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RAGBRAI 2012: Riders strategize to beat the heat

  • 21 July, 2012


Isaiah Moes, 7, of Orange City, gets ready to pour lemonade for Jan Swanberg and Ed Forman of San Francisco at his lemonade, water and cookie stand in the front yard of his grandmother’s house in Sioux Center Saturday afternoon as riders converge on the town before the start of the 40th annual RAGBRAI. Swanberg and Forman are out for their seventh RAGBRAI. (Justin Hayworth/The Des Moines Register)

Don’t rush. Rest in the shade. Enjoy some watermelon and ice cream.

And water. Drink a lot of water.

RAGBRAI participants had plenty of advice for staying cool during a week when the high temperatures aren’t expected to dip below 97 along at least the first half of the route.

Organizers and participants said they can recall individual days of previous RAGBRAIs reaching 100 degrees. But they are more concerned about having so many days of extreme heat in a row.

Not too concerned though.

“We’ll find shade, eat ice cream, pie and watermelon,” said Mimi Ozeroff, 54. “We’ll rest in tthe shade, talk to our friends, and think snow.”

Ozeeroff, of Iowa City, has been on three rides, and is planning on riding the whole thing again this week.  She also gave the same advice as other riders and event organizers: drink plenty of water.

And while the afternoons will bring high temperature and sun, overnight and early morning temperature should drop into the more bearable 70s and 80s.

Rick Shaw, 64, knows he can ride 40 miles fairly easily after training all year. So he plans to leave early – hopefully around 5:30 a.m. – and knock those miles out as early as possible.

“Then, there’s no need to hurry to get to the next town,” he said. “With shade, good music and good food, I can take my time.”

Shaw has done 15 rides, and knows the heat will be the hardest element for him to get through. But he’s still confident he can do it.

Event organizers are encouraging riders to be careful along the route.

“It will be a hot week,” said Susan Patterson Plank, vice president of market development at the Des Moines Register. “We encourage everyone to stay hydrated, pace themselves annd not put themselves into a situation where they are not safe.”

The Iowa National Guard will provide water stations along the route and first aid will be available in the towns. An ambulance service will also be along the route in case of emergencies.

And the forecast isn’t certain, Patterson Plank said.

“This is Iowa. The forecast could change,” she said. “That’s part of being prepared.”

Brothers Lowell and Charlie Poesch are doing their first full week of RAGBRAI, though they rode two days last year. Still, they’re ready. And full of jokes as they locked their bikes uup near the expo Saturday night.

“White shiny teeth reflect the sun, so smile a lot,” Lowell Poesch, 54, said.

Also on his agenda: “Drink a dumpload of water.”


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