Well, the training rides were done, the RV was packed, the Lil Egg was hitched, and the bikes were on the racks: it was time to go up to the Pedaler's Jamboree Iowa. Daughter Savannah, Nephew Racin and I headed out at midmorning and got lunch at a Casey's in some small town. We stopped at Bicycle World in West Des Moines to check in and get our registration packets. Savannah got a nice pair of bike shorts, though the padding is so thick she says it's like wearing a diaper. The GPS took us right to the Greene County Fairgrounds, and a man in a golf cart directed us to our campsite. We had to park it parallel rather than backing in to get the RV level. We played frisbee for awhile, and Savannah cooked up some spaghetti for dinner.
We got up the next morning, I brewed the coffee and Savannah cooked up some eggs. We donned our team jerseys, which I had designed well in advance. The pocket has the Coelho family cattle brand, and the back has an image of a running rabbit with the brand on its flank. That image I copied from Savannah's tattoo. We packed everything we would need into the Lil Egg (pet name for my Toyota Echo) and drove an hour to Waukee. The parking lot by Mickey's Irish Pub was packed with bike-laden cars. We got the bikes off the racks, took a selfie for the road, and off we went. This section of the Raccoon River Trail was smooth, flat and recently paved. We hadn't gone far when I saw a red fox run into a bean field. We had gotten a bit of a late start, so we cruised through the first stop, Dallas Center, and pedaled on to Minburn. Both Racin and Savannah had seat problems, but I had brought a set of allen wrenches for just such an occasion. We got their seats adjusted properly and there were no further complaints. We heard a bit of music at Minburn, had a beer and ate all the dried apples I had brought. The area in front of the stage was paved and they were renting out roller skates. One lady skating around was really good. Savannah noticed a guy with a little white schnauzer that resembled our Gretchen. He was named Max, and he was plenty friendly.
There were lots of tandems and a few trailers. I liked the trailer that was home-made from a radio flyer wagon. A lot of people had amplified music on their bikes. The most impressive was a big tube speaker one guy had mounted under his rear rack. It was loud, distortion free, and blasting classic rock. We didn't have any music, so we made our own. Well, Racin and I came up with three verses of a song about the Ped Jam. It's still a work in progress. There were a few people in costume, including a guy in an old motorcycle helmet with horns on the front.
We had lunch in Perry, where the pulled pork sandwiches were delicious. We ran into Mike Denehy, who is the creator of this bike tour. He remembered me from my work on the Big Bam. I think this tour was going a lot better. He thought they had about 1200 registered riders.
It had been relatively cool in the morning, but it got hot in the afternoon. We skipped Dawson and went right on to Cooper after a brief rest. Molly Gene One Whoaman Band was playing. She created a lot of sound with just an electric guitar and a foot pedal drum kit. Very passionate. We watched the Decadent Nation show. They were pretty good, except their lead singer could not hit the high notes. We noticed some other groups that had made their own jerseys. One was "Team Bad Decision Pants". There was an image of a guy peeing, as seen from behind. Then at the bottom of the jersey was a butt crack. Another was "Team Chemical Dependency", with a 3D image of a molecule on the back. I thought it was ethanol at first glance, but the guy said it was lactic acid. I said, "Well, they're both anaerobic end products." Our own Team Coelho jerseys got a few favorable comments.
The last leg of the ride had some interesting bridges, where Racin insisted on doing wheelies on the lips of them. I saw a few monarchs, but not as many as I expected for this time of year. There were lots of flowers in bloom, like morning glories, various sunflowers and black-eyed susans. There were some slight grades, but after a final northward turn, we had some lengthy downhills, in the shade with the wind at our backs. That was a nice break for our fatigued legs.
We got in to Jefferson at about 5. I got into the RV, cranked up the air conditioning, and downed a gatorade. We had time to check out the venue and get some dinner. I had Jamaican jerked chicken sandwich, and it was quite good. Racin had some nachos that looked really good. I took a nap while Savannah took a shower, then we walked over to the concert. I had brought some bag chairs in the RV, and a big lounger for myself. We set them on the green where we were close enough for a good view but far enough away that it was not too loud.
The first band was Dirtfoot, a Louisiana band. They were basically a rock band, except they had one guy on electric banjo, another on stand-up bass, and a trombone player. Most of their songs were upbeat and really catchy, so I bought their CD.
The second artist was That1guy. He's hard to describe, but absolutely unforgettable. He has an instrument of his own creation, the Magic Pipe, which has two necks and sets of strings. He could bow it, pluck it, slap it, or hit it with a drumstick. There were also some pedals built into it. He had some other drum pedals that he could hit with his feet to create the beat. His songs were weird, but very enjoyable. The crowd was eating it up. His CDs sold out during his first song. He did some magic tricks with cards, played with sock puppets, and did an entire song on an electrified boot. His chit chat between, and sometimes during, songs was entertaining as well. If you ever get a chance to see him, don't miss it.
The last band was Euforquestra, which was essentially a vintage soul-funk group, and they were damned good. They had a horn section, a percussionist on timbales and congas, a regular drummer, a keyboardist, a bass and a dynamite electric guitar player. I knew I liked them with their first tune, an upbeat instrumental. We enjoyed their show, but by the time they were done, we were very tired. We heard their encore as we walked back to the RV. I took a shower and slept well.
We got up kind of late. Racin and Savannah were sunburnt. All of us had sore legs and aching behinds. We decided the better part of valor was discretion, so rather than ride the second day of the tour, we would go home. We got a hearty pancake breakfast from the veterans at the fairgrounds. Then we packed up and headed out. We had to put all the bikes inside the RV. We drove the hour back to Waukee. We saw a pheasant fly across the road, which kind of made my day. We picked up the Lil Egg. Savannah helped me hook it up again, and we were headed for home. Racin slept through all of that. It's just as well we didn't ride, as we would have had about a 20-knot headwind the whole way. We had lunch in Oskaloosa. Apparently, farmers in the area are up in arms about the possibility of a new airport, which would take farm land by eminent domain. There are hand-painted signs all along the highway. We got into Canton at about 3, unloaded and parted company.
For Racin and Savannah, the 46 miles we biked was a personal best. For me, it was the fulfillment of a plan I had been cooking up since the Missouri Ped Jam back in May. There were many contingencies to prepare for, and I think I covered them all. Mission accomplished. We're already looking forward to next May and the Missouri Pedaler's Jamboree.