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  • Mon July 07 2008
  • Posted Jul 7, 2008
BY TERESA KAY ALBERTSON CONTRIBUTING WRITER I had never been in a livestock truck before RAGBRAI IX in 1981. But on that soggy Monday, I was thrilled to drag my bike into the rinsed but still fragrant cattle truck that took me from Schleswig to Lake City. The Ames Convention and Visitor's Bureau is looking for Ames residents to host RABGRAI riders in their homes the night of Tuesday, July 22 when the tour goes through town. The request reminded me of my night in Lake City in 1981. Let me create the setting by quoting from the RABGRAI Web site at www.ragbrai.org: "RAGBRAI IX had the distinction of having the worst weather of any year in the ride's history. The beginning campground at Missouri Valley was damp from continuous rains, and it poured off and on as the riders went up over the Loess Hills to Mapleton on Sunday. The next day between Mapleton and Lake City the temperature dropped to the upper 40s (remember, this was July!) and riders rode the hills into a strong headwind and pouring rain. Very few made it beyond Schleswig, which was the first town of the day." That Monday, between Mapleton and Lake City became known as "Soggy Monday." I lost sight of my riding companion, Joan, soon out of Mapleton. With cold rain blowing in your eyes, it's easy to lose other riders. After sitting in the Schleswig city park for several hours, looking for Joan and trying to get up my nerve to finish the ride to Lake City, some locals told me a truck was waiting to offer me a ride if I wanted it. They didn't have to offer twice. Again, allow me to quote from the RAGBRAI site: "The campgrounds in Lake City were under water so residents came to the rescue and put the riders up in homes and garages, and even on the newly refinished gym floor at the high school." I was so exhausted and discouraged from day two of my first RAGBRAI, I don't quite remember the details of the evening in Lake City. I remember a large grassy field with a lake in the middle. "That's our campground" some one said, pointing at the lake. Well, it is called Lake City, I remember thinking. But this is taking it a little too far. My next memory is of a one-story gray house. The family there offered me a hot shower. I was in heaven. Although I thought I had slept in that home, I also seem to recall the school gymnasium mentioned above, with the shiny new floor. So maybe I laid my sleeping bag on that brand spanking new polyurethane coating and slept like a baby. I found Joan that night shortly after she got into Lake City. She was wet, shivering and covered with mud. How could she have possibly kept going, I wondered. "I kept telling myself I was here to ride my bike," I remember her telling me in a whisper. "So that's what I did. I just kept riding my bike." That Soggy Monday became so memorable, the RABGRAI committee came out with a commemorative patch to honor the day. I didn't buy one for myself. I didn't think I deserved it. But I hope Joan has one placed in an honorable location in her home. My husband, who also has a fair number of RAGBRAIs under his belt, suggested that we offer our backyard and shower to a few riders this year when they stop over in Ames. More than 1,000 riders have requested home stays while in Ames that night. You can offer a home to a homeless biker at www.amesragbrai.com. Man, I didn't even know that a rider could request a home stay. Hmmmm, maybe I should think about riding another RABGRAI some day soon.

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