21 June 2012

in which i eat a dime and have a grand adventure {part 2}

This is Part 2 of a story about the time I ate a dime when I was 3. {I love money so much, I eat it!} You might want to read Part 1, if you're one of those "tell me stories chronologically" people.


We were on RAGBRAI: Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. Every July, thousands of people bike from the western edge to the eastern edge—over the rolling hills that Iowa does indeed have, contrary to what many people think.

See? That is a hill—in Iowa, as proven by that field of corn. And in this particular instance, that row of bikers also helps prove that this is Iowa and RAGBRAI; it sure as heck isn't the Tour de France. If it were France, that would be a vineyard and the people would have baguettes attached to their bikes, just in case they got snackish.

RAGBRAI takes a week, and you bike past corn fields {see above}, soy bean fields, wheat fields, and pigs.

Along the way, you go through tiny towns that show off the best of Iowa: hospitality and food. One town—with American flags hanging from every light post and a hand-painted banner strung across Main Street that says "Welcome, Bikers!"—might offer a pancake breakfast.

Another town further down the road might have pork tenderloin sandwiches, that Iowa specialty of breaded goodness.

This is an Iowa specialty because well, it's made of pork. Even people who know nothing about Iowa know that we have lots of pigs. Unless they're confusing us with Idaho and think we have lots of potatoes. I realize that people from the coasts tend to blur on what's in-between, say, Las Vegas and Philadelphia, but I think it should be a high school graduation requirement to know the difference between Iowa and Idaho. This isn't asking much; it's not like asking people to explain why the League of Nations never caught on and how it led to the United Nations. It's just about pork and potatoes. That's all.

The best part of a pork tenderloin sandwich is that it's bigger than your head. Meat bigger than your head! Although in this picture, your head would need to be rather oddly oblong, much like Bert's head from Sesame Street, and I hope you're not a puppet. But I hope that one day you get to eat a pork tenderloin sandwich in Iowa, maybe even on RAGBRAI. When you bike past a pig farm, you can say, "Little piggy, I'm going to eat you later!" if you're the type to talk to your food.

You bike about 70 miles a day on RAGBRAI, and every night you camp in another little town. Those thousands of sweaty, tired, over-fed people take over parks and school grounds and front yards.

I realize this all sounds like an incredible recipe for a party—like a cycling Woodstock but with fewer musical acts and {you would hope} fewer drugs. But keep in mind that no matter how hard you party the night before, you still have to get on a bike the next day. Have you ever tried balancing on two wheels while hungover? I certainly have not, but it sounds impossibly challenging.

Also, sometimes after biking/eating/making adoring noises about the cute towns in Iowa, your body is tired.

Your legs don't bend right.

You never want to see another bike.

You don't think you'll ever be able to sit down again.

That is not the ideal attitude for going to an all-night party—at least I don't think it is. My ideal all-night party involves pink pajama pants and reading historical non-fiction or Jane Austen in bed, so I'm probably not the best judge of who should be partying and when.

Parties aside, RAGBRAI was made for my family:
  1. We like camping.
  2. We like biking.
  3. We like eating pork tenderloins.
  4. We like Iowa and understand that it has hills.

In the early 80s, my parents and my brothers—Patrick and Eric, who are 13 and 14 years older than me {and technically half-brothers, leading me, a confused-in-math child anyway to think I had one whole brother}—went on a biking trip in Colorado. There were mountains involved, as there often are in Colorado, and my parents and the boys went up and over them.

If someone were to publish a collection of stories about my family's vacations, it would be called Every Other Kid You Know Went to Disney World on Vacation and They Were Bored. Now Get on the Bike: And Other Lies I Was Told.

In that book would be a story about Patrick and Eric, stopping with my parents at a gas station in Colorado before heading up a particularly daunting hill, the kind that might be called a "Rocky" and that would make Rocky himself cry.

A woman looked at them, their spindly teenage legs, their helmets that looked to be left over from World War 2, their bikes that were heavier than they were, and said: "You're going to make those boys go over that hill on those bikes?"

And my father, who would probably contest the fact that he lied to us about our vacations, said, "You better believe it! Let's go, boys!"

You can see why RAGBRAI was made for us. Or made for my father, who brought the rest of us along and said that we'd have fun.


I know what you're thinking: THERE ARE NO DIMES IN THIS SECTION. Why aren't you eating more money? I mean, I love this thing about biking across Iowa and your crazy and demanding family vacations, but get back to the dime.

Coming up next: I get back to the dime.


  1. Hey, you haven't finished this story yet! I mean, I know how it ends, but it's still entertaining :)

  2. I'm with Oesa, it's still entertaining! Also, I think I learn something new every time. I finally figured out why you get so excited when you see pork tenderloin on a menu, that is breaded and probably fried. Now I get it!:)

  3. Okay, okay! The end is coming soon! You can't rush the writing process, you know (but I do have a deadline for class to meet)!



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