It’s active recovery week.
No structured training, no schedule, no heart rate monitor, no intervals, no pace clock, no watts. Just keeping active and doing whatever I want to do. Because of that I have also decided there will be no structured blogging. Instead I will force feed you a steady diet of zone 1 ramblings written from the comfortable seat of my couch.
This week I’ll be busy with my brother Pete and his girl Melissa and baby Annabel. They flew in from Seattle and I couldn’t be more excited because this is only the second time I’ve gotten to hang with my niece since she was born. Chris also got his first taste of what a baby is really like. This is good for the man that wants 17 children. Perhaps the funniest thing was when I suggested Chris hold the baby and he kind of stuck out his arms like a sofa chair and Annabel looked at him like WTF dude? We’ve eaten dinner with them the past two nights at my mom’s house and there’s nothing like eating dinner with a 9 month old who is more fascinated by throwing food over the high chair than putting it in their mouth. We were surprised at how much she ate but then realized 99 percent of the food was either on the floor or caught in the trough of her bib. By the way – coolest bib ever made by Baby Bjorn that literally has a plastic trough that catches all food (Brenda, any child of B.O.B.’s NEEDS THIS bib). Also entertains baby – when she runs out of food she just looks in the bib and digs something yummy out of there. I told Pete that he and Melissa should make it a fun drinking game – to dare each other to eat from the Bib Trough or take another shot (Brenda, also a good idea for you and B.O.B.).
Chris and I took Bel or B or Annabelly for a walk last night in her new stroller. We decided to bring Boss along. Little did we know Boss would be the problem child. Annabel of course was content to sit in the stroller and share her voice with the world. This kid loves to make noise. The louder the better. Boss however walked about a half of a block before he decided he had gone too far outside of his comfort zone. Oh Boss. Like Jen said, get over your bad self. But if you have a dog you know that when they put on the brakes there is just no use. So we ended up putting Boss in the bottom basket of the stroller. It was the perfect size. Boss really enjoyed the ride and Annabel really enjoyed having Boss in tow. Also made a note that when we buy a stroller (IN TEN YEARS MOM) we will need one big enough for a baby and Boss.
My mom has spent the week trying to feed us as much as possible like any good Italian mom would. Mostly it is stuff like pie and ice cream – and wine and gin and beer. The apples don’t fall far from the tree in our family. My mom made her way through pregnancy eating ice cream and drinking stout. She also has been known to tango with a bottle of Tanqueray. The funny thing about my mom is that if you tell her you like something you can pretty much guarantee seeing loads of it for the rest of your life. There is this rumor in my family that I love ice cream (LIES) so much that I will eat it straight from the carton all at once. Again this is a lie and I did not eat straight from the carton the other night and I will not be touching one of probably many more gallons in the freezer now since my mom realized I liked the stuff.
My husband has been busy this week recovering too but also nesting for Ragbrai. There is bike-related stuff all over our house. A giant bag with sports bars, Ensure and enough baby wipes to wipe all of Ragbrai’s ass clean. That’s right, this weekend I am re-releasing him into the wild for his annual hall pass. One week of bike riding, eating pork on a stick, buying homemade pie, guzzling dollar draws at the American Legion and of course naked beer slides.
Yes, friends, husband is heading out on Ragbrai.
Ragbrai is an acronym for Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. The ride has been in existence for over 35 years. And my husband’s friends have been going for over 20 years. Do the math – that’s like saying they’ve been going since they learned to pedal a bike. In fact, some were so young when they started that I believe their first ride was on a BMX.
Each day you bike 60 to 100 miles. You start by the Nebraska border and ride east. Each night you stop in some small town Iowa marked by a tall water tower, endless fields of corn, and some old guy with no teeth wearing overalls. You ask some hapless stranger if you and your 5 maybe 10 maybe 15 ok by night’s end about 20 of your friends can camp in their backyard. Little do they know that camping also includes drinking copious amount of cheap beer and at some point hiding your eyes when 25 percent of the group removes their clothes for whatever reason people remove their clothes when it’s 9 pm and you’re in small town Iowa.
