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"car free adventure"
self designed & self supported bicycle tour adventures


 Regents Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI)


   Bicycling Across Iowa   

__________ car free adventure __________   



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getting to the start in Rock Rapids

Day 1-ride to Spenser

Day 2-ride to Humboldt

Day 3-ride to Hampton

Day 4-ride to Cedar Falls

Day 5-ride to Independance

Day 6-ride to Dryersville

Day 7-ride to Bellevue

 assembly..a Charter Service transported our bike boxes across Iowa along with our luggage which supported our overnight stays in homes in the destination towns...

  ...most of the cyclist slept in tents at campgrounds in the destination towns...

  ...we stayed as invited quests at people's homes in the destination towns....





What is RAGBRAI?  RAGBRAI is a unique experience.  Four hundred and seventy five miles of real estate and its inhabitants dedicated to the enjoyment of 26,000 bicyclists.  The participants came from every state in the union and many foreign countries were represented.  The people of Iowa demonstrated a warm hospitality that is difficult to duplicate in much of America


I heard about "RAGBRAI" at dinner with friends one night.  I was not impressed.  But we were in the process riding our version of RAAM (Ride Across America.)  We named our "ride," the "Ride Across America One State at a Time in No Particular Order or Direction" (RAAOSTNPOD).  I thought why not add RAGBRAI to our state rides? 


I went to the website and discovered "no more riders would be accepted this year!"  What!  I had assumed this was a group of 150 cyclists.  I was now really interested. 


I searched online for experienced RAGBRAI cyclists.  I learned a lottery determined who got to ride.  I was told that I would have better luck getting to ride if I found a RAGBRAI Charter Service to "work the details."  We took the advice and got in. 


FEDEX transported our bikes to the Charter Service.  We flew to Omaha and were bused by the Charter Service to Rapid City the start of the ride.  A farmer called us the  night before we left LA and asked if we wanted to stay at his home near Rapid City.  We now had places to stay at people's homes in all of the destination towns.


It was a unique experience to stay in private homes in the destination towns along the route and meet the people of Iowa.  We had again been alerted to the possibility on the web.  We communed with the varied cyclist during the day and experienced the heartland of America in the evening.  The following note left on the front door by our hostess for the evening captures the Iowa hospitality;


Welcome – your home for the night is the camper in the back yard. Men’s shower in the basement, woman’s upstairs, towels in the camper.  Come on in and sit were it is cool, make yourselves at home.  Water in cooler in the garage, diet and regular coke, if you’d like in the refrigerator.  We had to leave as I have a band concert at 4:30 P.M. We’ll see you later.


Corn fields ran as far as the eye could see in both directions along the road and to the horizon with soybean fields and farm buildings tucked in occasionally.  Huge machines were in evidence to harvest, maintain and plant the crops.  In contrast, Amish farmers used pitch forks to load hay onto horse drawn wagons.  All along the route farm families sat by the road waving and encouraging the riders as they passed.  


An in-your-face wind was present along the route but was not a factor.  The rolling hills along the route were a manageable 4% or below.  The temperature was a mild 85 to 90 degrees with low humidity.  It rained hard one night with lighting and wind but nothing during the day.  God is a cyclist!


The riders organized themselves along the road with the slower riders along the left,  the faster riders in the center, leaving the left lane to the Lance Armstrong want-to-be’s who passed in pace lines of 10 to 50 riders.  I saw Armstrong and his pace line once, briefly as they sped by.  I began each day by passing an 85 year old woman who was cranking out the miles.  Once I was “passed” by a 5 year old pedaling backwards with his dad on a tandem.   


I was surprised by the discipline of the riders.  No one moved until they checked the position of their fellow riders.  When approaching from behind verbal warnings were given indicating the path a cyclist planned to use.  I witnessed one crash in 7 days as a result of a chain coming off and locking the wheel before the rider could click out.  I passed a few other mishaps along the road but all were minor.  Amazing for a field of 26,000 riders.    


Dress ranged from no-shirt to a beaded shirt and a tutu for riding pants!  One shirt read “on your left Lance.” There were Trek, Specialized, Bianchi, Cannonade, Colnago, and many old Schwinns.  There was an incumbent that was covered to look like a banana, and another had a sail.  There were two unicyclists, and a guy on roller blades.  There were many bicycles built to carry multiple riders, one had a family of five.


