The “longest” day – RAGBRAI Day 5

Today was the longest day of RAGBRAI according to the route maps, but for us it was only second longest. Because of our campsite locations, day 2 was longer.

The day started out really well – We were riding fast and enjoying the company of many different cyclists as they passed us by (or we passed them). We are starting to recognize the faces of people who are moving at about the same speed as us – so we pass them and an hour later they pass us and the process repeats itself throughout the day. The calls of “Oh Canada” continue to amuse us – especially when the folks get the tune wrong and sing it to the tune of “Oh Christmas Tree”.

Happy Becky early in the day – note the American flags lining the streets in town.

A pink tractor (painted in honour of one of the breast cancer charities) in one of the pass-through towns.  Tractors anchor each end of a long steel cable, and people hang their bike handlebars over the cable.  The world’s largest bike rack!

All was going well until about noon, when Becky started to overheat. The heat compounded by not enough sleep meant she was feeling rather yucky and in need of cooling down. We stopped in a farmer’s yard to enjoy some shade, home-made lemonade, and visit with some kids. After a brief break, she felt better, but once we got back on the bikes and started moving again, the yuckiness came back. As we pulled into Stout, Becky decided to take the SAG. With any luck, she would get into town early enough to get the tent setup and make dinner plans, while Scott continued with the ride.

Crowds of people and bikes in a pass-through town – this actually isn’t that busy.

Becky’s SAG journey started off well, as she was able to enjoy the air conditioning in the SAG van. The SAG continues along the route until it fills up. Once it is full, the driver re-routes to the highway and heads straight to the end town. Unfortunately, the SAG was moving slowly at that time. The driver had to stop and enquire about a VW Van that was for sale, and then he had to stop again for lunch. Since it was later in the day, there were not too many people getting on the SAG, such that we never did fill up. After a couple of hours the air conditioning became too much, and Becky was feeling chilled.  Becky noticed Scott’s bike as we passed through Hudson (more than 2.5 hours after she got on the SAG). It took more than 3 hours to get into Waterloo, and Becky got to the campsite only 10 minutes before Scott!

Meanwhile, Scott was having a lovely time riding the remaining 50 km.  Shortly after Stout, the route turned east, and the wind turned into a tailwind, and he got to visit with some other recumbent riders.  One had the clever idea to attach a retractable badge clip to the top of her seat, and use that to hold her Camelback hose.  Pull forward to drink, release and it retracts out of the way.  We’ll have to try that.

Team “spam” all had cans of spam on their helmets.

The National Guard uses RAGBRAI as a recruiting event – they have have fancy displays in the pass-through towns and provide cold water and Gatorade.

In Hudson, they had a great pirate theme happening, with rides, costumed locals and a pirate ship.  With a large beer garden and live music, many people were having a great time and staying a while.  Scott figured he couldn’t stay too long, since Becky would have arrived and be wondering where he was.  Untrue as it turned out, but probably a good thing.  We didn’t do any training which involved riding 140 km and stopping for beer in the middle, so he wouldn’t have been prepared.  Instead he found the other music venue, with a great jazz band in a shady park.  Very relaxing, but after a short break he pressed on.

The evenings campsite was on a college campus (designated the quiet campground, but we were able to hear the music from the mainstage  quite well given that it was 3 miles away!). We decided to head to the cafeteria for dinner. Just as we arrived, they ran out of lasagna, but luckily they replaced it with spaghetti. This made Becky very happy, since Spaghetti is a much better dinner for her (less cheese). The cafeteria was also scheduled to open early for the morning breakfast rush (at 5 am). Our charter is doing very well at finding good camping locations.

A bicycle built for six! (they have two kids in the trailer). Note the crutches in the back. The mother had stitches in her heel so she couldn’t walk, but she could still ride. It was neat watching the “train” get started!

Scott in a recumbent paceline!

The biking Elvis’

Becky’s bike loaded up on the SAG trailer.

Tent-city at the college in Waterloo.

A creative way to hang laundry.

Our campground in Waterloo.


  • Charles City to Waterloo (PDF route map).
  • Reported as 82.2 miles (132 km).
  • Scott rode 136 km to campsite, Becky rode 86 km.
  • Total Scott: 603 km, Total Becky: 553 km.
  • Costs: $34 food, $5 batteries (because Scott forgot the charger for the rechargeables in Galena)

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