Sunday, July 27, 2008

RAGBRAI Rant #2: It's That Wagon You're Draggin'

News Flash #1: Iowa is NOT hilly. Yes, yes, yes, I've been to the Loess Hills, I've been to Dubuque, I've seen and ridden the bluffs that dot several regions of our fair state. But when you look at places that have REAL hills (heck, even the baby hills of Western Pennsylvania, where I learned to love my granny gear nearly as much as my own Granny), the most defining geographic feature of our state is its pool-table flatness.

News Flash #2: When you are doing your "training rides" in Central Iowa, your inspirational soundtrack of Hootie & The Blowfish/Lynrd Skynrd/ESPN Arena Rock 7/Best(?!?) of Garth Brooks does NOT need to be broadcast to ALL of Central Iowa. If your iPod's anything like mine, it came with a set of headphones. Try 'em. It's a pretty safe bet they won't make you any more clueless or less aware of your surroundings than you already are.

News Flash #3: There's a better-than-average chance that the fact you weren't aware of News Flash #2 explains the fact that you also missed out on News Flash #1. In other words, maybe Iowa wouldn't FEEL so hilly if you weren't dragging an abandoned hayrack loaded down with a Marshall stack and enough car batteries to send a Prius to Mars.


Anonymous said...

You mean that folks ride with boom boxes on their training rides?? People have been bringing radios on RAGBRAI for decades, but I hadn't ever seen someone do this on a training ride.

Perhaps I don't see people do this for training rides because there seem to be very few RAGBRAI training rides. More precisely, I see a lot of riders on RAGBRAI who could use a lot more training.

God bless the folks who are enthusiastic about getting to see Iowa from a bike seat, but too many of them are a hazard to themselves and those around them. I witnessed a couple of ladies toodling slowly up a rolling hill. The concrete road surface was cracked and roughly patched. I'm not sure what they did, but I watched one of them collide with the other. Both went down, and neither got back up. They were wearing helmets, for what it's worth. Nearby riders stopped to check on them and divert traffic around them.

Personally, I'd like to see the Register implement some sort of screening method to be sure riders had adequate skills and fitness to undertake the ride. Maybe have riders maintain an on-line training record? If you can't be bothered to at least fraudulently fill it out, then you shouldn't ride.

Alternately, riders might submit a photo of their biker's tan lines (if one's pigmentation allows this). If your tan isn't embarassing, then you can't ride.

Neither of these ideas is great, but it's sure better than letting Natural Selection remove the unskilled and unfit riders from the road (usually via ambulance).

Steve Kurt
(saw four riders end up immobile on just Friday and Saturday)

Jason Nunemaker: said...

Oh, believe me, the music comes along for "training" rides. It's like a wheeled game of musical chairs... ride three abreast across the bike path until the music stops, then scramble to get to the nearest barstools. Whoever doesn't get a stool has to buy the first round.