Nutrition along the road ranged from power bars to Bloody Mary’s.  Serious eater’s could select Mr. Pork Chop ala carte in a napkin, steamed corn dipped in butter,  Beekman’s home made ice cream (a personal favorite), Turkey Tom’s turkey legs if you could carry one, or a breakfast burrito from Farm Boys filled with scrambled eggs, chopped sausage, potatoes and a little tomato sauce to make it legal.  At night the churches served a spaghetti dinner with homemade pie.  The town fire departments served all you could eat pancake breakfasts.  I pigged out on free water melon provided by a church group. 


The pass through and destination towns were decorated and dedicated to being bike friendly.  Free bike repair shops, free internet and phone access and entertainment were available.  A variety of food and drink were for sale.  Dyersville laid carpet across the railroad tracks for the cyclist.  Eagle Grove was Disneyland.  A personal favorite was the “yea Los Angeles” we received from an enthusiastic group of young people aged 5 to junior high wearing orange head wraps in Denver, Iowa, “the Mile Wide City.”


This was the most entertaining and fun bicycle ride on our trek across America.'s choice of a riding outfit is important on RAGBRAI....



Ride Across Iowa - Getting to the start of RAGBRAI - Rock Rapids


...waiting to board the charter in Omaha for the trip to Rock Rapids...

...using the "boredom abatement kit"on the bus taking us to the start of RAGBRAI in Rock Rapids...

..the support van crew laid out the bike boxes so we could build them for the start of the RAGBRAI tomarrow.. 

..relaxing in the luxury of the "camper" on the farm...

Plan for the day - The plan for the day is to get to Rock Rapids, Iowa and prepare to begin the ride across the State of Iowa tomorrow.  Our charter service will provide a bus to take us to Rock Rapids.  We will take our luggage which contains our "regular clothes" as well as our bike clothes and some of our bike gear.  


Our bike boxes which contain our bikes will be transported to the campground in Rock Rapids where the "tent people" will set up their temporary home for the evening in one of the two trucks provided by the charter service.  One of the trucks will transport our luggage and bike gear each day the "next" destination town as we make our way across Iowa.  Our bike boxes will be stored in one of the trucks for use at the end of the Iowa adventure. 


The night before in Omaha we discovered that there would be 3 buses to Rock Rapids.  They were staggered and left at different times to accommodate those who arrived late.  We telephoned the director of our charter and asked if we could be on the first bus to Rock Rapids.  He confirmed we were on the first bus.  Our goal was not to be building bikes late in the afternoon or after dark because we had some business to attend to in Rock Rapids.  We had to locate our hosts for the evening.


The plan once we reached Rock Rapids was to build our bicycles, put our overnight clothes into a backpack and ride to the Catholic Church where we would meet our hosts for the evening.  We planned to eat the spaghetti dinner at the church and then return to the campground to wait for our host who would be supporting the food service at the church until they closed.


Getting started - We got up, dressed, packed our suitcases and went down to breakfast at the hotel.  After breakfast we hauled our luggage out of our room to the parking lot where the "first" bus was parked and waited along with the other passengers to board.  The bus was scheduled to leave at 8 AM but headed for Rock Rapids about 8:30 AM.  The second bus was there also and scheduled to leave at 9 AM.  The third was to leave at 10 AM but the charter folks told us two guys were flying in at 1 PM and the bus would wait.  We had avoided the late departure.  


Today’s adventure - The bus the charter service provided was a large, comfortable touring bus.  The ride was smooth.  The seats on the bus were comfortable with sufficient leg room.   We spent our bus time reading and listening to music via an IPOD.  The group was asked if they wanted to stop for lunch but opted not to stop so we could get to Rock Rapids as soon as possible.  It took 3 and a half hours to get to Rock Rapids on the bus.


When our bus arrived at the camp ground there were two panel trucks parked with a ramp leading down to the ground.  The trucks would be used to transport our luggage and bike boxes across Iowa.   One truck would carry the portable showers and associated equipment, a cooler which supplied the campers at a price with beer, coke, energy drinks, and bottled water.  The bike boxes and any other luggage that would not be used during the trip was stored after the bikes were removed on this truck. 


The second truck was used to transport the luggage, tents and sleeping bags from the over night camp sites to the next destination-town each day of the ride.  This was the truck we would return to each morning before starting the day's ride to return our overnight wear to our luggage.  If required, someone who could not ride their bicycle on a particular day could hitch a ride in one of the trucks.  


The driver opened the bus luggage compartment and placed the contents beside the bus.  The passengers collected there luggage and scattered it about in the campground area where they planned to assemble their tents which they had retrived from the truck.  We located our bike boxes and pulled them to an area at the edge of the campground near the truck and assembled our bicycles.  With our bikes assembled we had transportation into Rock Rapids. 


