The steel chariot that will carry me through day one of RAGBRAI XLII is this 2013 Jamis Coda.
H.G. Wells once said, "Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."
I usually never trust a man who goes by initials, but Herbert speaks the truth.
I picked up cycling three years ago as a way to keep my belly in check between hunting seasons, but almost instantly it became much more than my second favorite means of exercise -- it was, surprise, an enjoyable means of recreation!
Have you ever seen the Friends episode where Phoebe joins Rachel on a morning run and bolts along the path, arms and legs flailing like a newborn fawn?
If not (shame on you), here is the gist of it:
Rachel is obviously embarrassed and tries to avoid ever running with Phoebe again. Eventually, Phoebe catches on and confronts her friend. Rachel tells Phoebe that her running style is an abomination, to which Phoebe responds that she runs like that because it reminds her of running when she was a kid and didn't have a care in the world.
That's how cycling makes me feel!
It's like going back to a time when my friends and I would hop on our bikes and ride all over town, stopping occasionally to take a dip in the city swimming pool, play a game of baseball, or grab an ice cream cone.
Another fond memory of mine is watching the thousands of cyclists pour into downtown Estherville during RAGBRAI in the summer of 1996. It was like the circus had come to town. There were riders of all different types, all riding different bikes and even a few wearing goofy costumes.
I was in awe of the mass of people that filled my hometown for an overnight stay, and thought how cool it would be to be a part of it.
Now, I will be -- for a day anyway.
That's right, yours truly will be riding from Rock Valley to Okoboji on the first day of RAGBRAI XLII.
My decision to ride the route was cemented the second Okoboji was named as an overnight stop for the first time in the ride's history, but it began last year while working in Le Mars.
If you've never been to Le Mars, let me fill you in -- there's ice cream, and that's about it.
Working late nights as a sports writer meant my days were pretty much wide open, so I had to find something to fill those hours -- and work off all that dairy and sugar.
I started out riding the 10-mile trail system from my downtown apartment each morning and constantly added distance.
Eventually, I was riding 20 miles every weekday before work and doing 90+ miles on the weekends. I became obsessed with riding.
In total, I rode over 1,500 miles on my bike last year -- while that is pretty pedestrian for most serious riders, I was stoked!
Unfortunately, I couldn't ride RAGBRAI XLI, but I jumped at the opportunity to ride this year, at least for a day.
Admittedly, I haven't done as much riding as last year. I've sprinkled in a few 30-35 mile rides here and there, and I feel pretty good. Right now I'm at 400 miles in total, which is way less than the suggested 1,500, but I think I'll make it back in one piece.
Mostly, I'm just excited to finally be a part of one of Iowa's great traditions.
RAGBRAI is said to be an experience unlike any other, and I am so excited to join in on the fun.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @Heinrix_54 and at the Dickinson County News Facebook page for live updates as I make my way from Rock Valley to Okoboji, and pick up next week's paper for a complete recap of my RAGBRAI experience!