Today is the day Rachel Plessing, along with 15,000 other riders are making their way 450 miles across Iowa.
"I have never seen so many bikes in one place," said Plessing, a 23-year-old Iowa native and first-time RAGBRAI rider who is looking forward to the back-to-back days of riding. “I can't wait to see the great state of Iowa!”
Talking with her got me thinking about all my senses and the complete experience of RAGBRAI.
Touch: When I talk to people about riding across Iowa the first comment I usually get is,"Isn't your rear end sore?" And for most people, the answer is yes. Cycling all day can make the bottom sore but by the end of the seven days, the bottom is used to the bike seat. So much that most people find it difficult to go back to the mundane office chair.
Sight: What cyclists see most is the color green. Green fields and green soybeans on either side of the county roads. Along with these fields are big red barns, silos and family homes. Many of these homes have lemonade and watermelon stands. You'll also see spectators handing out free water bottles and little kids reaching out to slap high fives with riders as they roll by.
Taste: When I asked my husband what he was looking forward to eating, it took him no time to think and blurt out ICE CREAM from Beekman's Homemade Ice Cream in Pocahontas, Iowa. I countered him by saying the local county cattlemen prime rib sandwiches.
Smell: Close your eyes. (Just kidding, you should always ride bike with your eyes open). Breathe in and smell all that corn tasseling. If you grew up in the Midwest, you know what I am talking about. The sweet smell that only happens this time of year when the corn drops its seeds and pollinated the ear of corn. It can mostly be smelled in the early morning when RAGBRAI riders are taking down their tents or in the evening as riders are talking around the camp.
Sound: Crickets chirping as you ride by the fields. Riders pulling carted boom boxes of music for all generations. People laughing and talking. And maybe a bit of huffing and puffing as each cyclist makes their way up the hill on to the next town. The whir of the tires on the pavement in the early morning as the sun rises in the east.