• 01
  • Aug

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen… we’ve made it. Another year of RAGBRAI under our belts and we’re all still friends (or we will be again after about a week or two… hahah).

What’s R.A.G.B.R.A.I. you ask? Well, let me explain… it’s the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa and it 0WNZ to the max. Our team is Team Spoke Easy. It’s a little play on the Chicago Speak Easy idea. Our gear and paraphernalia all has Capone with a cigar and a biking helmet:


So anyway… it’s all about riding a bicycle for about 60-75 miles a day (30-40 every 1/2 day), starting at about 7 a.m., through the Iowa cornfields. Then, at night, you set up camp next to the bus and party your brains out. Then it all starts over again the next morning around 7 or 8. Here’s our bus:

SpokeEasy Bus

I also made a shit-ton of friends on this time around and saw people that I hadn’t seen forever. Let’s name-throw + give thanks (and probably forget/botch about 99.935% of them):

  • SpokeEasy (our team): Ian, Dave, Travis, Ben, Julie, Angie, Shelly, Roly, Marty, Paddy and Brent, our driver that just moved to Chicago from New Orleans.
  • Tallywhackers: Dave & Kim (thanks for letting us stay on Friday in Lisbon, too!), Andy, Alicia, Dana, Don, Chris, Kristina, Megan (and her 2 friends), Jodie, Kristin, Lauren, Finch and the 2 self-contained guys (heavy bikes). Can’t forget Roadkill Rhonda.
  • Cory & Cory (Team Bud & Subtle Savages): drank with these guys on a golf course in Independence until the wee hours after I got snubbed.
  • Spin: Truc, Pat, Jim & Chad + Company… tough crowd there… heavy-duty drinking + riding.
  • Fat Tire Army: Jace + Company… partied on their bus during the rain storm in Independence. Good to see those guys again this year!
  • John & Sarah in Spencer for letting us park our buses and use their house/showers for the evening and giving us a ride to the downtown festivities. GREAT people and great house… many thanks!
  • Duck’s Bar in Aredale: Don & Nicki hooking us up all night and all morning. Thanks for being our host bar for the night/morning! Also, the people who let us park our bus out by the horse pen.
  • Mike & Carol Schaffner + Meredith for letting us crash at their house in Sumner on the off-route from CF night and the massive amount of BBQ we ate. Amazing food! Also, TA’s Bar + White Elephant Bar in Sumner.
  • Subtle Savages for hooking up the golf course spot + showers in Independence and the people who let us stay there.
  • Jamie Kramer’s parents (Dyersville) for letting us stay at their house + Bret from Cascade for giving us all a ride into town from about 2 miles out in his huge truck.
  • James Tillapaugh for storing our bus on the north side of Chicago when we desperately needed it.
  • Randoms: Aaron (Humboldt – let us park in front of his parents house, many thanks!), Fast/Crazy Eddie + mail-order bride (Humboldt), Teresa (Tip-Top), Diane McAnally (Dave’s Mom), Karin + Crew for letting us hit up their after-hours in Dixon, IL on Saturday. Can’t forget the random bands playing in lunch towns (Cobra, Jokers Wild, etc).
  • Teams: Pucker, Daydrinkers, Bricky (Jody), Bloody Chode (Nick Kramer).

Now, you may be asking yourself… on average, Drew, this ride came to about 455 miles… did you REALLY ride that WHOLE distance? My answer would be a resounding NEIN, NADA, HELLZNO. C’mon now… do you really think a guy with this much girth could ride that far? I was lucky to ride out on Sunday morning and do the very first leg of 27 miles. By the time I hit the bus, I was a pool of skin & wasted muscle tissue. I wish I had a speedometer on my bike, so I could laugh at the average of 5-7 mph I was doing on the inclines. Goal for next year: save money for a road bike and get my ass trained!

In retrospect, I’m going to throw out some ideas for next year:

  1. Get a road bike. My mountain bike with road tires is nice, but I need a speedier demon.
  2. Get my ass in shape. Holy jeesubs my muscles were cramping and my legs were jelly when I was done with 27 miles. No go. We gotta get this frame into riding form of some kind. I say we put a minimum amount of riding on each team member (like at least 3 half-days) that they have to do if they’re riding the bus. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t do it this year, but I really want to ride more next year.
  3. Get a tent. The flies were effing ridiculous, once again. And keep the beer coolers outside at night so we don’t spill beer all over the floor inside.
  4. Be more self-contained and rely less upon other teams. Was it fun to trail the Tallywhackers for almost all 800+ miles of the route? Yes and no. We had a great time, but we could have done our own thing just as well, like we did the year before. Following the true support vehicle route isn’t so bad.
  5. Be more prepared. Make sure we have everything squared away, down to the details, weeks before we leave. No more team leaders freaking out at the last second because we don’t have a driver or we can’t figure out a way to get everyone to the bus or starting point in Iowa. We should plan this out and assign tasks to make sure it’s a team effort. We all have real-life jobs that can’t always be worked around, so get everyone involved in making sure we have things squared away before we leave.
  6. Get the bus setup for maximum usability. If it’s required that the bus driver utilizes one of the futons to sleep, game on, but everyone else needs tents, sleeping bags and a big rubbermaid tub with names to keep their things stored. No more giant suitcases and bags of clothes that people have left lying around. Everyone has to use the bus, so we should keep it in shape.
  7. We need a giant cooler. One of those long white ones that everyone can use. And water should be kept in it as well as beer (not saying beer shouldn’t be cold). When you ride in, beers aren’t the immediate first thing that most people look for.
  8. I believe a week-long up-front bus-riding and team-fund should be taken for gas, ice, supplies, cases of bottled water, driver expenses, etc. If each of us threw in $250 this year, we would have had $2,500 at least for those expenses and we wouldn’t have had to take a collection at every stop. If we could get this amount up-front before even leaving Chicago and sink it into an ATM card, extra bonus. Then we wouldn’t have to carry around cash all week. Assign someone to be the treasurer or whatever to be accountable for the money during the week. If we have money leftover at the end, we either booze it up in Chicago some night or divvy it back up amongst the original people who donated.
  9. Team SpokeEasy Drink n’ Clean needs better resources to cleanse the bus. Once the rubbermaid tubs are racked up in the morning, there shouldn’t be any reason why we couldn’t mop the floor or at least use a Swiffer to get the dried beer up. Washing the windshield would be good once in a while, too, so the bus driver can see. All of the above will cut down on flies and increase happiness.

I’m sure there’s plenty of other ideas we discussed along the way that could be done better, but I’d also like to say that we still had an absolute blast, even with the minor issues above. I’m sure there will be more to come over the following months to put a happier face on next year’s ride and make it even more fun.

In the meantime, stay focused, stay healthy and start getting ready, cuz we’re only 351 days away from next year’s ride (yeah, I pushed it up 2 days for our personal departure time). Hope to see you amongst the corn rows in July 2008!

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One Comment

  1. Jace Says:

    Yo! Good seeing you at RAGBRAI again this year. We have to stay in touch and plan out logistics together for next years ride. The FT crew enjoyed hanging out with your team. Peace! – Jace

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