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Sunday, July 22, 2012

SSS Adventure at RAGBRAI- Day 1

The SSS Girls working hard to stay hydrated at the Expo

Where to start?  Sweet Spot Skirts is loving Iowa and the amazing people we’ve met so far!  Some of us are adjusting to the heat (Steph, Dave)  and others are loving the hot temps (yep, I’m crazy! And Sophia complains regardless).  We had a great expo experience yesterday and were amazed at how many people we met from all over the US who travel year after year to come to RAGBRAI.  Susan and Wes were absolutely fantastic to work with, and we were excited to find a RAGBRAI jersey that matches Diamonds BFF Blue perfectly (Steph and I will be wearing them tomorrow!)  For anyone who doesn’t know, RAGBRAI is a yearly biking event where 15,000 people ride their bikes across Iowa, Missouri River to Mississippi River.  The route changes every year, but this year it is 471 miles and we ride an average of 70 miles per day through the rolling Iowan hills.  The first day Stephanie drove the truck and trailer (we're trading off driving duties), and David and I rode our bikes the 57 miles today to Cherokee, Iowa.  I chose my current favorite Sweet Spot Skirt (Flamingo Flair) to commemorate the occasion.  Stephanie, a perfect Support Sag, met up with us halfway to give us cold drinks and yummy sandwiches.

One Low-light of the day:
·      Getting ready to leave at 7 am and finding my bike has 2 flat tires.  It’s my first flat, so Dave and Steph teach me how to change them.  7 miles in, back tire pops.  We fix it again.  5 miles from end town, front tire pops.  Not sure what is going on…but at this rate, I will need 24 more tubes to make it through the ride…

Much better highlights so far:
·      Watching 1 Unicycle, 1 skateboard, numerous recumbent and boom boxes galore make the trek!
·      Riding through Orange City, a quaint Dutch town (people were even out in their wooden shoes to cheer us on)
·      Seeing amazing food stands offering everything from French toast to pork sandwiches to eggs on sticks
·      Triple tandems (what are those even called?), some even with little kids on them!
·      Plugging in and staying the night at Deb’s beautiful house, which is right on the end of the day’s route in Cherokee.  We met her yesterday at the expo and with generous hospitality she volunteered her space.
·      Cheering on the cyclists as they finish the route- so many athletic abilities, ages and types of rides, but all with sheer enthusiasm and determination!
·      Having people say hello after the ride, many wanting to buy skirts, some desiring a tour of the airstream and one couple even offering us their house to stay at if (/when) we make it to Chicago (careful- we will take you up on it!)
·      Steph getting a police escort to park the trailer going against the thousands of bike rider traffic
·      Eating dinner at the Community Center to benefit Kate and her charity that supports women dealing with breast cancer and their out-of-pocket medicine costs

Tomorrow will be a great day!

Temporary Truck Troubles at Sweet Spot Skirts

Not Black Beauty's Favorite Moment
As we headed out of town a week ago Friday,  we were excited for our upcoming events and the huge unknown of what to expect with RABRAI (the 40th year of this across-Iowa bike race).  First exciting stop:  Boise for the Goldilocks all-women bike ride.  Setup was at 4 am the next day, so our plan was to get into town late afternoon and relax before the big day.   We had sunshine, country music blaring and a smooth ride until the power steering acted up at a rest stop.  Note:  Just minutes earlier, I had posted on Facebook “Let the Adventure Begin…”  Much to my surprise, Stephanie pulled power steering fluid out of the back, filled it up and we were on our way again.  Much high-fiving ensued, as we were so proud that we solved the truck issue just like that!  Unfortunately, our celebration was a bit too soon…the truck proceeded to overheat, we pulled over, and ended up waiting for a tow truck for an hour.  We called numerous repair shops in the greater area, but being Friday 5 pm, all were closing or already closed.  Stephanie and I put our heads together and brainstormed every possible way out…but the real “coincidences” happened when our tow truck driver arrived. 

It turns out the normal driver had just quit, so Mike (the owner of Guss Motors in LaGrande, OR) was taking over for the day.  He kindly towed us (truck and trailer!) our Triple AAA allotted 100 miles + the extra 50 to Caldwell, where we proceeded to park at his brother’s Dodge dealer (what are the chances his brother owned the dealership that we needed?!?)  He said we could stay there in the parking lot for the night.  My friend Colin was luckily still living in Boise for a few last days before relocating to business school, so he happily volunteered to take us to the airport to get a rental car.  Saturday morning Stephanie and I awoke at 4 am to set up for the event, miraculously fitting all our skirts, tent and event supplies into the rented sedan.  Dani put on a wonderful Goldilocks event (as usual!) and we were so happy to be a part and meet such wonderful women.  While we were working, the Dodge dealer couriered the needed part and fixed the car before they closed at 3 pm…and we were on our way once again!

A Better Moment
Fast forward 4 days and we’re driving in 104 heat through the South Dakota Badlands.  We had a wonderful morning at Wall Drug and enjoyed the gorgeous moon-like scenery of the Badlands.  The truck’s running pretty hot, so we stop in Mitchell to get frozen yogurt (we figure if we cool ourselves off with a treat, the truck will be happier too!)  As we leave, the truck gauge gets up to red and we immediately pull into an adjacent transmission shop.  We don’t even know if they fix trucks…but the employees were so incredibly helpful.  They looked at the truck, found that our fan had JUST broken, called for a part and had it fixed in about 15 minutes.  Had we not stopped, we could have fried the engine.  Quick reaction time, Steph!  Best part:  we were freed up in time to see the World’s Only Corn Palace before we continued on to Iowa!
 Stay tuned for more adventures (but not truck mishaps, hopefully!)