NOTE: There is no good reason at all.
Which is exactly why Ragbrai is such a raving success. It’s ridiculous to say the least. You have thousands of grown adults – mostly older adults – that escape to Iowa each year to spend a week in spandex with a beer can in their hand. The amazing thing is that they ride – they all ride. Big, little, young, old, some on recumbent, tandems, rollerblades – have wheels, will ride no matter how slow or fast they go. They have team names, team buses, team stickers. For most of them, Ragbrai is serious stuff; this one week out of the year is what they live the rest of the year for.
Or that’s how it is with husband’s friends.
I myself attended 5 Ragbrais. Oh yes the riding was good. Oh yes I ate Chriscakes 20 miles out of town. I survived on shitty coffee for a week if I got it all. I paid 5 bucks for a shower in a high school lockerroom. I begged some little old lady to let me use her washing machine. I saw half the team naked. I met Team Tiny. I saw Big Earl’s Girls. I spent a week using Kybos that included hours of waiting in line. I paid 3 bucks for a Gatorade. I was involved in a covert operation to possess someone’s lawn jockey. I experienced the full 360 degrees of everything known as Ragbrai.
Though it’s 7 days of riding, it’s really an opportunity to spend a week disconnecting from the real world – back then no cell phone, no internet, nothing but beautiful scenery, my bike and a large group of friends. Days filled with warm summer sun and my favorite sound in the whole world – wheels on pavement. All of these are really all you need to survive in the world.
And each year it rolls around I miss it. I stopped going in 2006. At that time, I couldn’t justify a week’s vacation spent in Iowa. Not that it wasn’t worth it – there were just other places I wanted to be. Another year went by without it and then this year rolled around. I’ll be releasing my husband into the Ragbrai wild happily – for him – but it makes me a little sad. I would love to go. To spend a week worrying about nothing but getting from the start town to the end town.
Part of me is playing with the idea of pulling the ultimate act of nimble vagrancy – showing up at the Nebraska border on Saturday with a bicycle, hobo stick and some cash. Ready to ride. If I’m lucky I’ll have Bert with me and he’ll bring Subway sandwiches for everyone. I’m dying to spend a week shouting ON YER LEFT, car back, car up, slowing, stopping, CRACK and playing the game of chance. The game of chance involves is a risky game where you ride up towards some females and before you go around them you announce that you will play the game of chance. You win the game of chance if you go around the females and they are hot. You lose the game of chance if you go around them and that hot ass turned out to be…a man. Yeah, that’s what happens when you spend a week with 12 men in Iowa. Things get a little gritty and inappropriate like that.
Other things the boys have done: climb the beer garden tent pole naked, buried roadkill in the preacher’s yard while sprinkling Coors Light over its grave (sadly this is on video), handcycle races that involve hovering over your handlebars and pushing your bike forward by using your right hand only on the front wheel, walking off a casino bus naked, getting arrested, being hauled off in a R2unit (when you spend a week with a bunch of Star Wars dorks they find reference for everything, an R2 unit is an ambulance).
Like every other year, my husband has packed like a woman and is bringing two bikes, 12 pieces of luggage and his toolbox. He too has missed out on the past 2 years but has been lured back with the Ragbrai siren song. I hear it too. And this week of active recovery makes me think a lot about what I should be doing next week. Playing wall tag with the pool. Trying to find zone 3 on the run. Seriously? Another week of...that? Not that I’m burnt out on training but I’m getting a little…..well, it’s time for a midseason break and time to have (enter novel concept) ... FUN.
So if I disappear next week for a week, you can locate me via sophisticated GPS unit at the intersection of corn and soybeans in some place like Keokuk, Iowa watching a bunch of men vie for the world record of shotgunning beer on a corner. You are all invited. Just bring your bike, one pair of shorts and your non-library voice ready to shout on yer left.