Reporter's Notebook: Texas bike race 'hotter' in Iraq
September 5, 2006
The 110-plus temperatures afflicting Baghdad these days make most people want to scurry into air-conditioned comfort as fast as possible.
Not Spc. Donald “Rhino” Lobmeyer Jr. The Kansas Army National Guardsman decided instead to take to his bicycle and compete remotely in the Wichita Falls, Texas-based Hotter ’N Hell Hundred bike race on Aug. 26.
The Wichita, Kan., resident spent six hours and 18 minutes riding a whopping 117 miles around Baghdad’s Victory base compound. The high temperature, incidentally, was also 117. During the ride, Lobmeyer downed 12 liters of water, four liters of Gatorade, six bananas, two apples, four energy bars, a few packages of mixed nuts and 16 oz. of pickle juice.
Why the pickle juice?
“I have been told pickle juice helps with cramping due to the sodium [loss],” he explained, via e-mail. “I haven’t got cramps in the legs when I drink it on long rides. It is served chilled at the [ride] in Wichita Falls.”
Just say noOn a recent foray into Baghdad’s International Zone, soldiers from 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment came face to face with an unexpected offer.
While the soldiers waited to pick up a colleague, a band of juvenile street vendors approached, hawking fake designer watches, disposable razors, old Iraqi money and other sundry items.
The surprise came when one soldier asked for a soft drink and the enterprising merchant shot back with an offer of smokeable cocaine, or “crack.”
At that provocation, the soldiers promptly shooed away the boy – who could have been no older than 14 – and his thin, baby-faced, cigarette-smoking friends.
Battalion operations officer Maj. Jesse Pearson said the alleged crack cocaine may in fact have been a homemade form of crystal methamphetamine, which is said to have made inroads on Baghdad’s rough streets.
“We’ve heard reports that they’re boiling down cough syrup to make crystal meth,” he said.
Thank you, ObviousmanIn a country where any number of things can kill you, a large roadside sign at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty features an interesting admonition.
Does it read “Danger, insurgents”? Does it tell you to buckle up, stay in school, avoid drugs, steer clear of camel spiders, or take cover from mortar fire?
No, it reads (although you can barely see it, obscured as it is by the near-daily dust storms): “Caution, Dusty Conditions.”
Just in case you didn’t know.