Life on the Summit: Hey, Spike! speaks with spokespeople Bobs
Those “Two Biking Bobs,” having completed their altitude training rides on The Summit, are heading back home to Michigan, where they’ll continue mileage routines in preparation for RAGBRAI.
Many Summit cyclists know the event even if they’ve never ridden it.
RAGBRAI stands for the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, a non-competitive bicycle ride going west-to-east across the Midwest state.
This year marks the 42nd annual ride, which was started by Register newspaper columnists John Karras and Don Kaul — both still kicking. John lived over in Summit Cove for many years after retirement, but he and wife Ann returned to the lowlands a while back.
As for our intrepid bikers, Bob “Lucky Bob” Sailor and Robert Allen “Lance” Blyth, riding the weeklong challenge, which covers just shy of 500 miles, will mark their 15th and 32nd times, respectively. Entrants are limited at 8,500, about four times the number of participants in the Denver Post’s Ride the Rockies.
RAGBRAI XLII, slated for July 20-26, begins at Rock Valley and overnights at Okoboji, Emmetsburg, Forest City, Mason City, Waverly and Independence, before ending at Guttenberg.
Both Bobs are retired from the power generation business at the Cook Nuclear Plant on Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline.
Sixty-three-year-old “Lucky Bob,” a fairly new nickname following a death-defying major stroke five years back, was in the training side after serving aboard nuke-powered submarines. “Lance Bob,” at age 67, was in nuclear operations.
Bob No. 1 lives in Berrien Center, about 10 miles east of Bob No. 2, who calls Bridgman home. The communities are in southwest Michigan.
Joining them at their “training center” at Bear’s Den in Frisco was Bob Sailor’s wife, Jenny. This time they rented Leadville Family Practice physician Dr. Lisa Zwerdlinger’s place.
“I’ve been cycling semi-seriously since my first RAGBRAI in 1989,” says Lucky Bob. “I ride a titanium (Lynskey frame), semi-touring bike that I built up myself with Shimano components.”
“I usually ride between 3,000-4,000 miles per year,” he notes. “I rode about 350 miles during our visit this time.”
Lucky Bob gets out to Colorado several times a year because of family ties.
“My daughter, Rebecca Sailor, lives in Evans, and is an English professor at Aims Community College,” he notes. “My only two grandchildren, Jack, 7, and Adele, 5, are first- and second-graders.”
Of riding around and over The Summit’s ups and downs, Lucky Bob says, “Colorado is where you can pack up your tent in the morning in Leadville with frost on it and ride to Kremmling and put it back up in 90 degree heat.”
The altitude training, both Bobs admit, gives then an edge in the RAGBRAI’s, but that “only lasts about three days.”
This RAGBRAI will be Lucky Bob’s first since that heart attack.
Lance Bob has been a cyclist for “at least 35 years, and averages about 4,000 miles annually.”
He has a quiver of two-wheel steeds: “I have a new Trek Domane 6.2 with electric shifting. I also have an older Trek, and an even older Cannondale touring bike. I also have a bike Friday.”
“I got 4,000 miles in last year and expect the same this year,” the smaller of the Two Biking Bobs says. “I rode 402 miles this trip, including both sides of Vail Pass and Loveland Pass.”
Not making the Colorado training this summer was Frank Pisarsky.
“At 72, Frank isn’t along with us this year, but still continues be the best climber and flats rider in our group,” Lucky Bob relates. “He’d have been here this visit, but he was working on his winter home in Florida.”
As bikers tend to do when riding frequently in groups, they come up with self-degrading names — and nicknames.
Our Two Bobs belong to “The Whiners,” a regular RAGBRAI club for about 35 years.
“It originally consisted of cyclists from southwestern Michigan, but now includes riders from all over the U.S., and even Australia in most years,” Lucky Bob says. “The original name was ‘Pissers and Moaners,’ later cleaned up to the ‘P&M-ers,’ then cleansed completely to ‘The Whiners’ in 1986. We borrowed the ‘Fork More Pork’ slogan from the Iowa Pork Producers found on a restaurant place mat.”
The group has been awarded the Des Moines Register’s “Rider Trophy” a couple times recently for being a generally safe and courteous club on RAGBRAI. Last year, the Iowa State Museum in Des Moines created an exhibit and requested a “Whiner” jersey (along with a couple other team jerseys) to hang there, the Two Biking Bobs point out.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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