Friday, July 30, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

July 30 - Mile 446.7

Team Simpson left Waterloo behind this morning, but not the water. On what turned out to be one of the most difficult rides of the week, we were treated to riding through four hours of rain and scattered thunderstorms. With typical Iowa hospitality, there were numerous opportunities along the way to seek shelter - in garages, farm sheds, and vendor tents - but in the end we were forced to complete the 70 miles to Manchester in the rain. As might be expected, more riders chose to use the sag wagons, probably out of a desire not to ride on a most miserable day. One consequence of riding in the rain seems to be a higher incidence of flat tires and we saw many of them on the route today. As another consequence, I caught a piece of road grit in one of my eyes and eventually southt teatment at the University of Iowa emergency trailer. It turned out to be very minor but with all of the water being thrown up from bikes up front, it could be expected that some of it would find its way into your eyes. Fortunately the skies cleared once we arrived in Manchester and we have been treated to an absolutely delightful evening. This is our last night on RAGBRAI and we are very fortunate to be hosted by the Manchester United Methodist Church. Pastor Roger Henry has provided indoor accommodations so we will not have to pitch our tents on this last overnight. Everyone is looking forward to tomorrow's 47.5 mile ride into Dubuque and to taking on what is now the famous Potter Hill with a mile-long climb at a 6% grade. I heard that some are estimating that as many as half of the riders will need to walk their bikes up that long and very steep hill.

John Byrd

We Have Reached Our Waterloo

July 29 - Waterloo - Mile 387

Several members of Team Simpson seemed to be a bit tired today as we made the 90 mile trip from Charles City to Waterloo. Along the way I had the opportunity to meet the parents of Cory Dawson, class of 2010, who reported that Cory is happily working as an underwriter at Wells Fargo. I also ran into Trevor Sharp '08 who has just started new responsibilities at Target Distribution Center in Cedar Falls. Today we started with breakfast at Hy-Vee in Charles City and had lunch at Tender Tom's along the way. They have a great turkey tenderloin sandwich. Unfortunately we were very close to a bad accident which appeared to involve multiple cyclists and the route was closed for a period of time as they called a Life Flight helicopter which took off with at least one of the injured riders. I know that everyone on Team Simpson hopes that the injured riders make a quick recovery. We are camped at the home of Paul Pechacek '85 (pictured with his daughters). We were warmly welcomed by Paul and his daughters, Shelley Pechacek (in the white shirt) and Kim Higgins. Kim attended Simpson in the late 80s before moving on to complete a nursing degree. We are treated to a huge back yard and as usual our hosts have gone out of their way to make us feel very, very welcome. With only two more riding days in front of us I think we are all feeling a bit sad that this year's adventure on RAGBRAI is almost over, but we certainly look forward to two more days and to our overnight in Manchester tomorrow evening.

John Byrd

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pictures from Michelle

Click here to view these pictures larger


I am a big believer in biking karma. What goes around, comes around. This belief was confirmed while riding in this year's RAGBRAI. As anyone who has ridden RAGBRAI knows, there are always riders that are going against the traffic - RIDER UP! is the accompanying cry. I always wondered why these people did it.

I finally was voicing my frustration at having to move over to the side for another RIDER UP! and wondering aloud to another rider why these people have to keep going backwards. Do they just like being the center of attention? Do they really need to add to the ride mileage totals? What smug satisfaction could they possibly get out of this?

A few miles later, I had a spoke break on my back tire. I had never had this happen before and did not realize how drastically it effected your tire. I was five miles from the previous town and 15 miles from the next town. I got the bike moving again with the help of a teammate and, yep, you guessed it, took off against the traffic to the mechanics in Varina. Five miles on a wobbly tire against the traffic was a bit disconcerting to say the least. RIDER UP!!

So I learned a lesson. There are lots of reason to have to go against the traffic. Not everyone is seeking attention. After this experience, I looked at the riders thinking maybe they had mechanical problems or needed to go back to help a spouse/friend/teammate. I was more humble and more understanding. In my book, a valuable karmic lesson.

A lesson that many of the riders who had less friendly things to say than RIDER UP! will hopefully learn some day. And for the guy who ran me and my wobbly tire off the road on to the gravel because he refused to slow down or look up, I shudder at the lesson he might learn . . . or more likely he does not believe in karma.

Thank you so much to all of the folks who made Team Simpson so much fun to ride with. My brothers and I had a great ride and an even greater time being with such a wonderful team. I look forward to wearing my Team Simpson colors again next year!

Bob Krapfl

From Charles City

July 28

Team Simpson Co-Captain Kelley Bradder visits with one of our Charles City hosts, Roger Ramthum.

Charge 'Em Up!

July 28
Team Simpson Co-Captain Chris Goodale mans a table of electronic devices. Outlets are at a premium at every overnight stop as team members are looking for places to charge their cell phones and Blackberries for the next day!

