Not sagging yet on RAGBRAI

BY TYLER FINCHUM | JULY 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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Tyler Finchum, a staffer at The Daily Iowan, will write about his first RAGBRAI experience for the rest of the week. This first installment recaps his first two days on the road.

EMMETSBURG, Iowa — For those of you who don’t already know, the 42nd RAGBRAI  began on Sunday. More than 10,000 cyclists, including me, set off  to spend the next seven days biking more than 400 miles from town to town across Iowa to eventually reach the Mississippi River.

This being my first RAGBRAI, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I heard it described by some as a party on wheels. However, after two days, I would describe RAGBRAI in three simple words: hell on wheels. 

On Sunday, I started off at Rock Valley and finished the day at Milford. Tonight, I set up camp in the northern Iowa town of Emmetsburg.

Physically and mentally it has been one of the toughest experiences I have had to deal with in some time.

While I wouldn’t describe myself as an extremely athletic person, I figured that I would at least be able to pull my own weight. But, boy, was I wrong.

About a quarter way through the first day’s 69.2-mile ride I was about ready to call it quits. My feet hurt. My butt hurt.

My 21-year-old ego became more and more bruised as a never-ending stream of cyclists passed me — and it didn’t help that most were three times my age.

It was only the fear of losing my pride that kept me from taking a sag wagon — a bus that follows the cyclists and will pick them up if they are too tired.

I hear that RAGBRAI gets easier after the first several days. The remainder of the week will determine if that proves true, or if my willpower will be trumped by the strong allure of the sag wagon.

Besides staying away from the temptation of the sag wagon, my goal is to find the one-and-only Lance Armstrong, who is riding the first four days of RAGBRAI this year. 

Rumor has it that he rides early, and he rides fast.  If found, I will try my best to have a thought provoking one-on-one interview that the DI is, of course, known for.

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