’s ride to Des Moines.