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The 10th RASH Ride, Independence, IA: 340 registered riders!

The RASH Ride in Independence is one of the best organized rides in all of eastern Iowa. We had 340 registered riders this year and a few locals who have started to come along for the ride.

The RASH Ride out of Independence in early to mid-June is always a good time. To me, it's the most well organized, solidly supported bike ride in eastern Iowa. There's a sag vehicle to go fetch riders who are overcome by the heat, can't pedal another stroke, or hurt. There are signs to indicate the routes, and T-shirts are optional.

The Lions Club put on a good breakfast first thing in the morning for $6 a person. The Lions served French toast, sausage, good scrambled eggs, tater tots, orange juice, and coffee. We were surprised when one rider whipped out a bottle of vodka with which to doctor his group's OJ at 9:30 a.m. Others might not be.

The first bar, before we left Independence, was Pat's Tavern. Pat's filled up quickly with MelonHeads and Team Regulators, three-fourths of whom are police officers, mostly from Cedar Rapids, but also from Independence and other places. 

I met a few Cedar Rapids police officers. One was Sarah Lacina, who had a tan and a firm handshake. I took photos of the police officers inside the bar, none of which turned out because my cell phone was already full of photos from the High Trestle Trail Ride. (Sorry, Sarah!)

I was so pumped from seeing strong, confident, fun-loving women police officers that I stayed right behind some of the fastest riders leaving town. However, once we turned into a headwind from the south at the top of a big hill, I slowed down as I looked for the little stair-step Amish children at my favorite farm between Littleton and Jesup. At the top of the last big hill, I started to bonk outside Jesup. I know I haven't spent enough time in the saddle, because I was strong and fast to start, just like I was in my youth.

Last year's RAGBRAI, especially in the hills of Kimballton, taught me to get into the mind-over-matter groove, the siege mentality if you will, when I just trudge up those hills one pedal stroke at a time with my head down, and the wind blowing hot and hard against me. A couple of grandparents-to-be rejoiced at the top of one hill that their daughter, who was obviously texting them as to her progress, was about to have her baby and their third grandbaby.

"Do you think we'd be on a bike ride if we were about to have a grandbaby?" my husband asked me. I'd have to think about it. I'd be a little worried, given the time I had having our children. But biking would work off stress if I wasn't actually asked to be in delivery room.

Jesup was a disaster. There was one bartender at the Legacy and a whole lot of thirsty riders. The Legacy could have made a lot more money with more staff and better service. At Bucketz, the second bar in Jesup, there were obnoxious, loud drunks in the booth behind us. They were surprised, actually surprised, that I took their exception to their random shouts at top volume. I can't even say what they were discussing in a family newspaper. The loudest yelled that his ex-wife was partying ("making time") with his buddies at their booth.

"That's it!" I finally said and went to find the manager when the drunks refused to tone it down. The manager spoke to them about their language and volume, but a bit later the loudest drunk started shouting stupid stuff like "Sea Biscuit!" anyhow. Fortunately, Sarah Lacina walked in at that moment with some other cops and asked me if the drunk was bothering me. I assured her he was. As I left, she was talking to him.

Dean Wermer's advice to Flounder in "Animal House" came to mind: "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Team Regulators can show up any time. I see them as a real plus to our bike ride. They're low key, not in uniform, and helpful.

Jim and I did the 25-mile route. It was hot and windy. The other MelonHeads and our friends Mike and Roger O'Brien, as well as Mike's girlfriend Rebecca DeWitte, did the 50-miler.

Bill's Pizza had a respectable number of customers, but not everybody returned there or stayed for dinner once they did, which was too bad because Bill does most of the RASH Ride organizing and advertising.

Fortunately, Mike, Roger, and Rebecca, as well as Mike's and Roger's parents were there. We also ran into Jeff Niemeier, our kids' former taekwondo instructor, who was there with friends from Phoenix.

Mike Rasmussen from Iowa City was there. He's a designer at ACT and we greet each other while riding on Sand Road. My training miles are short because of my bad case of flu this summer, but I broke 300 miles on the RASH Ride. Jim has 300 miles on his road bike and another 300 on his commuter bike.

Arianna's in Independence was our breakfast stop after sleeping at the Rush Park Motel overnight. Arianna's is fast, efficient, and friendly. We've been on the RASH Ride every year for 10 years, though I think we might have missed one when Sarah, our daughter, realized that she had to take the ACTs the next morning after babysitting until 10 p.m. the night before.

If you haven't tried it, the RASH Ride is one of the best bike rides in eastern Iowa all summer. Teams Fish, Rawhide Riders, the Subtle Savages, and maybe one other team sponsor the ride plus last, but not least, Bill of Bill's Pizza in Independence. He picked up saggers and managed his restaurant well. His pizza is great. We had the taco pizza.

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