We rode our bicycles into town and followed the signs posted along the street to the Catholic Church.  We had been informed via email that the people we were staying the night with would be at the church.  We asked the people collecting money for the food if they knew our hosts.  Rock Rapids was not a large town and "of course" they knew them.  Someone left to notify them that we were there and they came to meet us as we stood in the food line.  They were responsible for the food service on the patio so could not talk long.  We told them where the campground was located and they said they would pick us up around 8:30 PM.  We ate our dinner and returned by bicycle to the camp ground, collected our clothes for the night and waited.            


Bicycling notes - When we returned to the campground to wait for our hosts to pick us up we simply chained our bikes to a tree near the support trucks at the campground.  The farmer who owned the property where we would spend the night had graciously offered to take us back to the campground in the early morning.  We planned to drop off our night clothes at the van and start our ride across Iowa from there.  


We had kept our chartered van service after we had successfully secured a place to stay in all of the destinations towns along our route.  The charter accepted our FEDEXed bike boxes before we headed for Omaha.  They carried the bike boxes (with bikes) to Rapid City to start our RAGBRAI quest plus they transported the empty boxes to the Illinois border for us.  They carried our luggage and transported us in the charter bus from Omaha to Rock Rapids.  They also carried our luggage for us from destination town to destination town.  The only draw back was that we had to be at the campground at 7 AM each morning to drop off our "night" clothes.  Otherwise we would have to carry our clothes with us during the day on the bike!


Once we had been notified that RAGBRAI had found us a home in the destination towns along the route we developed the plan to transport our over night clothing to the "home" in a backpack.  We would locate the trucks in the campground when we arrived at the destination- town.  The luggage was laid out near the truck by crew each day.  The backpack would contain the riding clothes selected for the next day plus something to wear after we took a shower, something to sleep in and a basic toilet kit.  After packing the backpack we would place our luggage back into the truck for safe keeping during the night.  This strategy worked out very well.


We had learned during practicing taking the "subway/busway/light rail" in Los Angeles to always carry what we call the "boredom abatement kit."  The "boredom abatement kit" consists of cross word puzzles, books, newspapers, magazines, writing materials, IPOD, noise cancelling ear phones, etc., etc., etc.  Snacks are also carried.  When waiting for a plane, a bus, the subway or on a plane, a bus or a subway it is important to have something to relax with.  I don't leave home without it.  


Today’s landscape - We spent the night at the invitation of a farmer and his wife on their farm 4 miles north of Rock Rapids.  They owned a huge farm. When we were driving from the campground to there home he pointed out where his property began when we passed it.  The distance from the campground was estimated to be 3 miles and the farm started about mile 2.  He said that he had inherited his fathers farm which added to the acreage.  He told me that they operated a side business which was a fleet of trucks which transported his own plus other farmer's crops to market. 


I grew up on a farm and I discussed farming with our host as we drove to his farm.  The corn on his farm or in Iowa was not planted in well defined rows, several feet apart as it had been on the farm I grew up on.  The corn appeared to be sown the stalks were growing so close together.  But thinking about it we lost a lot of "land" with our wide rows.  The Iowa approach produced a significant amount of extra corn.  The soybeans appeared to be planted in rows very close together rather than sown.  The soybeans were planted in the same way as hay crop was planted on the farm I grew up on and the ground was completely covered with plants as the crop matured.  


There were very long hog houses on many of the farms.  By guess would be that the hog houses were 300 feet long.  They had roofs to shelter the inhabitants.  They had the appropriate smell.  I only saw a few cows and horses but we may have been in the wrong area of the State. 


Post ride activity - The farmer and his wife picked us up at about 9 PM and we headed for their farm.  They had attended mass at the Catholic Church after they had finished helping with the dinner served at the church.  We drove to their farm which was three miles outside of Rock Rapids.  


When we arrived they took us to their camper and showed us around.  The camper was huge with living room, full kitchen, bathroom and TV.  It was much nicer than many of the hotel accommodations we had stayed in on other bike rides in the US and Europe.


A family in an RV was staying at the farm.  The RV was hooked up to an RV “hookup” provided at the farm.  I suppose the hook up for the extra camper was used for company that dropped by.  There were at least 6 tents in the yard occupied by people who acted like relatives or at least very good friends.  The visitors or campers enjoyed themselves.  Drinking must be what campers do to relieve the stress of camping. 


I was worn out.  The first day anxiety of getting up and meeting the bus, putting the bikes together, locating our hosts, etc. makes it difficult to sleep and wears on the physic.  We are veterans of "the first day on the road" process, however, and there is no way to reduce the pressure.  But we know that after the first day of riding we relax, forget about the outside world and just enjoy.  


