RAGBRAI L, Day Five, July 27, 2023

Des Moines to Tama-Toledo, 82 miles, 3,652 feet of climb 🙁

The sun peeked over the downtown Des Moines skyline as I followed the crowd out of town. The first pass-through town, Altoona, was a mere 14 miles away. My plan for this day was to breeze through the pass-through towns because of the heat and hills. I wouldn’t have the luxury of hanging around, soaking up the atmosphere. I had serious riding to do.

Interestingly, there was a thin cloud cover that mitigated some of the heat this day, but a hot sun wasn’t my biggest concern. Throughout the week my butt had gotten sorer and sorer. Perspiration and chafing were the culprits. Not much I could do to lessen the pain. I had applied chamois butter before taking off, but that protection was long gone.

I stopped in one of the pass-through towns, Newton, and sought out a drugstore and hopefully, Vaseline, one of my substitutes for chamois butter. Found a drugstore which was thankfully being air-conditioned on full blast, and the wonderful employee fulfilled my request for Vaseline.

Armed with a supply of petroleum jelly, I hopped into one of the porta-potties and applied liberal amounts of the stuff to my sore bottom. Rather than get right back on my bike, I grabbed some food and found a bench on the sidewalk in some shade. Right about then, a woman approached me and offered to let me into her air-conditioned dance studio, which I gladly accepted. There were other cyclists also taking advantage of her hospitality. Iowans are just nice people, and the cool air was a great respite from the heat.

Eventually I had to get going again. I rolled through Kellogg and Grinnell, which left 24 miles to Tama-Toledo. If you’ve ever done any long-distance cycling, you know that the last miles before your destination can be the longest. Such was the case. I finally rolled into Tama and then Toledo around 7:00 pm. The route was supposed to be closed by now, but since there were still hundreds of rides still on the route, traffic control remained in place.

When I finally reached my charter campsite, my Garmin displayed 90 miles, the most miles I had ever ridden on a bike. I was so tired I barely made it to the beer tent, but of course, I did. I ate some snack food and headed to my tent for the night. All week I had not gone to any of the concerts that were part of RAGBRAI L. This was because getting shuttles to the venue was a pain, so I opted out. Tonight though, the music venue was the next field over. The featured band, Foghat (from an era I can relate to), serenaded me to sleep.

Author: brianbartleyberlin

Adventure cyclist. No spandex, carbon fiber or cleats. My ride is a 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker, made of steel, built to last.

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