First, let me apologize for the tracker not working today. There were technical issues which should now be resolved.
I have talked with several RAGBRAI veterans and they all agree that this is the hottest ride in memory. Temperatures have been in the 90s with heat indices over 100. There have been very few clouds to shade the sun. Lots of riders have been getting dehydrated. If temperatures were 10 degrees cooler this ride would be much more enjoyable. Tomorrow wont be any better, except there is a possibility of rain and storms. I am planning to get on the road by 6 to beat the heat.
So let me tell you about three things: hills, music, and watertowers.
When the details of the route came out I was concerned about the hills. Everything I read claimed that this was a very hilly route. But I had no idea how they compared to what I am used to. Now that I have ridden the hilliest days I can say that, with a very few exceptions, the hills are gentler than what I ride in the Atlanta area. But, there are a lot of them. Getting up the first 10 hills was not difficult, but towards the end of the ride the sheer number of climbs takes its toll. The last few hills are always the hardest.
You can't go long on this ride without hearing music. I regularly come across riders with loudspeakers playing music, some were large enough that they were pulled in a trailer behind the bike and powered with a large battery. I have heard a wide variety of music, rock (everything from Elvis to Evanescence), pop, country, jazz, and even some classical. Some are quite loud, others I didn't hear until I was right behind the rider. It adds some interest to the ride and keeps me moving.
The watertower is the most welcome sight on the RAGBRAI route. After cresting hill after hill when we finally see a watertower in the distance we know we are almost at the next town and about to have a break. It is a very encouraging sight.