We showered and watched TV. We had a early start tomorrow, 7 AM at the van so we went to bed.  Tomorrow we start RAGBRAI!



DAY 1 -  July 22 - Ride Across Iowa - Rock Rapids to Spencer


..Iowa farmer who saved us by allowing us to use his luxury camper near Rock Rapids the first night....

.,,dipping the bike rear tire in the Iowa River at the start of our RAGBRAI trek across Iowa to the Mississippi River... 

,,,our first pass through town experience...

...breakfast after riding 15 miles to the first pass through town of the day's ride..

plan for the day -  We would begin our ride from the Iowa River on the west side of Rock Rapids.  The Iowa border was a tad west of the river and tradition required that the back tire of the bike must be dipped in the Iowa River to start the Ride Across Iowa and the front tire in the Mississippi River to conclude the ride.  Our day would start by us locating the Iowa River, dipping our rear tires and then stting off on a 75 mile ride to Spenser, Iowa our destination town for day 1 of RAGBRAI. 


Today's route, Sunday July 22, is Rock Rapids to Spenser a distance of 77 miles.  The pass-through towns along the route are; George, Ashton, Melvin, Hartley and Moneta. 


We had been told the day before by our "Van Transport Support Folks" that we were to drop our luggage off at the van no later than 7 AM each morning.  They would be leaving for the day's destination town shortly there after.  So our first task of the day would be to return to the camp ground where I van was aprked.  We would return our night clothes to our luggage and place the luggage in the truck.  We would then get on our bkes and find the Iowa River.  From there we would locate the route to start the first leg of our RAGBRAI adventure.  


At the end of the day's ride, on the way into Spenser we would execute "our RAGBRAI end of the ride day routine" for the first time.  That is; we look for the sign along the road as we enter Spenser that provides directions to the spaghetti dinner at Catholic Church.  We would locate the Information Tent and find out the campground where our support truck is located.  We would ride to the campground where the crew has placed our luggage outside the truck for pickup.  We pull our overnight clothes and riding outfit for the next day out of our luggage and put them into a backpack, return our luggage into the truck and ride our bikes to dinner at the Catholic Church.  After dinner we ride to the home in Spenser where we will spend the night.  Instructions to where we would spend the night had lo been provided a the information tent.


getting start - We had spent the night at the invitation of a farmer and his wife on their farm 4 miles north of  Rock Rapids in a spacious and comfortable camper.  We got up and put on our bike clothes for the day's ride.  


We had brought every bike shirt we had collected from other bike adventures that had some meaning.  We both had one of the shirts so we looked like the Seniors On Bikes couple.  We did not wear these shirts often because we typically wore very bright bike shirts so cars would see us.  On RAGBRAI there would be only be cyclist on the road.  Being see by a car would not be a concern.  Today we wore our California bike shirts


We got up early so we could make our 7AM appointment at the "luggage truck."  We dressed for cycling, packed our  PJ's in our "over night bag," a small backpack, and exited our luxory accomidations to take some pictures.  We were soon on our way back to the campground to start our trek across Iowa.  Our host drove us to the campground where our fellow cyclist had spent the night in tents.  We said goodbye to our host, returned our night clothes to our suitecases on the truck, collected our bicycles from the van and began to ride.  Our RAGBRAI adventure had begun.        


today’s adventure - Our RAGBRAI adventure began on the western border of Iowa near the Iowa River in the small town of Rock Rapids.  We were told that the RAGBRAI route changes every year.  I am sure Rock Rapids refers to some rough water in the area along the Iowa River but true to my engineering background I had spent most of my trip preparation worrying about how many bottles of water we needed to carry each day.  The history of the area had been lost.  Translated that means I had no idea where the Iowa river was with respect to the campground where we dropped off our overnight clothes at the truck.  We could not start our ride until we located the river and dipped our rear tire in it.  It was tradition.  


We spent some time looking for the river which we found and dipped the rear tires of our bikes.  We could now start our adventure across the state of Iowa.  After exiting the river we rode back into Rock Rapids and began to look for breakfast.  I was a bit uneasy because I could see riders exiting Rock Rapids and it was the first day.  I had not acclimated and was unsure what to expect on our first 75 mile ride day.  We were loosing time looking for breakfast.  I wanted to get started toward our destination-town, Spenser, Iowa.  


As we rode through Rock Rapids along the route the exit streets were residential.  They did not take us by places to eat breakfast.  My wife came up with a great idea.  She asked if I was hungry and I said not really.  She suggested that since we had to get up at 6 AM to ride from the private home where we slept to the tent area where our “tour folks” were located to leave our luggage, why not ride 15 to 25 miles to the first pass through-town on the route each day to have breakfast.  That sounded like a great idea to me so we were off. 


