Bum knee, bummer day at RAGBRAI

Bridget Maxwell

Rolling into a campsite prepared by Rebe was a welcome sight for Heather Burns after a testing 83-mile day at RAGBRAI.

This is the third of a series of blogs by espnW deputy editor and native Iowan Heather Burns, who is doing the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

Sometimes no matter how hard you train, your body lets you down.

That happened to one of our group Monday on RAGBRAI. I am riding this year with my dad, sister Bridget, and her friend Rebe.

Monday was an 83-mile day with hills. We planned to meet in Kimballton, the first town out from the campground, for breakfast. Bridget and I waited at the bottom of the hill into town for Rebe.

She pulled in with a worried look and said she wasn't going to make it. Like any teammate would, I assured her that she would, the hills would end. Rebe then said it wasn't the hills, but her knee.

Rebe, like so many women, blew out her left knee playing high school basketball. She tore her ACL and MCL after making a steal and coming down with the ball as a junior. Rather than getting her knee repaired, which would have meant missing her senior season, Rebe rehabbed and played on it her senior year.

Before the injury she was being recruited to play college ball. Afterward, not so much.

Eventually, in 2003, after many years of inactivity, she had knee surgery. She has since lost 50 pounds and spends her time running and cycling. She trained more than 1,000 miles for RAGBRAI and was more than physically ready for the ride.

But her knee was not having it.

As long as you are a supported rider (signed up with the Des Moines Register and have a pink wristband) you have van service to the next town. After Bridget and I left Kimballton, thinking Rebe would take the van to our next stop, she went back out. She ended up riding another 15 miles before officially giving up for the day.

Rebe took the van in and set up our campsite, which was awesome when we arrived a few hours later. Great to have one less thing worry about.

She plans to ride Tuesday -- a 50-mile ride that is supposed to be flat. And we all hope that her knee responds to the rest it got Monday.

There is nothing more frustrating than working hard and not being able to finish.

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