Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Longest Day

Here is a picture of Barry and Casey at one of the many stops along the way.

Thursday at the RAGBRAI was the day that one could add an extra loop to get a 100 mile ride in. Casey, Barry and Austin each completed the "century" ride and got the coveted patch. For each, it was their first century ride. The day ended up being warm and sunny with rain int he afternoon. Casey, Tom and Mike all finished before the afternoon rain, Barry and Austin both got caught in it.

We are staying at the home of Ed and Kathy Wilson in Ottumwa and it is wonderful. I am sitting in the kitchen writing this and half of the neighborhood is here enjoying the evening.

Tomorrow is another 70+ mile day for the riders and then an easy finish on Saturday.

Over the hump

Today will be the longest ride of the week, 77 miles with an added loop to give the riders a 100 mile option. The folks who add the loop get a special patch, so I have been encouraging everyone to do the hundred. After all, that's what they came here to do.

An intense thunderstorm rolled through this morning, beginning around 0400. It cleared by 0600 and everyone began preparing for the days ride. The route will be a little more crowded, as no one left early, as had been the case on previous days. The temps are a little warmer, and the humidity will be up.

The church we stayed at Wednesday night was the best site yet, they were very accommodating, letting us fill our water tanks and empty the others. The town is similar to all the others, a town square with a courthouse in the middle. The main activities center around this area, with food vendors and bike vendors around the perimeter. The shuttles from the outlying campsites are usually school buses. Indianola had the best shuttles, large John Deere tractors pulling wagons like those used in a parade.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It is Tuesday morning and I have arrived at the stopover town of Indianola, IA. This is the third town we have stopped in along the route across the state. So far, everyone we have met has been very hospitable. All the folks welcome us to their town and ask what they can do to help us. I had to stop at the hardware store in Red Oak to get an adapter for the RV. The manager there stated that he had just sold the part that I needed. I left him my cell phone number in case one was returned. He called me less than twenty minutes later to say he had the part and would hold it for me until I could run back for it. (it is easier to run around these small towns than it is to drive, and I get some miles in.) The guys are all riding well and have had no mechanical problems yet. The weather was perfect on Sunday, rained for half the day on Monday and has been overcast so far today. But the temps have been great for riding. I am not able to take the vehicle to the intermediate towns, but the guys say that they are all a great time. Near one town the Miller Light folks set up a beer garden in the middle of a field where you can stop and get an adult beverage. The bars in each town are packed at night, as you can imagine when 10,000 plus riders converge on them. The entertainment is good and gets a little crazy at times. Each town has a main stage for a feature group, but they charge admission, so we just go to the bars for entertainment. There are food vendors and bike shops that move along the route and set up each night in the host town. You can get some pretty good food, but you have to be early, as they run out later in the evening. There always seems to be enough beer though. There are many "teams" that ride together and they have old school buses that are rigged for rider support. You would not believe how many there are! Casy has taken most of the pictures, so when he gets in this afternoon, I will try to post a few.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Friday night and I am getting ready for the bike ride next week. Tomorrow is Annie's run, a six hour run here in the South Hills. I plan on doing about four hours before catching a ride to Omaha for the start of RAGBRAI on Sunday. I should be able to post a few reports from the route.

Jason D., Dave M., Donny K. and Sue W. are in Vermont for the 100 miler which begins Saturday morning. Word is that the trail is muddy, but I am sure they will all do well. Wayne and Jan K. will be at the mile 76 aid station helping out. Always cool to see folks helping out at races.

Jeff Gleason had a great run at the Badwater 135, I can't wait to get a report from him. There were two other somewhat local runners at Badwater, Alicia S. from Pa, and Elizabeth C. from Jersey both had excellent runs in the desert. They both finished Laurel last month so I was rooting for them.

I will check in from Iowa next.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Dog Days are here...

... and the running is hotter than ever. The spring and early summer saw many local runners doing extraordinary races. There was the Bull Run Run 50 and MMT100 in Virginia. The Laurel Highlands Ultras in PA, the Highlands Sky 40 in WV, Mohican 100 in OH and of course Western States and Hardrock out west.

There were a bunch of local runners who completed the Bull Run Run 50 in April to kick off the season. All of them did well, and there were a few humorous stories as well.

Dave Micklo did well at Western States 100, the first leg of the ultrarunnng grand slam. Up next for him is the Vermont 100. Perhaps I can get him to write a few words about Western States.

Bob Combs, our good friend from nearby Youngstown, OH is set to finish the Hardrock 100 as I write this. The HR100 is considered by many to be the toughest 100 mile run you can do (except perhaps the Barkley, but that is a different discussion).

Ron Ross from Cleveland finished the Mohican 100 in Ohio for the what seems like the umpteenth time.

Jeff Gleason should be in Death Valley right now, acclimating for the Badwater 135 which begins on Monday. If you get a chance, check the Post Gazette, as there are a couple of articles about Jeff running Badwater. He should do well, and has a great crew with him.

Wayne Kurtz returned from Hungary where he raced a double iron triathlon. He told me the race was held in a small town there, and all of the residents treated them like stars. They were asking the athletes for autographs. If you know Wayne, he is not into the publicity thing, but I am sure he enjoyed a moment in the spotlight. His training for the deca-iron in November is going well. I will be there reporting for the latter part of the race this year.

Next month, Bob Fargo and Dave Micklo will be traveling to Leadville for the 100 trail run there. I know Bob has some unfinished business there and will be ready to rumble. Bob has been putting in some monster miles on the Laurel Trail.

The Laurel Races went well this year, and the weather was perfect. If you always wanted to run a good time, in good conditions at Laurel, this was the year. For those of you that have not experienced this beautiful trail, you owe it to yourself to check it out. You don't have to wait for the race, as you can hike or run it any time of the year.

Next up, Anne's run on July 18th. It is a six hour run at the Gilfillen Trail in Upper St. Clair. The trial is a 1.25 mile loop on a wood chip surface. The race honors Sam Bertenthals' late wife Anne whom we sadly lost this past year. The race starts at 0600. Check the Greater Pittsburgh Road Runners website for more information.

Don't forget the Greek Fun Run at Wayne's house at the end of August. It will be a great training run for those of you getting ready for fall races. The info is here:

I will try to check in next week before I leave for RAGBRAI, where I will be touring the great state of Iowa for a week.

Keep running well,