I spent my day in Carson, Iowa, the halfway point of RAGBRAI's first day. Due to the high level of bicycle traffic on the road at the early hour of 7:00 in the morning, it took me nearly half an hour to drive the ten miles from my home to Carson, where I spent the day selling Mike's Hard Lemonade, Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers to riders from all locations: Nebraska, Iowa, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Verdana, Australia...
I had serious cyclists come in and only inquire as to where the bathroom was located. I had serious drinkers who bought four rounds of screwdrivers, and were still drinking when I left the establishment at 4:30 that afternoon.
I enjoyed the day; not only was I able to make a few dollars (and a few tips), but I was also able to join in on many an interesting conversation. I talked about wine with locals, teaching in South Korea with a group from Illinois, humidity with a guy from Atlanta. One biker held a hand puppet, a demented clown that could have been a rejection from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. The biker deliberately spoke in a high-pitched voice, instructed me about the origins of his hand puppet (a thrift store along the RAGBRAI route last year). He waved the puppet around, pretended to have it nurse from him.
I raised an eyebrow, gazed at the rest of his team, who sat around the table, awaiting my reaction. "I don't care how much liquor you've had, but you're puttin' that thing away." I looked over my glasses as the entire table laughed. "That's goin' down in the quote book!" one of yelled. "We're taking her with us," another chided, pointing at me. I shook my head, poured them another round of orange juice and vodka.
At the end of my day, 4:30, there were still riders in the bar. One had been there for six hours. It was just as hot and humid as it had been in the morning, and I admired each rider--drunk or not--for the stamina he or she had put his or her body through that day ... and Carson was only the halfway point. Teams, enthusiastic for air-conditioning and alcohol, commented on the D-SLR I had slung over my shoulder. "Take a picture of us!" they would shout, raising their glasses to me and passing me a dollar or two. "Find us on Facebook!"
Though I wish I could have spent more time outside (as compared to the back room in which I was cooped up), I was able to take a few pictures in the hot, bright, beating sunshine.
Once, I saw my cousin, who was riding for the day. He asked for ice cubes, already sunburned. At that point in time, I was busy, and I could only escape outside for two minutes at a time. When I was unable to leave the building, I photographed the water cooler. The tip jar. The beverages.
I shot pictures through the shaded window.
Two hours and nearly 50 Screwdrivers later, I was mooned through that window.