Enjoying Chuck Town

July 28 - Mile 297.5

Team Simpson enjoyed a 57-mile ride to Charles City today. We saw a number of interesting sights along the way, including an elephant ride and a trapeze set up above a pool. We learned later that State Troopers shut down the trapeze in the pool due to some unsavory activity! Once again we were warmly welcomed by our hosts. Roger and Sue Ramthun and their son, Matt '02, were on hand to extend warm hospitality to everyone in our group. We enjoyed the park-like setting of their back yard and all of the special touches they added to make our stay most welcoming and comfortable. Pictured here is our host Roger Ramthun with Charlie Fiedler, Scott McQueen, and Jeff McQueen.
John Byrd

Lunch on the Road

July 28 - Mile 275

Fred Hubbell, Chair of the Simpson College Board of Trustees, and his brother Mike enjoy food from one of the terrific vendors that are on the route every day. Pastafari serves great pasta in a number of varieties. This particular morning we ate a couple of slices of French toast and sausage for breakfast, followed 45 minutes later by lunch of penne pasta with marinara sauce.
John Byrd

More Fun in Clear Lake

July 27

Team Simpson riders Bryan '87 and Amy '87 Gregston of Arvada, Colorado enjoyed circulating at the ice cream social at the home of Tony and Angie '89 Sly in Clear Lake.

Alumni Reception

July 27
Team Simpson was joined by a number of alums at the home of Tony and Angie '89 Sly in Clear Lake, pictured here. Everyone enjoyed the ice cream social and the beautiful lakeside scenery at our hosts' cabin. Some of the riders took a dip in Clear Lake before dinner. Several of us had the unexpected pleasure of sleeping in air-conditioned comfort inside the Sly home. It was even more appreciated when a strong band of thunderstorms rumbled through around 2 a.m. Those who slept outside dealt with wet tents and wet gear in the morning. Many thanks to Tony and Angie and their daughters for a wonderful evening in Clear Lake.
John Byrd

I Missed It!

July 27

I learned after leaving Britt today that Jon and Judy Swenson, their daughter Molly who is a junior at Simpson, and their son Tyler who will graduate from Simpson in August, had prepared a wonderful sign welcoming Team Simpson to town. Thanks to the Swensons for the warm welcome. Sorry I missed you and the sign!

John Byrd

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Flying the team colors

Team Simpson pulled on red and gold jerseys for Tuesday's 60-mile ride from Algona to Clear Lake. State troopers saluted the college as team members rolled through intersections. Students and alumni greeted team riders in pass-through towns. (One enthusiastic lady noticed the maple leaves on the sleeves and welcomed all the Canadians to town.) And Des Moines Register photographer Andrea Melendez captured team members Fred Hubbell, John Byrd and Dave Enzler on the ride. The original shot is here.
-- Mike Krapfl

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Alum in Britt

July 27 - Britt, Iowa

I ran into Jeff Nielsen, pictured here, on my stop in Britt this morning. Jeff graduated from Britt High School and later from Simpson College in 1984. Jeff told me that he holds the high school record for the 100 meter dash in Class 2A (10.84). Jeff didn't tell me, but I have learned that he also holds the state record of 21.78 for the 200 meter dash in Class 2A - and both of those records still stand! I also learned that among his other accomplishments, Jeff set Simpson school records in the 100 meter dash and in the 4 x 400 meter relay. It is such fun to encounter Simpson alums along the route. Hopefully I will meet a lot more before this day is over. We are all wearing our Simpson jerseys, the visibility of which helps us to make these fun connections. Looking forward to the alumni gathering late this afternoon in Clear Lake.

John Byrd

Fueled by Iowa Hospitality

July 27 - Mile 176.5

We often think of homemade pies, Iowa chops, bratwurst, and all manner of other great food as the fuel that keeps riders going across Iowa. It is actually the Iowa hospitality, though, that makes all of this work. I met a man yesterday in Pocahontas and when I asked him how many years he had participated in RAGBRAI, he told me, "Sixteen." When I asked him what kept him coming back year after year, he told me it was Iowa hospitality. We certainly experienced some of that hospitality last night as we camped at the home of Dan and Darla Vonnahme (pictured here). The Vonnahmes set up extra showers for us in their back yard to accommodate our large group and warmly welcomed us into their home. True hospitality is best expressed when freely and sincerely given, as is particularly the case with the Vonnahmes. They are not directly connected to Simpson. Co-captain Chris Goodale describes them as "friends of Simpson who are connected by a dotted line." Dan and Darla's connection to the college is that their grown daughter is a friend of a Simpson alumna. Yet they opened their home to 50+ people traipsing in and out for showers and a change of clothes and made all of them feel right at home. This is a story that is replicated over and over again in every one of the overnight towns. So to all of the overnight hosts who gladly give up their homes, we say thank you for helping to make RAGBRAI the special event that keeps more than 10,000 riders from all over the country and all over the world coming back year after year.
John Byrd

Monday, July 26, 2010

In the Clover in Plover

July 26 - 12:30 p.m.

Just arrived in Plover for the second time today as part of the 100-mile loop and came through this very nice park. On the first time through I had a chance to meet up with Werner Kolln, Professor of Chemistry and Physics at Simpson. Werner joined the ride today and will be with us again tomorrow. It is great to have him on Team Simpson.

