Sunday, July 30, 2006

RAGBRAI Day 7 - Coralville to Muscatine

End of the Road. That's the Mississippi River.

It's pretty exciting to ride into town at the end of RAGBRAI. All the people are sitting out on their lawns like it's a parade and they cheer you.

I saw a funny spectacle at the traditional Mississippi River wheel dip. The wheel dip is on a fairly steep boat ramp. In the water it is very slick and slimy with algae. Dude comes up on a trike to dip his front wheels.

The important detail to know is that on a trike the brakes are on the front wheels and there is no brake on the rear wheel.

So as soon as his front wheels hit the algae, he slides right into the river.

Now for the sad part where RAGBRAI is over and everyone leaves. Here is the parking lot at Muscatine Community College, where the groups with box trucks load up the people and bags onto tour buses and put the bikes in the trucks and head back to Des Moines. (By the way, at Muscatine Community College, you can major in "Feed and Fertilizer Marketing". I am not making this up.)

Jim headed back to Chicago, and Laura and I are continuing on to Chicago on the Bicycle Illinois' first annual "Northern Illinois Tour". The Northern Illinois tour conveniently starts from Muscatine Community College, so we didn't have to go anywhere, which was nice because the student center was highly air conditioned and it was in the upper 90s with a heat index of something like 112 degrees.


I didn't get much sleep last night, because the dim bulbs in Coralville thought it would be a great idea to park RVs on the road right next to where they had us camp.

Bedtime comes and all the RVs are running their noisy generators and fouling the air with diesel smoke so they can sit their human hog butts inside in the air conditioning and watch satellite TV.

I decided to see if I could get them to shut down the generators so the hundreds of tent campers could sleep.

The first RV on our block shut down. This may be because they had some kids in their party sleeping in a tent next to the RV.

Here's the second RV. It was built on a tour bus, and it had a very, very loud generator. I bang on the door. An old man comes to the door. I ask him when he plans to turn off his generator. He says "I don't want to get heat stroke." I told him his noise was making it hard for me to sleep in my tent. He said you should have set up somewhere else. I pointed out to him that he wasn't there when I set up. So when are you going to shut down the generator? He shut his door in my face and I heard the lock click. He ran his generator all night.

This human hog containment facility had a bike chained to the front wheel. The RAGBRAI sign on the bike says it belongs to Art Knapp of Santa Barbara, California. It also had a sign in the front window advertising At the photobuz site, they have a contact e-mail address, which is where the link to this blog is being sent in a few minutes.

On to the next human hog containment facility. On this one, I came upon a family consisting of a couple and two teenage/twentyish kids leaving the RV. I asked them when they plan to turn off the generator. The father figure says "We're going to run it pretty late." I told him his generator was making it very difficult for me to sleep. I asked him what made him think it why it was OK for him to disrupt all the tent campers nearby so he could watch TV. His response was "I paid the money." This just infuriated me. I went on a tirade that because he paid some money does not entitle him to make a lot of noise to disrupt everyone else's sleep and pollute the air for everyone else with diesel exhaust.

I wound up bellowing "HUMAN HOG" at the top of my lungs every time he opened his mouth to speak. Eventually he and his porcine spawn went inside. They ran their generator all night.

When I hit the road at 7:00 the next morning, none of them had emerged, which is too bad, because I wanted to ask them how well they slept.

Here is the route for the last day of RAGBRAI. It was flat and easy, I was at the river before 10:00.

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