When I made my RAGBRAI announcement, I mentioned how many fears were swirling around my head.
Now that I've been biking for a couple of weeks, I wish I could say I'd put them to rest. However, it turns out that training simply changes the topic of my worries.
First, before I even signed up, there were the logistics questions, namely where I'd be staying and how I'd get back.
The former was put at ease by the friends who have a guaranteed hotel room — and therefore room on the floor — for me; the latter, somewhat eased (though not settled) by the same friends' breezy assurances that whoever's taking them home can take me, too.
Then came the fitness fears. I read the training suggestions on the RAGBRAI website and did the math on how far short I would fall. Hastily, I canceled one of my running days each week — I was still preparing for the half marathon then — and in response, Iowa canceled its springlike weather.
So once the race and my rest week were both over, I hit the bike with a vengeance. One Sunday, I did 52 miles with only water to sustain me; the following day, I logged 30 miles and did more than "just survive"; and a few days later, I went for what I found myself calling "only a 20-miler."
It was then that I realized my legs and seat region will be just fine for four consecutive days of riding. But you know what might not be? My skin.
I attributed my first sunburn to the foolishness of allowing a winter-pale Midwesterner to sit on El Bait Shop's patio for half an hour midride.
The next sunburn I got from biking — not my next sunburn, period, but the next bike-related one — was a bit of a puzzle. Sure, I'd been outside for hours with no sunscreen, but I was tilted forward on an overcast day ... must've been windburn, right?
Then came the "tramp stamp" sunburn, at which point I began panicking about how to ward off blistering during four whole days in the late July sun.
Sure, my skin will have had time to adjust by then, but I'll still need sunscreen ... and I'll still need to reapply throughout the day ... and I'll still need to figure out where to store it in a place where it won't melt.
I might just have to be the equivalent of the kid whose mom makes him/her wear a T-shirt to the pool over his/her swimsuits (yes, that was me) — maybe I'll just wear a burqa.