As we rode out of Rock Rapids on today’s route we still did not get a hint as to what to expect.  The riders joining us were dispersed and I could count only about 25 as we rode.  The first pass-through town of today’s route was “George.”  When we reached George we entered town on a street that was perpendicular to “Main Street.” I am not sure that the name was “Main” but it would be fitting.


We rounded the corner and entered Main Street fully expecting to ride through the town looking for a McDonalds for breakfast.  When we turned the corner the street was filled from sidewalk to sidewalk with cyclists pushing their bicycles.   There must have been at least 2,000 people on the street and the crowd extended for as far as I could see down the street!  The sides of the street were lined with booths selling breakfast, snack food, drinks, bike shirts, etc. Anything a cyclist could want was available.  We had entered RAGBRAI.


We got off our bikes and began to push through the crowd on the street looking for breakfast.  We approached a booth that was selling breakfast which looked good and after a brief conversation with a lady at the booth we ordered.  We were presented with a huge breakfast.  We paid and retreated to the sidewalk and sat down on the curb to consume our first meal on our ride across Iowa.  We enjoyed the excitement around us on the street as riders continued to arrive.


After our meal we walked through town or I should say pushed our way through hundreds of cyclist for several bocks before we could get back on our bikes and continue the day’s ride.  The street was decorated and there were signs everywhere welcoming the cyclist.  There were complimentary sources of water, first aid stations, public toilets, a complementary bike repair shop, and on and on.  All of the cyclist needs were addressed.  Finally we reached the open road again and we got on our bikes and joined the cyclist back on the route. 


The services in George were duplicated in all of the pass-through towns along the day’s  route.  The only change was in the food.  The towns about half way through the route were all about lunch.  There were vendors along the road between the towns that provided food that would be unique to that particular day and we would not see again.  Other vendors stationed along the routes outside the pass-through towns would be seen everyday.  These vendors I was to learn were also along the road every year of RAGBRAI and each provided a unique treat for the cyclists.


We did not stop at the road side vendors the first day opting to stop to eat at the booths in the pass-through towns.  As we passed the vendors on the roads there were long lines of people waiting there turn.  All of the vendors were “paid” quests of farmers along the route and there were cyclist setting on the lawns of  houses or in the fields of a farms where vendors were parked munching on their purchase and discussing the day’s ride.


cycling notes The weather was great!  The temperature was between 85 and 90 degrees and the humidity was reasonable.  I had been concerned that we would experience very hot humid weather. The wind that was generated as we rode did noy enpeed my progress but kept me cool.  The road surface was good with a few "blems" in places.  I remember no bugs.   The route was flat. 


Had to have clothes at the van by 7:00 AM each day.  It seemed a bit early to me but I am not in charge.  In my mind they had all day to get our luggage to Spenser as we rode.  What was the rush? 


We saw the signs for the Catholic Church spaghetti dinner along the road as we rode into Spenser.  We decided that history had shown that spaghetti at a Catholic Church would be a good choice.  Dinner was solved just follow the signs.  Once in town we looked for the signs directing us to the information Tent.  At the Information Tent we looked on the bulletin board to find out what campground our support van had parked at.  We followed the signs to the campground and our suitcases were waiting by the truck.  We loaded our overnght clothes into a backpack and were off to the Catholic Church for dinner. 


today’s landscape - Riding the bus to Rock Rapids provided me with the a preview of what we would see as we rode across Iowa.  We passed corn and soy bean fields that were miles in length and went to the horizon.   I was told by the farmer that we stayed with the first night that corn was selling for $4 a bushel up from $2.  He owned a large farm and most of what we could see was planted in corn.  The green fields were occassionally broken by "large" hog barns with the associated aroma.


But I believe the landscape on RAGBRAI is all about the cyclist and the people of Iowa!  The riding day was puncuated by decorations, intertainment and interesting food created by the people of the pass through and destination towns.  The cyclist on the route were from everywhere in the world and interesting to talk to.  Some were dressed in "interesting" bike clothes.  Some of the bikes that were used were interesting.   


post ride activity - As we rode into Spenser we followed signs posted along the route that directed us to the Information Tent.  At the Information Tent we found out which campground I support trucks located in.  We rode to the campground and packed our backpack to support our overnight stay with our Spenser hosts.  The truck crew had already unloaded everyone's luggage and placed it near the truck.  After getting what we needed for our overnight stay we returned our suitcases to the truck.        


