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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

From the Midway: RAGBRAI left me kind of flat

Monday, July 30, 2012

Now that the big old bike ride event has finally come and gone, I'd like to express how the whole experience and me for some reason just didn't jell.

I never really experienced RAGBRAI before. My past encounters with this extremely popular event have consisted of sitting in traffic on some intersection in the middle of nowhere trying to wait to cross the road, or planning my travels to not intersect with the swarm of bikers that is RAGBRAI.

Since it was announced that Cherokee was going to be an overnight stop on this year's route, I felt I was the only person who was not excited about this event.

During the past couple of months I watched how the City of Cherokee and the scores of volunteers worked tirelessly in making this a wonderful experience and to showcase Cherokee as the wonderful community that it is.

By the way they succeeded magnificently.

I thought to myself that I was just being an old fuddy-duddy about feeling impassive about RAGBRAI. So I decided to turn my frown upside down and make the best out of this experience.

So I threw myself into getting into the spirit of thing; however, there was a part of me that just can't wrap my noodle around why anyone would want to ride a bike across the state of Iowa during the hottest week of the year.

So I thought that when I finally got to meet some of the folks on the ride my curiosity would finally be answered. But sadly it wasn't.

I went into last Sunday with my best smile on and thought, here's an opportunity to get some fabulous photos. The photos I got, but things just didn't feel right for me.

I first noticed something wasn't quite right when I was walking along Main Street and thought it was really weird that I didn't recognized any of the faces that packed both sides of the street. All these strangers in one's hometown really threw me, and that was something I never anticipated.

The riders were nice and polite but every time that I tried to engage in conversation with a person I got that look of "who this guy?"

The most substantial conversation I engaged in was when people came up to me and asked questions like, "Do you know were the VFW is? Where's Jobies? How do I get to the fairgrounds?"

This too threw me off kilter. My mind was saying, how do you not know were these places are?

Then it hit me that these folks are strangers in a strange land and my good old boy training kicked in and politely told them how to get to their destination.

Talking to other locals, I hear them tell fabulous story of meeting people from all across America and I heard other stories of inspiration and shared experience of this great event.

Now that's what I wanted, to meet some of those people. However, I got the experience of a gentleman coming up to me and saying, "Hey - You're a local aren't you?"

I responded, "Why, yes I am. As a matter of fact I was born here in Cherokee."

The man then asked me, "So where are you from?"

Needless to say our conversation did not last much longer - and neither did my enthusiasm for RAGBRAI.

Mike Leckband
From the Midway