Day Five: Chariton to Ottumwa - the rolling mardi gras - CycleBlaze

July 23, 2009

Day Five: Chariton to Ottumwa

Shortly after leaving this morning, around Millerton, we saw an Amish family selling food on the side of the road so we pulled over and split a slice of black raspberry pie. It was so good we split another piece, and that was so good that I bought a brownie.

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This morning our route took us through Millerton, Bethlehem, Confidence, Iconium (which I kept wanting to call Meconium; no, don't look it up in the dictionary), and the Honey Creek Resort. We were going to eat lunch at the resort until we found out it's actually a couple of miles off the route and they were shuttling people (or you could pedal) to the main area. Once we learned that, we decided to ride on to Moravia.

Today's route offers the "opportunity" for a person to ride 100 miles in one day, also called a century. You'll hear some people say that the reason it's called a century is that both have the number 100 in them. I personally think that the reason is that your butt feels like it's been sitting on the saddle for about a hundred years (at least, that is, when you're as slow as me). We opted not to go the extra 22 miles today.

Here are some pictures from along the way:

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There are all kinds of bicycles on RAGBRAI. The majority of people ride a regular road bike, but there are also a lot of recumbents, tandems, and tandem recumbents. (recumbent = sitting down with your feet out in front of you; tandem = bicycle for two people) Among the recumbents there are Above Seat Steering, Below Seat Steering, Short Wheel Base, Medium Wheel Base, and Long Wheel Base. Here are a few I saw along the way:

below seat steering recumbent
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above seat steering recumbent
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above seat steering recumbent
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tandem recumbent
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This guy has a handcycle instead of a bicycle, and uses his upper body to pedal instead of his legs.

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Look very closely at this guy's seat:

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Right... there isn't one. He pedaled the entire distance standing up.

I think one of the most amazing things I saw on the trip was this guy:

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A UNICYCLE! His mode of transportation has a fixed gear, which means there are no brakes, and no shifting. Uphill, downhill, it's all the same. And yes, he made it the entire way.

I saw several Bike Fridays. In just a couple of minutes, these bicycles fold up and will fit into a regular-sized suitcase, saving the hundred or so dollars it costs to ship it on a plane.

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There seem to be two types of riders at RAGBRAI. The first type, like me, tools along at a leisurely pace, stopping for... oh, say, black raspberry pie for example... my head up and looking at the scenery and keeping an eye out for the unusual. The second type gets from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. Most of them ride in packs and take turns drafting, frequently traveling 20-25 mph.

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Team Bad Boy (below) is definitely the first type. It's hard to tell from these pictures, but behind one of the bikes there is a full bar. Behind another, there's a BBQ grill. I WOULD say they carry everything but the kitchen sink, but behind a third bike (not pictured) is a kitchen sink.

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The State Troopers were a lot of help, especially considering how many bikers there were. They frequently had music playing through their speakers as we passed their roadblocks for the cars. This festive-looking trooper was in one of the towns.

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This young woman pedaled the whole distance on this one-speed bike.

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...and so did this one...

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When you sign up for RAGBRAI you get a band that goes around your wrist and another band that goes around your bike to identify you as a registered rider. This person has been in quite a few over the years.

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We pedaled through Moravia (pop 713), Unionville (pop 127), Blakesville (pop 0), and on to Ottumwa for the night.

Ottumwa (pop 24,998) is the home of several famous personalities, including Tom Arnold (actor), Carol Morris (1956 Miss Universe), Edna Ferber (novelist), Steve Bales (Apollo 11 flight controller), and Radar O’Reilly (the fictitious character from the TV show M*A*S*H).

We had wanted to get into town town early enough so that we could lay out all of our stuff to dry from last night's storm. However, just as we were rolling up to our campsite it began raining, gradually at first, then more heavily. We set up our tents and covered everything as best as we could and and hung out under the big tent until it stopped. When I looked online to see what the weather was going to do I saw that it was only raining in one tiny spot in the entire state:  Ottumwa. 

After it stopped raining we showered and caught one of the shuttles to the grocery store. The shuttles didn't actually GO there, but the driver offered to drop us off and pick us up later even though it wasn't on the route.

Each evening, fireflies lit up the area. Tonight, as we were falling asleep, we watched a stray firefly walking along the top of our tent. It was a nice way to fall asleep.

Distance 78.08
Average speed 12.9
Maximum speed 39.0
Time 6:00.29
Cumulative 334.6
Climbed feet 3388

Today's ride: 78 miles (126 km)
Total: 336 miles (541 km)

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