We rode our bicycles to the Catholic Church for spaghetti.  We cable locked our bikes to a post near the door and joined the line waiting for dinner.  As we waited a woman appeared and told us that they had ran out of food.  She counted off a number of people in front of us and said they could not serve anyone beyond that point. 


My wife suggested that we stay and move up to the last person she had counted to in the line after the other people who had been waiting had left.  She reasoned that they must have enough food to serve three more.  The three being that a fellow from the campground who was from Denmark had joined us for spagetti at the Catholic Church.  I think he was a little taken aback by our boldness but it worked.  When the lady reappeared we were ushered in with the others and got to eat.  Chalk another one up for my wife!


After a great spaghetti dinner with homemade pie for desert we exited the church.  We had discussed using the shower provided by the Tour Service at the campground during the day's ride.  There had been no indication from the information we had received from our hosts for the evening that we would be able use their factilites.  Just to be safe we thought we should use the shower at the campground. 


The portable shower stalls were transported on one of the trucks and set out immdeiately beside the truck in the campground.  The water was supplied by a bag given to the "shower participant" at the truck and taken into the tent and hung from a hook on one wall.  The water had been heated during the wait for the cyclist to arrive.  The water was dispensed and shutoff by pulling a rope.  The process I used was to hang the water on the hook, disrobe and hang my clothes on the side of the tent away from the shower side.  I returned to the rope that dispensed the water to wet myself down.  I soaped my entire body and pulled again on the cord to rinse away the soap.  I completed the process by drying myself off with the towel I had brought from home and dressed in "tomarrows bike clothes."  


I exited the tent returned soap and towel to my luggage.  We located our bikes and exited the campground looking for our home for the evening.  Spenser was small enough that we found the house easily.  The lady of the house and her husband met us at the door.   Early in our conversation she told us that her husband had had a stroke which had impaired his memory.  It was not apparent talking with him.


We traded stories about our kids and our impression of Iowa so far.  "Why are you bicycling?" was a topic of conversation.  Our host did not bicycle and we were to find that all of the people who we stayed the evening with on our ride across Iowa did not bicycle.  We had a very good conversation and afterward we went to bed.  And, she asked if we wanted to shower.  We made the assumption that this question would be asked all the way across Iowa and it was.  One shower at the campground was sufficiant to teach me that showering at the campground should be added to sleeping in a tent.


Our room was upstairs in a beautifully decorated loft bedroom.  The room was very pleasant and a couple of cyclist with their evening bags could create a mess. 


I was a bit worried about meetings our hosts on our ride across RAGBRAI but our experience on our overnight stays so far had been very good.  The people were interesting and they wanted to know "why we were doing this."   They wanted to make us welcome and they were very open and to the point in our discusions which I appreciate.  It had been a very good start to our RAGBRAI adventure.  Looking forward to tomorrow. 





 ..many bicycles provided their own entertainment...

 ...our first Beekman's Ice Cream experience...notice the length of the line...the revews justified the wait...

...every pass-through town was decorated...Melvin celebrates "Moose Days"... 


 DAY 2 -  Ride Across Iowa - Spenser to Humboldt- July 23


...looking for breakfast in the first pass-through town...

...our afternoon "power food" Beekman's Ice Cream..

..during our canvass of the "vendor tent" area my wife purchased a massage...

...the Iowa people we stayed with put our logo in their front yard..."Seniors On Bikes" (SOBs)...

plan for the day - Today’s route would start in Spenser Iowa.  Humboldt was our destination town a distance of 77 miles. 


The ride begins by executing our "RAGBRAI Morning Routine."  We bicycle to the campground where the "support trucks" are parked and drop off our overnight clothes before 7 AM.  We exit the campground and locate today's route.  We plan to eat breakfast in the first "pass through" town.  


We selected our German bike shirts for today's ride which we wore on our bicycle adventure through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Bratislava but who's bragging!


We had received an email from our hostess in Humboldt before we left home for Iowa telling us that she expected us for dinner.  We could skip "looking for directions to the Catholic Church" on the way into Humboldt.


getting start - We woke up from a great night's sleep at the home of the couple in Spenser, Iowa who had graciously opened their home to us.  We got up early, 6 AM, so we could make our 7AM appointment at the "luggage truck" at the campground.  We packed our PJ's and walking around clothes in our "overnight backpack."  We put on our bike clothes for the day's ride, our German shirts.  We attempted to tidy up the room as much as possible.  The room was in a loft and was beautifully decorated.  It was very pleasant.     


