RAGBRAI the next generation

On RAGBRAI with Jaylee (I'm the one on the left)

I am a first generation RAGBRAI-er. I started riding as a 14-year-old on RAGBRAI IV in 1976. Over the years as my children have grown I have taken them on RAGBRAI. Jaylee is the  seventh of my eight children and over the years all of her older siblings have ridden on RAGBRAI with me.

This year I took my 13-year-old daughter Jaylee with me. We chose Wednesday, the shortest flattest day from Boone to Altoona. Jaylee was nervous about riding the whole 56 miles so we picked up the ride in the middle at Alleman. We got together with my friend Jared, a triathlete on his first RAGBRAI, and drove to Alleman. We unloaded the bikes and got on the road at about 8:00 am. Since Alleman was about 32 miles into the ride, our start time put us pretty early in the pack.

Weather was a big concern, there was a chance of thunderstorms and temperatures in the 90’s with high humidity. As it turned out since we got off the road early we avoided the heat and the storms never happened. It was a beautiful day for a ride. At first the ride was flat or even a bit downhill. Jared and I tried to encourage Jaylee to set the pace because we did not know if we were riding too fast or too slow for her. I think she was worried about keeping up with me.

As it turned out she need not worry. At 13 Jaylee is a competitive swimmer and in excellent shape. I am 50 and clearly out of shape. When we hit the few moderate hills on the ride the difference in fitness levels became apparent. Like all old men I get to reminisce a bit, in my younger days, the guys I rode with and I would charge full speed up the biggest hill of the day singing Monty Python songs. Once we reached the top, we would ride back down just to repeat the performance and climb it again. On days with especially big hills we would often pass the same people once going up, twice going down and a third time climbing up again. Well that was then and this is now. As soon as we hit a big hill I slowed to a crawl and Jaylee and Jared rode on ahead. At the top of the hill there was a stand selling fruit slushes so when I got there I stopped and enjoyed a smoothie in the shade. Jared and Jaylee waited so long in the next town they were almost ready to come back and look for me:)

In the end, we had a great ride. Jaylee had a blast and she is convinced that she can ride a whole day or more next year. The smile on her face says it all — mission accomplished. Now I have to get my wife to try it.

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3 Responses to RAGBRAI the next generation

  1. Nikki Demuth says:

    good luck with that! I rode, years ago, from Greene to Waterloo, had a blast but would die if I tried it now! But it was fun, even if my bottom and legs protested the rest of that night after!!

  2. Jared Christensen says:

    I still wonder if I could have kept up had her deraleur been working properly. She was riding what was effectively a three speed. By the way, even though its 100 degrees out, I’m starting to think about winter riding already and have plans to ride even more this winter on the snow and ice. I found a bike shop on ebay selling studded Nokians at huge discount because its summer and they want to clear out their inventory. This should be fun…

  3. Jared Christensen says:

    RAGBRAI represented another first for Jaylee: I was keeping pace with her down a big hill and when we got to the bottom I asked her if she had ever done 30 mph on a bike before. She replied “no”. I told her, “You just did”. I think she was a little surprised that she had been going that fast.

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