John Byrd

Flat Tire

July 26 - Mile 115.46
Inevitably riders run into problems on the ride across Iowa. Dave Enzler stops to fix a flat tire outside of Pocahontas, Iowa. These roadside repairs are common and he was on his way in just a few minutes.

Century Ride Ahead

July 26 - Mile 75.5

Team Simpson is ready to take off for the ride from Storm Lake to Algona. For those looking for a little something extra, today is the day for the Karras Loop, which provides the opportunity to ride 100+ miles in one day. Some of the Simpson riders are planning to make the effort to go the extra miles. Special thanks go to Stan and Stephanie Quick, both from the Simpson Class of 1956 (pictured here with me) for being absolutely wonderful overnight hosts to Team Simpson. They have a beautiful home with a large yard overlooking Storm Lake. It was very close to all of the venues and provided an absolutely perfect setting for our overnight in Storm Lake.
John Byrd

Early Showers

July 25 - 2 a.m.

Team Simpson showered early when the sprinkler system on the athletic field at Morningside came on at 2:00 this morning. Those fortunate enough to have rain flies on their tents had protection from the "heavy rain." For those less fortunate, their gear got a little damp, to say the least. But this is RAGBRAI, so everyone takes these little setbacks in stride. We all got up the next morning, got our gear in shape, and were happily on our way on the first leg of this year's ride.
John Byrd

Ready to Start

July 24 - Mile 0.0

Team Simpson arrived on the campus of Morningside College about 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 24. We were met by Gene Ambroson, Alumni Director at Morningside (pictured at left with Kelley Bradder and Bob Lane of Simpson).
Gene provided directions to our camping site, furnished everyone with a map of the area showing locations of all of the shopping and RAGBRAI activities, and even provided the team with three bags of popcorn. Special thanks go out to President John Reynders along with everyone at Morningside who has been so accommodating to this large crowd of RAGBRAI riders.
In short order we were able to get our tents up and most of us made it into the downtown area for the food boths and entertainment. We look forward to getting started tomorrow on what we hope will be a great ride across Iowa.
John Byrd

Friday, July 23, 2010

What does it take to get us to Sioux City?

A charter bus, a van and 2 moving trucks to be exact. Just a little over 24 hours to go and we are just about ready on this end. Looking forward to my first RAGBRAI, seeing old friends and meeting new. Kudos to Bob, Kelley & Chris on the countless hours of organizing this small army! Gatorade, water, first aid kit, directions, maps, countless lists, koozies, tents and chairs. Oh yeah- and the bikes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Limits on baggage

A few Team Simpson riders have asked if there are any limit on the number of items or bags they can bring. Team Simpson does not have a limit on the number of bags we will transport. We have ample space to accommodate everyone's gear. Exercise reasonability as you are packing, for your own convenience, as bags seem to get heavier after a full day of biking.

We prefer gear to be packed in soft sided duffels or bags, as we use our bags to secure and stabilize our bikes during transportation.

Happy packing, and we will see you on Saturday!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Welcome to Team Simpson's Blog

Each of you is invited to join President Byrd in blogging about your experience on RAGBRAI by using our Team Simpson blog. We will also be tweeting, so you can follow along @SimpsonRagbrai

While there are just a few days left before the start of RAGBRAI, here are a few last minute considerations...

Daily Routine and Logistics:

Each rider is responsible for packing their tent, bags, chair and gear and delivering them to the gear truck by 9 a.m. every morning. Our gear truck and van will depart for the next overnight town by 9:30 a.m. each morning. Riders who are joining the team along the route need to have their gear loaded by 9 a.m., as well. This will give our drivers time to stock up on supplies, allow drive time to the next overnight town and accommodate riders who leave early. We do not expect the team to ride together as one group due to various skill levels and interests.

Depending on the route for the day, riders may start arriving as early as noon and may continue to arrive throughout the afternoon and early evening.

Those who choose to leave early, consider tenting close to the truck and be conscientious of those who choose to leave later in the morning and may be sleeping. If you leave early, please leave your gear near the truck to be loaded.

There will be snacks and beverages available for you in the morning and when you arrive at our overnight hosts. Each overnight hosts have different accommodations for us. After arriving at our overnight host, check in with our drivers, and they will be able to direct you to the shower and bathroom facilities, and where the appropriate areas are to pitch your tent.

Make sure to pack a camp chair. Team Simpson riders gather and share adventures of the day and Simpson experiences from the past.

We will be traveling with a passenger van that we will use as a shuttle to town when needed. If our overnight hosts are more than walking distance from the official RAGBRAI activities, we will shuttle riders back and forth as needed. We expect bikers to bike in inclement weather and not use the van as a sag vehicle, so be sure to bring rain gear.

If you are from central Iowa, many of your training rides may have been spent dodging rain drops. It may be hard to avoid the rain on RAGBRAI, so be sure to pack a small zip lock bag to protect your electronics (cell phone, camera) on and off the bike.

Lastly, be sure to check over your bike before you leave. How many miles are on your tires? Tires should be replaced on a regular schedule. When is the last time your chain was oiled?

We are excited to begin our adventure together, and add memories to our Simpson experiences.