Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Porta potty nation

I got to wondering (but not for long) while walking around the square a while ago about how many hog confinement outfits it would take to produce the waste generated by 16,000 or so RAGBRAI participants. It had something to do with the ranks of porta pottys surrounding the courhouse, obviously I should be thinking more elevating thoughts about The Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa and so I've put that train of thought to rest.

Tomorrow's the big day and city workers had the east, west and north sides of the square blocked off practically before dawn. It's a fairly short trip down from tonight's overnight stop, Indianola, so I expect people will start rolling into town early. By this time tomorrow it will be difficult to get anywhere in town if you're not on foot or on a bicycle. Don't even think of trying to get out of town to the west and north Wednesday or to the south and east Thursday.

RAGBRAI's a lot of fun for the participants and for many in the communities it passes through, too. So more power to it. It also gives civic organizations and others a chance to separate riders from a considerable amount of cash by selling food, cold drinks and other stuff along the route. Many a worthy cause has been aided.

I could live without it, but that's just me --- way too many people way too close together in way too much of a hurry. I used to be able to ride a bike, but grew up on back roads not condusive to extensive travel on two wheels, skinny wheels at that since English bikes were in vogue when I first climbed aboard. Now I'd probably just break my neck. Besides I like walking better.

I emphasize with bikers, however, really --- bicycles offer "green" transportation and healthy exercise. Bicyclical fundamentalists, however, get on my nerves. A group up in Mason City holds an annual memorial service for Iowa bikers killed on the road during the preceding year --- and built into that service is the implication that those of us who transport ourselves on four wheels much of the time are an uncaring murderous lot. Not the case I think.

Couple of years ago, RAGBRAI wore out its welcome in one southwest Iowa county after a RAGBRAI rider hit a crack in a county road the wrong way, went flying off and managed to kill himself. Family sued alleging the road was "unsafe for bicycles," county settled out of court to avoid the expense of a lawsuit and no one was happy. RAGBRAI hasn't been allowed back since. Sure too bad the guy was killed, but not too surprising. Happens at least once on RAGBRAI almost every year.

I hope everyone makes it into and out of Lucas County this week alive and well and has a heck of a good time. Me, I'm running for cover.


Ed Abbey said...

As a three time veteran Ragbrai rider, I loved the event. It was the one week of the year when I could eat as much as I want and not gain an ounce. It also helped that there was a bounty of food along the route and always a church in the overnight town serving an all you can eat pasta dinner for a paltry sum. I didn't care for the late night party scene though and generally always found a host family to let me pitch my tent in their lawn away from it all.

This year I get a double dose as they are overnighting 25 miles to the west and 25 miles to the east. I'm not planning on going anywhere during those two days.

Frank D. Myers said...

Yup, you're kind of hemmed in down thataway. Personally, I have improved my attitude considerably, am looking forward to the great arrival and am on my way to St. Andrew's to make coffee, put out the cookies and wait for wandering Episcopalians --- providing I can get there from here.

Porta Potty Lucas County Iowa said...

I just love the event... pasta dinners... yummmm.