|Jacob at graduation last month.|
Back in 2002, I was still working as a car mechanic. I had recently gotten back more into cycling after being on the sidelines for a few years in the late 90's. So, as a result, I was in the bike shop quite a bit getting bits and things for my bicycles. On one occasion, the owner asked me if I might ever be interested in being an on-the-road mechanic for RAGBRAI, as that particular shop was a licensed RAGBRAI bike shop. That, by the way, is something I find a lot of people do not know about, or understand. That you just cannot show up and repair bicycles on RAGBRAI. No, you have to be approved and under contract from RAGBRAI. Anyway....
So, I accepted the offer in 2002 and that led to my being hired at the bike shop later that year. The following year, Mrs. Guitar Ted and I were expecting the birth of a baby boy in early August. My boss wanted me to wrench on RAGBRAI again, and we decided, Mrs. Guitar Ted and I, that I could squeeze that in just before our son was expected on August 8th. So off I went, new cell phone in hand, you know.....just in case, and RAGBRAI 2003 commenced with myself being the overnight stop mechanic.
Well, we were in Oskaloosa, Iowa for the next to last overnight, and as a treat, I was invited to sleep in the RV which generally was reserved for the boss and a few of the office people and spouses. Usually I was sleeping in the rented box van, or underneath it, as I did a couple of really hot nights that year. So it was that at around 5:00am my phone rang. It was Mrs. Guitar Ted. Yep......our son was about to be born!
So, this caused a bit of a ruckus, as you might expect. The shop crew had to roll on to the next town, and so I gathered all my stuff in my duffel bag and was dropped off at the Oskaloosa HyVee grocery store where I set up camp on the bags of water softener pellets stacked outside their front door and started calling for a ride home. Eventually I was able to raise up my sister who lived in Des Moines and she agreed to come and fetch me and get me back to Waterloo. Then it was time to just sit and wait. And wait......and wait!
All the while I am in the dark as to what is happening with my wife and soon to be born son. I don't know if I'll get back in time to be there when he is born, and I am quite the spectacle in that moment. What is this guy doing? Just sitting there on the soft water pellets with a big duffel bag? Ha! At least the chaos of RAGBRAI commerce and activity kept the focus somewhat off me 100%. Then, after what seemed like an eternity to me, my sister pulls up and off we go.
I made it back in time, and I was witness to Jacob's birth. It's been quite the adventure ever since. Now he is eighteen, and they say he is an 'adult' now. Hard to believe it, and yes- it went by so fast. Well, here we are now and Happy Birthday Jacob! May you be blessed with many more markings of your birthday in the years to come!
And as for me, I'll always remember my 'last day on RAGBRAI'!