On the RAGBRAI road in Iowa

RAGBRAI isn’t much on politics for the most part, but we’ve got a few news and notes from the Iowa backroads…

Lance Armstrong isn’t just riding the ride, he’s taking on any presidential comers who want to join him. Thus far, only Democrat John Edwards is taking the bait, according to the Des Moines Register.

Edwards will take off with Armstrong and his team of swift cyclists Wednesday morning, and likely will peel off at some point to hang out in towns along the way. We’ll try to catch them before they start out – because this cyclist sure wouldn’t be able to keep up with them!! But I bet my serious babe on a bike, Mary from Florida, will try to make the grade though!

More on the flip…The reality of this ride is that most folks aren’t riding like Armstrong, they’re pedaling casually through the countryside, chatting with friends old and new and stopping at small towns along the way to consume some pancakes, beer, pie, beer, barbecue, beer, ice cream, beer, etc. So the towns are Edwards’ – or any candidate’s – best chance to catch up with the real folk along the way.

Democrat Chris Dodd may stop in on the route, and some of Republican Mitt Romney’s sons are expected to show up at some point as well.

There are a few hints of politics along the way, though. At a bar in Melvin Sunday, one cyclist sported a Sam Brownback jersey. The Register reported Sunday that Brownback seems to be coming on strong with conservatives here, while Romney announced he’s scaling back his Aug. 11 straw poll expectations (and spending), just a day after a sincere solicitation for poll supporters in west central Iowa.

At the beer garden (or as the DJ said – and it’s the truth – “some guy’s backyard”) in Moneta Sunday, a woman from Carroll sported an Obama 2008 shirt. The Democratic senator from Illinois is getting plenty of support in Carroll, including one of the owners of the local newspaper and my almost-17-year-old pal, Kelsey. While Kelsey contends she’s impressed with Obama’s intellect, her mom wonders if she’s trying to tick off her GOP dad. And her younger sister Biz credits the hot looking campaign worker from New Jersey who came to the door.

Then there were the guys in the FairTax jerseys. Apparently they’re gearing up for a rally at the Aug. 11 straw poll in favor of their national retail sales tax idea.

Bear in mind that cycling jerseys cost at least $70 to $80 (this is a lot in my still-Midwestern mind!!) and these guys were fully outfitted. We were too busy drinking beer Sunday (yes, before the last 13 miles of cycling), but we’ll try to catch up with them later today as we head to Humboldt.