Team PA Pestilence is born!
Gary Mitzel, Linda Mitzel, Chris Benedict and David Decoteau are the Charter members. This is the realization of a 4 year dream. After David "Weez" Vannicola got me to my first RAGBRAI in 2011, I always wanted to return with a Team. This year, it happened! 2016, Bigger and better yet!
RAGBRAI is an epic event that encompasses so many things that it's really hard to describe. I'll try to break the entire trip into a multiple photo albums with captions for each photo. This seems like the easiest, fastest, most fun way for you to find what you are looking for and to begin to tell the story of our 2015 adventure. ENJOY!
Getting Started - Travel Road Trip!
The first couple days are travel days. All the photos in this first album happened BEFORE our cycling adventure across Iowa began.
Our travels began at 5:00 a.m. at the Riverside Adventure Company building in Riverside, PA on Friday July 17th. The first 14 hours are spent getting yourself, your bike an your 50 lbs. of gear to Iowa. This is a great "get to know you" time for team members. We talked about all the subjects you aren't supposed to talk about, and barely had any fist fights. I knew that if our team can survive that kind of early pressure: we have what it takes to go ALL THE WAY!
First City is Davenport Iowa. We get camp set up. It's about 95° and about 95% humidity that day. This oppression causes us to move slowly, and sweat a lot. We don't do "crafts" or "scrapbooking" like was once envisioned, and Chris decides to leave his sleeping bag in the van for the week "because there is no way he will need it". This proves to be an error in coming days...but we'll get to that.
After camp is set, we head into Davenport for some preliminary partying. We aren't disappointed, as RAGRBAI folks are everywhere! First stop: Front Street Brew Pub, where we quickly meet and befriend "Team Red Merkin". A good team name, and if you don't understand it, a quick trip to Dictionary.com is approprate. Hijinks ensures (see the "virgin" photos). After some preliminaries - off to get a great meal at their restaurant.
The next morning, and after the initial camp over night in Davenport, we park our van in long term parking, go to the University on the hill where we are to find our 8:30 a.m. charter bus shuttle to the western side of Iowa and the Sioux City starting location. So most of the day of Saturday, July 18th is spent moving gear, ourselves and just getting across the state, using Pork Belly Ventures bus.
Once in Sioux City, we have a short drag of our luggage to our camping spot, we get set up and see some sights and go to our first (of many) church affiliated dinners. This first one is wonderful, and we get our first Iowa church lady pie, but it's in short supply, so we have to hurry.
After dinner, off by bicycle to the Expo Center for all things bike. It's a great Expo, with adult sized Big Wheels, and all manner of clothes and gear, and repairs. A cyclists dream location for spending some time looking and shopping.
After the Expo, we head to the concert venue, where we see first a local band, and then Huey Lewis and the News. Huey still has it! Maybe he lost a half step, but I'll conceed no more. A good time is had by all and we earn our first of many bracelets for the beer garden.
The concert is over around midnight and it's off to bed not long after finding places to charge our phones and maybe use a bathroom. The next day starts the ride!
Hitting the Road
You spend a lot of time on the road at RAGBRAI. And the one thing you quickly learn on the RAGBRAI road is: look for water towers. Everytime you see a water tower, you know something cool is about to happen. Water towers usually go together with the towns that are large enough to handle the massive invasion of riders.
Here are some of our photos from those cool Iowa towns that welcomed us with open arms and open hearts, and provided us with laughs, food, drinks, art, and most importantly... PIE!
After riding all day, Team PA Pestilence would usually take showers (many cold) and then head out on the town! RAGRBRAI offers a wide array of night time entertainment each evening. The theme of this year's ride was "Party like it's 1983" and that was OK with this group of 50± year olds!
Here are some of the sights and sounds of the entertainment we saw along the RAGBRAI road:
Some things you see at RAGBRAI don't easily fit into categories. Here is a selection of noteworthy items we encountered along the way. There were many, many more, but you get the idea that you're going to see some weird stuff:
Team PA Pestilence MAKES IT'S MARK!
The team made friends, influenced people and graffittied (legally) our way across Iowa. Check it out!
it's hot in Iowa in summer. Sometimes oppressively hot. As a result, riders are always looking for ways to beat the heat. From the shade of a tree, to a slip and slide to a frosty drink. The following video shows some of the ways TEAM PESTILENCE found to beat the heat.
Accommodations - from swank to sweltering.
Day one in Iowa was sweltering. Like 98° sweltering, with near 100% humidity. As a result, anything that looked "warm" - was ditched and left in the van. Little did we know, that less than 48 hours later, temperatures would be in the 50°'s area. Chris had NO BEDDING! This meant sleeping with bunches of laundry, and towels and whatever else he could throw on himself. The team felt bad, but Chris survived. All part of the ADVENTURE, I suppose.
The team spent the large majority of out time with the "rabble" of RAGBRAI. That means we spent a lot of time in big campgrounds with the masses (up to 18,000 per day) of riders. We do this on purpose, because the sheer size of it all, and the humanity, is a big part of the experience. WE camped, and stayed in a college dorm and at the end, we even stayed in a very nice hotel (funny, none of us took any photos of the nice place). See if you don't agree that our accommodations ran the gamut:
Food, Drink and Fun!
Team PA Pestilence riders should train as much for their time off the bike, as they train for their time on the bike. This video will show you why: