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  • Sun July 29 2007
  • Posted Jul 29, 2007
RICHARD DOAK AND ANDIE DOMINICK July 29, 2007 Now we go back to our normal lives. A week on RAGBRAI isn't like any other week of the year. You get up in the morning. You ride. You sweat and talk to new people and eat and find a shower. Then you fall asleep. And you wake up in the morning and do it all over again. This bike ride across Iowa is about slowing down, soaking up the Iowa hospitality, taking afternoon naps under trees and standing in long lines for corn dogs. If you can't slow down your inner clock, you can't enjoy the ride. And this was a RAGBRAI to enjoy. There was little rain, near-perfect weather and few hills until the last day when we got near the Mississippi. There were towns like Eagle Grove, where the entire town must have turned out to host riders. We rode on our tandem recumbent in about the middle of the pack. We left early each morning to get miles done before the scorching sun beat down. We got a flat tire, didn't have any arguments and got passed by only one trike. Some riders pedaled hard, getting to the overnight towns before noon. (We didn't interview any of those people because they were going too fast.) Others found it exhausting. "Sunday wore me down. And I'm a year older," said Jack Knox of Austin, Texas. Then he paused. "But I'll grind it out." Some had so much fun that they could hardly contain themselves. Glen Hanket sought us out to sing his song about RAGBRAI. He's performed it on stage in Aplington and sang it on the road. It's to the tune of "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad," but it's about kybos, breakfast burritos, Mr. Pork Chop and cornfields. Many riders come year after year. It's in their blood. Mark Halverson of Lincoln, Neb., wore a shirt announcing he'd been on the 1974 ride. He was 17 then. Now he's 50. His best discovery in his 20-some RAGBRAIs? A seatpost with shocks. RAGBRAI is something different for each rider. But all of us leave having experienced the kindness of strangers - the rider who stopped for the man with a flat tire; the Amish harness-maker who fixed a rider's leather pedal strap; those who stopped at a child's lemonade stand; the Iowans who spent months preparing for all the visitors and then worried whether the town was doing a good enough job of hosting them. Everyone leaves with a new appreciation for the human race. And for Iowa. And for home - a place almost all of us were missing by the end.

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