We decided that we would carry our gear the last day, so we didn’t need to find our charter at the end of the day – we feared that if we didn’t arrive in Dubuque on-time our gear might end up on a bus to Omaha. Carrying our gear also meant that we could sleep in!
When we popped our heads out of the tent at 6:30 am, everyone around us was gone. The field of tents from last night was almost empty – only the last few slowpokes rushed about trying to get their gear loaded up before the trucks left.
For our lazy morning, we headed downtown to Burger King for breakfast before starting our ride. The Burger King was located in the lower part of downtown, which had been completely flooded when the levee broke earlier in the week. It was amazing how much of the cleanup they managed to do. We were sad to learn that the city had done a bunch of landscaping just for RAGBRAI, but it was all washed away in the floods.
When we finally got on the road, it was obvious that we were at the tail on the pack today. A lot of riders got up early and made a quick dash for the finish line. The passthrough towns were not nearly as busy and most of the “regular” vendors skipped the day.
The ride today was hillier than the previous day, but we enjoyed the change in terrain as well as the beautiful weather. We had been warned about Potter’s Hill – that is was a mile long and a 6 percent grade – which to us didn’t sound all that bad. We’d see when we got there.
Before Potter’s Hill was the necessary detour to see the Field of Dreams – from the movie. It was really neat to see the field. Many cyclists where waiting to have a swing of the bat and run around the bases. We did as many other cyclists were doing, and use the opportunity of corn fields for a pee break – unfortunately, the center field cornfields had a particular odour of too many cyclists and not enough rain!
The Field of Dreams.
Becky hiding in the corn fields at the edge of the Field of Dreams.
Rather than retrace our steps back to the main road, Scott suggested a detour – a slightly shorter route that involved a dirt road. We failed to realize the route also involved several rather steep hills! It was nice to get away from the crowds for a brief moment, even if the route was not exactly easier than the main road. Becky spared no opportunity to remind Scott that he had dragged her up and down these “extra” hills.
A “short” detour on the way out of the Field of Dreams – we eventually reconnected with the main route – after a few additional steep hills!
As we approached the infamous Potter’s Hill, it didn’t seem that bad. The first 1/2 mile was only about a 5% grade. However, as we approached a corner, the hill got really steep. A sign said 19% but we figure it was more like 17%. Scott put many people riding light racing bikes to shame when he rode up the entire hill fully loaded. The majority of cyclists walked up. Becky alternated pushing her bike and riding. At one point a nice gentleman came up beside Becky and helped her push for about 50 meters. The assistance was greatly appreciated.
The beginning of Potter’s Hill – doesn’t seem so bad yet!
People pushes their bikes up the hill.
Becky riding out in front of a group walking up Potter’s Hill!
We thought we were done with hills after Potter’s Hill, but coming in to Dubuque it seemed like a never ending procession of ups and downs. At one point a police officer stopped Becky just as she was screaming down a hill (ugg) to allow oncoming traffic to pass by. The unfortunate part was that she had to start the next steep hill with no momentum at all – not so much fun with a loaded bike.
We did finally make it to the dip site – it certainly felt like we were one of the last riders on the road. The site was rather sandy making it a challenge for us to get our bikes down and then back out again. Fortunately, there were many people around to lend a hand.
Yay, we made it!.
Dipping our tires in the Mississippi river in Dubuque. Can you see the exhaustion on our faces? We did it!
Becky getting some help with her bike from a passer-by. Getting the loaded bikes out of the sand and back onto the pathway was a challenge!
Yay! We did it!
A busy pass-through town.
Road kill – RAGBRAI cyclists commemorate any roadkill they find along the route – we never saw a dead animal without some form of memorial.
A typical picture of Eastern Iowa – note the hills!
- Manchester to Dubuque (PDF route map).
- Reported as 47.5 miles (76 km).
- We rode 88 km.
- Ride time: 6 h.
- Total Scott: 802 km, Total Becky: 752 km.
- Costs: $30 food (not including dinner back in Galena)