Alden, Ia. — I’ve trudged through construction before on this bicycle trek at the height of summer “road closed” season.
But Tuesday’s two-wheeled-turned-two-legged logjam just west of Alden may have set a new standard for a RAGBRAI snarl. A pair of bridge repairs in quick succession, with nothing but gravel to tread, slowed the line of bikers to a halting crawl by midday.
The second bridge site was worse, requiring riders to snake down and through a gravel track with blaze-orange safety fence on either side.
Per the standard RAGBRAI mentality, the sweaty mass kept its cool — mostly.
Some impatient souls did elect to detour into a soybean field and then ford the algae-infested creek.
This soon became a popular option. Some riders who walked up to the edge of the creek suddenly thought twice and tried to get back in line — but were so thoroughly booed and shamed by the main crowd that they slumped their shoulders, turned around and forded the creek after all.
Brady De Vries from Des Moines, 28, one of the nine members of Team Nederland Mafia, chose to cross the creek, hoisting his heavy bike (complete with a fat bazooka speaker mounted behind the seat) overhead.
“It weighs a lot,” he reported after he and his buddy had squished their way through about four inches of mud and water and then navigated a soybean field to rejoin the throng.
The Nederland Mafia will have a colorful story around the campfire tonight.
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