New Photos (Saturday 9:15 a.m.)
I've added some of my favorite pictures from the week on RAGBRAI: the muddiest water slide, a pet raccoon, pennyfarthings, mustache Monday, and lots more.
How I almost got a ticket for passing on Ragbrai (Thursday 10:30 a.m.)
On the official Ragbrai route, bikes typically rule the road. And, most vehicles typically respect that for one week a year.
Occasionally, an uncooperative vehicle slips on the route, and that's where this post begins.
I was riding with a group of about 10 people west of Roland when a silver pickup traveling the same direction blazed by in the wrong lane going 50 to 60 miles per hour, engine roaring. It's an unnerving feeling being on a bike, and a few of the bikers yelled at him to slow down.
A mile later we see the same truck stopped behind a few vehicles, and at a safe opportunity, we pass. As we did, the driver rolls down his window and yelled at us that we shouldn't be passing there.
Traveling in a group at 15 mph, stopping at that moment isn't a safe option. Sure enough, the pickup blazes by again, pulls onto a side road, parks his car and this next part left my jaw hanging. The person gets out of his vehicle, walks directly into the Ragbrai route and stands with his arms extended, palms facing us.
As we get close, we can see it's a police officer. He directs us to stop - still in the center of the road - and says "We are going to have a little talk about the rules of the road."
One of the cyclists asks if we should we move to the side of the road, which the officer decides is a good idea.
As he approached us, I could make out his badge: Huxley police.
Let me interject here. Ninety-nine percent of the officers I've come across in my 10 years on Ragbrai, typically state patrol or local sheriffs, are awesome. They staff the route's intersections so cars don't shoot through, they have our backs when automobiles are driving recklessly, and generally are there to keep us safe. And, Ragbrai riders are grateful and we tell them so.
Back to the story.
As we settle in for our information session, you can see the officer is mad. His face is red. He unclips the accessories on his belt signaling he is ready if we give him trouble. He proceeds to explain that just because we are on Ragbrai doesn't mean we can pass on a solid yellow line. It's full-on 'respect my authority' lecture from dad. "Do you guys think you're special? Do you think you don't have to follow the law?"
"I could write everyone of you tickets right now," he tells us.
We all nodded, and "yessired" our way through it unscathed. And, we all left with a story to tell our friends at the next stop.
Maybe he was having a bad day, but certainly he didn't get the rules of Ragbrai.
Why you won't hear about what's happened on the first few days of RAGBRAI (Wednesday, 11:15 a.m.)
The beginning of 2012 has been a bit like a trip to Las Vegas - what happens here stays here.
There's been some 'God, that was embarrassing moments.' But that's not it at all. I love sharing all the embarrassing details of my trip -- wearing Fruit of the Looms on the outside of my bike shorts as part of an unusual initiation ceremony, for example. The issue was -- until now -- I haven't been able to share at all.
I have been in a wasteland for Internet and cell phones, not just for me, but everyone it seems. The first three days of RAGBRAI have been the longest I've been disconnected in years. At first it was stressful, you know, because I am working, but after accepting that I can't do anything about it, it's been a giant release. I've started trying things I haven't in a while, like having conversations without a cell phone in my hand and not compulsively checking email and Facebook. In short it's allowed me to enjoy RAGBRAI for what it's for.
So to the two people who've followed me cover RAGBRAI the last five years -- hi, mom, hi Aunt Brenda -- sorry, but that's why I haven't been posting as much. Anyhow, looks like I should be more connected the rest of the way, and looking forward to telling you what's happening out here on the road. Right now, I am typing from an air conditioned lounge with wi-fi in Jewell. I am riding with Team Cockroach out of Ames this year. If you see me say hi or send me a Tweet at @bmorelli14.