The perils of spandex, bladders on RAGBRAI

A line of portable toilets awaits a crowd of RAGBRAI riders. Timothy Meinch/The Register

A line of portable toilets awaits a crowd of RAGBRAI riders. Timothy Meinch/The Register

Spandex, full bladders and portable toilets.

The combo gets a wee-bit complicated when multiplied by the thousands along the RAGBRAI trail.

Some riders avoid the situation altogether by embracing the endless walls of cornstalks.

Other veterans devise strategies, crafted and mastered through years of perilous porta-potty visits.

We stopped more than a dozen of them early in the day in Vinton, the Thursday meetup town, to gain some insight on potty adventures and tactics.

“Nature is one big, great bathroom,” Brad Maxwell, of Doylestown, Penn. said.

The second year rider confessed, with a hint of shame, that he’s yet to relieve himself in a cornfield during RAGBRAI. But it’s on his bucket list.

“I need to just for the experience,” Maxwell said.

By contrast, seven-year veteran Jason Alexander avoids portable toilets at all costs.

“I never use a porta-potty ever,” said Alexander, 38, of Syracuse, NY.

One female rider, Nicole Wood, of Alburnett, said just about any out-of-sight space will do when nature calls.

“You find a bush, or a tree or anything you can hide behind and just go,” 32-year-old Wood said.

The plight of the portable toilets is the smell and messy floors, which worsen throughout the day, riders said.

“Hold your breath and push hard,”

said John Breckenfelder, of St. Charles, Ill.

Tina Liebetrau, of Janesville, Wis., said she mastered “the shorts dance,” adjusting her spandex outside the porta-potty. That’s key to avoiding dropping her phone in the toilet.

The best way to evade the pangs of the toilets is beat the rising sun and the mass core of pedalers.

At 9:30 a.m. in Vinton, for example, the inners of one porta-potty appeared untouched.

“I pulled in here, they were clean and had plenty of stalls,” Jeff Fisher, of Dallas, said in Vinton. “It was a good experience.”

The meetup town also offered a hand washing station, which is a coveted bonus for many who avoid relieving themselves in nature.

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