As my son and I rode across River Drive, away from the tire dip, an officer reminded us that the rules of the road are still in place. I looked up the hill and did not see hundreds or thousands of bicycles in front of me. I did not see State Troopers blasting music while blocking the road so I could safely proceed.
Two blocks later the bikes were loaded onto the rack, and I was behind the wheel. As we drove toward I-80 my week started to come into focus. Sure, we went on a bike ride as a family. We climbed some big hills. We rode a really long way. These are the things I expected. But there was something else. It was dawning on me that I would no longer pedal into town four or five times a day with people in the street welcoming me. I would not see the food vendors, and the local churches and clubs preparing me lunch or dinner. I would no longer be able to pull over and talk to people along the way. The police would no longer play music and block traffic for me. Those same police would not be thanked hundreds of times per day.
All of the above was true, but that was not really what was, well, bothering me. As I drove away I realized that a community, a kind of town without a permanent location, had just inauspiciously ceased to exist. We had our own police, our own emergency medical services, our own history and traditions. We even had our own fashion and language of sorts. We had thousands of citizens. We did not all know each other, but after a week I got used to seeing the same people going about their business each day. (It is strange how in that huge group you keep seeing the same people over and over)
It was a “funny” thing how as we each drove away from the Mississippi, the community disappeared. It did not die. It was not destroyed. No natural disaster or economic downturn befell it. Our little community just evaporated as we all drove home.
Another funny thing happened. Up until that moment RAGBRAI 2018 was supposed to be a once in a lifetime experience. Now, I have to wonder what will happen next January when I see that the route has been set.