Downstairs we said goodbye to our host and hostess.  They were aware of our need to get to the campground early so the conversation was brief.  We retrieved our bikes from the garage, waved goodbye and began our ride to the campground.  At the campground we put our backpack into one of our suite cases on the truck and prepared to ride.  We exited the campground and located the exit from Spenser onto today's route.  Day 2 of our trek across Iowa had begun.  


today’s adventure – We were quickly adapting to the routine for our RAGBRAI adventure by day 2.  The good people of Iowa had allowed us to avoid sleeping in a tent so we were not saddled with "tent disassembly" and associated truck storage.  Although the morning start time was early, getting up from a very pleasant sleep in a bed and cycling half a mile to the campground was not bad.  We had the added advantage of meeting some of the local people where we spent the night which was an added bonus.     


The idea of finding breakfast in the first pass-through town was a keeper.  The plan had worked well the day before and we now knew that the first pass-through town would provide numerous places where we would find an excellent breakfast.   The first pass-through town today was Dickens.  When we reached Dickens we decided to try the pancake breakfast being served in a huge tent by the local Firemen.  I crave pancakes but avoid the calories at home.  One of the advantages of cycling is I have an excuse to eat everything I find.  It is necessary that I have sufficient calories each day to bicycle 70 miles!


As we stood in line waiting to buy our breakfast we got into a conversation with one of the cyclist waiting with us.  The conversation was about how great the food was along the route.  He asked if we had tried Beekman’s Homemade Ice Cream.  Our response was "no" and he said "you have to try it."  He told us it was wonderful and we would find them located outside one of the last two pass-through towns each day.  He suggested we make it our desert after our noon meal.  Ice Cream is my favorite desert!  I may gain weight on RAGBRAI!


After breakfast we walked through Dickens enjoying the RAGBRAI atmosphere created by the town people before we got on our bikes and continued our journey to Humboldt.  Yesterday's experience had taught us to expect entertainment in every pass-through town.  Dickens was a good start and experience had taught us to expect creative decorations for the remainder of the ride. 


Laurens was particularly interesting to us because we have a family member by that name.  We took a picture setting on the running board of an ancient fire truck with the town’s name printed on its side.   When we entered Eagle Rock we passed under someone in an eagle costume sitting high in a tree.  Downtown Eagle Rock was bristling with entertainment.  We were treated to a performance by the high school drill team located in a side street accompanied by music supplied by "boom boom boxes" in the background.  


Further along the route we took a picture in a jail cell with our jailer.  I took a picture with several covered wagons parked along the side of the street as we walked through ne of the pass-through towns on or route.  Bicycles decorated with an elaborate array of flowers were attached to lamp posts in one town along the route.  We rode for a quarter of a mile between American flags set every few yards along the route we entered another pass-through town.  There are more than corn fields on display along the route on RAGBRAI.    


We were treated to entertainment in every pass-through town and the destination-towns for the remainder of our ride across Iowa.  My favorites were Eagle Rock and Denver.  Eagle Rock was special because of the amount of creative entertainment and decoration.  Denver was a favorite because as we rode into town we were greeted by a group of young children standing along the curb yelling "where are you from?"  Then it was "two bits, 4 bits, six bits a dollar, all for California stand up and holler.  yea......."  They were very cute, dressed up and enthusiastic.  They selected random cyclist from the crowd that rode into Denver to cheer for.  My wife is from Denver which made it a bit more special. 


In the afternoon we spotted Beekman’s Ice Cream and after "our RAGBRAI veteran" had told us at breakfast we should give it a try, we made our way through the bike traffic and rode onto the shoulder dumping our bikes in a ditch.  Dumped is a bad term.  We laid our bikes gently down on the bank of a very deep ditch. 


We stood in a long line of ice cream lovers waiting our turn.  We decided to buy only one small ice cream and share it.  We realized that mistake as soon as we tried it.  It was great!  Every day on RAGBRAI would prove to be a learning experience.  The next day we bought two large ice creams, one each and there was no sharing.  Beekman's became a must have for the remainder of the week.  We were lucky the conversation about Beekman’s had occurred at breakfast on the second day of the ride.


We finished our Beekman's delight, got back on our bikes and joined the other cyclist on the road.  We had about 15 miles to ride or about an hour until we reached Humboldt.  Since our hosts for the evening had invited us for dinner we did not have to find the Catholic Church but I noted the signs on the way in for practice.  We had learned the day before that the location of the Catholic Church, where the spaghetti dinner was served was posted along the road.  


