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RAGBRAI 2015: Fort Dodge

Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake
I made it to Fort Dodge and the mobile networks seem to be coping with traffic so far, so I'll add more to this post. Last night in Storm Lake I awoke to rain at about 2 am. I knew it was raining because I had purposely left my rain fly half-on and it didn't take much to secure it to keep me dry. I woke up around 5:30 to the sound of other people breaking down their tents, and I (slowly) followed suit, eventually rolling out of town at 7:15. Bathrooms, bottle filling, bag loading, etc. can all take a while with so many people doing it at once.

Storm Lake
I've quickly learned that while I might not be fast to get up, I'm decently fast on my bike. With about 3000 training miles in Colorado, I can keep a pretty fast pace without getting winded. I rode the first two hours today in the rain, which finally let up around the time I got to Manson.

Brunch in Manson
Some people come to RAGBRAI for the ride, some come for the party. Most balance the two, but I'm one of those who's here for the ride. I stop now and then to fill up with water or get something to eat, but I try to get back on the road quickly. Today I got water in Fonda (my 6th/7th grade math teacher's hometown), a sandwich from the Scouts in Manson, and my first slice of rhubarb pie at this great stand in Clare, the last big stop before Ft. Dodge.

Clare was a great last stop before Ft. Dodge
I got to Ft. Dodge just before noon, just in time to snag one of the camping spots with afternoon shade. If there's any reason to ride early, ride fast, or both, it's camping in the shade. I'm just south of Fort Dodge Senior High, the school where I did my 2-month high school student teaching placement. The middle school I worked at for 2 more months is just down the street.

A beautiful day in a shady spot in Fort Dodge.
A guy I talked to after arriving said that by the looks of downtown, Fort Dodge felt like a town with it's best years behind it. Maybe hes right. To me this is a mining town, where gypsum mining operations have fed the local economy for years. Like a lot of mining towns, there's something about this place that just feels a little tougher, a little harder, even if it's not prettier.

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