I’ve been missing on the past two years of Ragbrai. It got to the point where the only other Asian guy on the ride started going around claiming to be me (the statistical rider is a white male 40-45 from Iowa). I had been worried that I would have a rough time adjusting to the stresses of Ragbrai, as they can be tough, but fortunately this year was everything I remembered it being and I left the ride waiting for next year.
By “Classic”, I mean it in the way that there is “Classic” Coke and then there the other varieties of Coke, which sometimes make it big or fail miserably. The Ragbrai this year was everything you wanted and expected it to be, just like a regular can of Coke: just plain good. No crazy aftertaste or startling mix of unexpected flavors.
Our team is named Trousermouse, which was the end result of collaborative decision of a bunch of 14 year old boys on their first Ragbrai 17 years ago. Some people are not always so quick as to what “Trousermouse” means, and we sometimes get asked that question. It’s really one of those “If you gotta ask…” type scenarios. We wear what I think is an awful misuse of custom made jerseys as our outfit is simply cyan blue with white hibiscus flowers spattered across it. Eye catching, but it confuses everybody into thinking we are from Hawaii.
We ride Ragbrai as if we were professionals of Ragbrai. We are on the average 15 riders big (other teams are 100+), but we have seemly gained a lot of notoriety for ourselves , which is impressive for how small we are: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragbrai#RAGBRAI_teams_and_charters
The team knows all of the quirks and foibles of the ride. Even though the route, like the Tour de France, changes every year, there are a lot of things that don’t change. It’s gotten to the point where Trousemouse has a list of “Ism’s”, or things to expect on Ragbrai: Expect at least one big storm to scare the crap out of you. The van will become a scattered mess on the inside and anything carefully packed will disappear after day 2 (also known as “Ragbrai’d”). Another one is we will have picked up a drafter and they will go down with no fault of our own (we also don’t stop for these instances).
With Ironman training just beginning for me, my spin on things were a little different this ride. If Ragbrai could be described as an “All-U-Can Eat Buffet of Meat”, I was the guy ordering the salad. I sort of stuck out from the rest of the group in that same way. I knew I had 8 week smorgasbord of workouts ahead of me to gorge on and I better not waste room eating the bread sticks. For the first time in my history of doing Ragbrai, I actually left the ride feeling better than I had gone into it. (I did Rhode Island the weekend prior, was still trashed going in, but then miraculously recovered by riding 500 miles).
I have to give a big thanks to the team. The way the ride works for Trousermouse, is that someone has to drive the van out every morning with our equipment to the next town and set up camp. This usually involves one of the riders having to sacrifice their day of riding to do this required task of sagging the van. Some days there are plenty of volunteers to drive (eg. “How do you turn a hot headwind into a cool breeze”? “You sag!” or “What’s the best way to sleep off a hangover on Ragbrai?” “You sag!”). Other times it can be a mean game of shotgun or short straw if it’s a nice day and everyone feels good. To actually ride an entire Ragbrai without taking a turn sagging is very rare. This year, out of the 17 of us on this trip, only two of us covered the entire route. I was one of them, and this was my first completion in 10 years. It felt good to come back from being 2 years MIA and being given the opportunity to ride the entire course.
A "If you gotta ask" Q/A:
What is "Poo Dollar?"
Poo Dollar is a disgusting game developed and patented this year by the "team" where someone wipes their butt with a dollar bill as if it were a sheet of toilet paper. This “tainted” dollar is then placed in an obvious location, like the middle of the street or on the sidewalk. It’s really a spectator game, where everyone watches to see which unsuspecting “tourist” is going to stop and pick it up (children are barred from playing the game). It’s really an obvious game (the crowd watching usually grows to 30-50 people), because as soon as someone starts to pick up the dollar, the crowd can’t help but get rowdy with “Oh’s” and “Yay’s”. Most people quickly access that there’s a gig going on with that dollar and don’t touch it. Very few people are left clueless with the crowd gathered, but most of the time the game ends by a person who just really wants that dollar.