If you think of RAGBRAI as merely a weeklong cross-state bike ride, you're missing a big part of the experience. RAGBRAI is also about those delightfully odd little moments that can and do happen long before the first wheel is turned or the first pork chop is grilled.
It may be off the official RAGBRAI message board
by the time that you see this, but the last few days have been full of postings about huge, super-aggressive mosquitos, river rats, Asian beetles and other scary critters in Marengo, one of this year's overnight towns.
The original warnings, colorfully written and a little over the top, first caused horror, then confusion, and then anger among the RAGBRAI message board faithful. Some thought the posts were absolutely on the level. Others thought it was a sinister plot to scare RAGBRAI riders into avoiding Marengo. And still others saw it as the bitter fallout from a recent city council election.
And eventually, in true RAGBRAI fashion, the drama and chaos turned to comedy. Dire warnings about freaky monkeys and flesh-eating goats made their way into the discussion. Marengo became a cross between Mayberry and "The Night of the Living Dead."
I imagine that on nights when the moon is full the flesh-eating goats of Marengo, Iowa mass near the river and bay in unison, "RAAAAAAAAAAG BRAAAAAAAAAIIII! "RAAAAAAAAAAG BRAAAAAAAAAIIII!"
It's a weeklong bike ride, yes, but it's also a lot more.