A friend once observed that bikers are among the friendliest folks she's met, and so far I'd agree with her assessment.
To underscore that point, on the day I head off for RAGBRAI, I wanted to thank a few people who have been huge helps while I trained and packed for my culinary tour.
David, a now-former co-worker, surprised me last Thursday with the offer to lend me a few cycling jerseys. They're size small, so they do actually fit me reasonably well. Looks like I might finally defeat my farmers tan!
Jeniece — a friend, bike companion and co-worker at each of my post-college jobs — rustled up a cheap water bottle to put in my extra water-bottle cage (as did Ken, another friend and two-time co-worker).
She also saved my backpack-losing butt by lending me a bag that could hold my goods AND still fit on my back.
Cory, my bike doctor, provided the extra bike pouch and water-bottle cage, a bike tune-up (for the price of baked goods, even), road beers, and past and future sunscreen use.
He also instructed me on how to fix a flat and was among those assuring us bike n00bs that he could fix us up if we have mishaps on the road.
Oh, and he also coordinated a huge email chain to figure out transportation among a group of probably 10 people living in several different cities and doing varying portions of RAGBRAI. Which leads me to ...
Joe, Michelle and Mike became my carpool buddies. In exchange for me getting Joe and Michelle to Perry, Mike is getting me (and the others) from Fort Madison to Des Moines. I'd only previously met Joe, and then it was only once, which makes the help from the group that much more awesome.
Ashlee, my fellow Bulldog, volunteered to drive me to Water Works Park early Wednesday, the day after she herself got up early to kick off the carpool to Perry so she and another friend could do Tuesday's ride.
Bonus points for doing it when she'd taken the morning off work specifically to recover from RAGBRAI. I feel guilty about this, but not so guilty that I will refuse the offer.
Ken's taking care of my cat while I'm gone. That's a short sentence, but if you know me at all, you know that's a HUGE load off my mind. He and a friend also were willing to fetch my car if I drove myself to the start and bring it back to safety.
He's not even a biker, though he does support vacations that offer fine dining and parties.
Emily and Regina, besides being relative n00bs like me (comforting, given the number of veterans I'm going with, are willing to share some of the amenities they're getting for covering RAGBRAI for the Register.
Zach talked so favorably about his 2012 experience and so enthusiastically about this year that I drank the Kool-Aid. He also shared a great deal of his crew from last year, fun and knowledgeable folks like Cory, Derek, Chris and Matt.
Perhaps most importantly, he advised me on what tools/gear to buy, and that advice was: not very much. Sure thing, bike veteran!
And finally, I just want to say that if my family members think this is a very foolish idea, they've done an excellent job of disguising it under excitement for me. God knows I don't need more fodder for worrying.
I'll report back on my sunburns, my favorite foods and potentially my weight gain in a few days!