Day 4 - La Mars to Sheldon, Iowa - RAGBRAI Day 1

I am sitting at our campground in a drainage ditch in Sheldon, Iowa, waiting for the massive thunderstorms to begin. This is great. It will break the heat, which was in the 90s again today.

I got a very early start so I could beat the heat. I really hammered it, and I was in Sheldon at 10:30. I had to stop to make an adjustment to the bike and I had a great picture of all the cyclists riding over the rolling hills through the corn, but the battery was dead, so I couldn't take a picture. Instead, I took a picture of the grain elevator next door to the convenience store where I bought more batteries.

I couldn't take a picture of Mr. Pork Chop today, either, due to the battery situation. I'm sure I will have plenty more opportunities. Mr. Pork Chop sells pork chops for $6, and he is about 30 miles down the road every day. Today, he was also selling special discount cards which get you 6 pork chops for $30, in case you want to have a pork chop every day. I had to control myself and not go for that.

After I got in to Sheldon, I set up camp, and then walked over to the blissfully air-conditioned Iowa Telecom trailer and uploaded the web site. Then I walked down to the city park for lunch from the many food vendors and was entertained by the fine live entertainment, such as "The Tubador".

When I took this picture, he was playing Duke Ellington's "Caravan". It was remarkably good.

They also had mechanical bull riding, which was drawing a big crowd.

I spent most of the day sitting by the pool, which was across the street from our camp site, reading Harry Potter. I would jump in the pool every half hour or so to cool off.

The pool was a great RAGBRAI scene. Some background, you have to understand the stereotypical RAGBRAI participant. Most RAGBRAI riders join a "team". The team chips in and buys an old school bus to haul the gear between towns. These school buses are usually equipped with a keg fridge, a shower, and have something rude painted on the side. The stereotypical RAGBRAI rider stays at the beer garden all night, doesn't get on the road until 9 or 10 in the morning, and hits every bar and beer garden on the route.

So today, when it was 100 degrees out, the nice neighborhood swimming pool was mobbed by RAGBRAI riders. The line for the showers stretched out the front door. There were guys filling up the sinks with water and shoving inner tubes in them to find the leak. And the pool was elbow to elbow.

This pool has a diving board, and the local youth were lined up to do dives. The RAGBRAI crowd stood around in the shallow end spectating. When some kid got up and looked intent on doing a fancy dive, they all went "Oooooh!" And if the kid nailed the dive they would cheer, and if they missed it they would boo the poor kid. It was a classic scene.

Here is today's route. It was pretty flat, with some easy grades.