We had also learned that signs directing us to the Information Tent where all of the pass-through town knowledge was stored would be posted along our route on the way into the destination town.  We followed the signs to the Information Tent where the directions to the campground would be posted on a bulletin board.  We also would ask one of the people working at the Information Tent for directions to the house were we would spend the evening.  We would then ride to the campground, collect our clothes for the evening in a backpack and return to the "tent village."  We had reached town with sufficient time to relax and explore the "vendor tent village."  The "tent village" had also become a must see.  We were adjusting quickly to the daily routine.     


today’s landscape - The Iowa landscape was corn fields as far as the eye could see.  The area we rode in was flat and the corn fields disappeared in both directions for miles.  The corn stalks were at least two feet above my head and I am 6 feet tall.  The color of the corn was dark green and the color was striking. The Iowa countryside was very green.  One rider told me that Iowa had been marsh land and had been filled in by hauling dirt in horse drawn wagons.  Just a little of the history I learned from fellow cyclist on RAGBRAI.


The RAGBRAI landscape was all about the cyclist on the road and the people of Iowa who were entertaining them.  All of the towns along the route were decorated, enjoyable and memorable  The people of Iowa opened their towns up for us to enjoy.  Each “pass through” town provided bike shops, food, drink, and entertainment.  Thousands of cyclist had travelled to Iowa to enjoy the hospitality.  10,000 riders had been picked in a lottery to ride.  I was told that an additional 10,000 to 20,000 just dropped in to ride each day.  The line of cyclist along the road must have stretched for 50 miles. 


cycling notes The weather remained very pleasant.  The weather was rather cool and the humidity was low.  We had expected hot weather with extreme humidity on RAGBRAI.  I grew up in Kentucky and expected the same weather in Iowa.  The road was flat.  It was a bit rolling but based on our experience riding in California "it was flat."  We experienced some wind but it was not a major factor.


All of the pass-through towns provided bike maintenance.  The service was complimentary but a tip basket was provided.  I am sure that the belief is that a “repaired, safe” bike on the road is preferable to an unfortunate road accident which put several cyclist down.  The other shop owners probably pitched in to pay for the service.     There were bicycle vendors, Trek for example, who loaned their latest popular bikes for a day to ride to the next destination town.  They would deliver your bike to the next destination town where it could be picked up when you returned their bike to the "tent."


We had selected riding shirts that we both owned to take with us.  We planned to wear duplicate shirts until we ran out.  We did not have enough to cover the entire trip.  We got a lot of positive response about our bike shirts which I had not expected. 


The camp vs home locations were very good.  The towns were small which meant that if the camp was established in the town we were close to our stay for the night.  We were some distance from the truck campground on only two days, the first day when we stayed at a farm outside of Rock Rapids and the last day in Dyersville.  Our hosts for the evening transported us to the campground on both of these days. 


post ride activity - At the vendor tent village" we located the Trek tent to return the Trek bike my wife had tried on today's route.  We retrieved my wife's bike and continued our walk through the "village.".  My wife spotted a Cannondale Bike tent across from Trek's location and walked over to ask if they provided the same "1 day trial ride." They would loan a bike to ride tomorrow's route and transport her bike to Hampton.   My wife had the bike fitted took a brief spin to make sure the fit worked and she had a "new" bike to try the following day.   


As we continued to walk after the bike swap my wife spotted a massage tent.  She said she needed a fix.  We had made good time even with our ice cream stop at Beekman's so we had the time for a massage and meet our dinner date at the home where we were staying the night.  While my wife enjoyed her massage I continued to roam through the "village" checking out what they offered.


After the massage we headed for our home for the evening.  We stayed with a Baptist Minister and his wife in Humboldt.  They had two other quests, brothers from Saint Louis who were sleeping in tents in the yard.  They had access to a warm shower and bathroom even if they were in a tent.  We took turns taking a shower. 


We stayed in a room with double beds which I am sure was at one time the kids room.  Our hostess served a great meal.  We had a great discussion about RAGBRAI and cycling over dinner.  One of the brothers owned a bed and breakfast.  The other had been caught up in a "business" reorganization where he was employed and lost his job.  They were planning to start a restaurant together and support hotels around the bed and breakfast.  They explained the idea they had for their adventure and it sounded like an interesting, workable idea.



 of the many decorations we visited in the pass-through towns along our route...

 ...enjoying the walk with the crowd in one of the pass-through towns along our route....




 DAY 3 -  Ride Across Iowa - Humbolt to Hampton - July 24


....its not all corn...we were treated to flowers occasionally along our route.... 

....Mr Pork Chop..the vendor parked in the driveway and the customers took over the yard to enjoy their purchase...

every pass-through town was a "happening" - entertainment, food, help, relief, and decorations

..the entry to each pass-through town had something that was a little special to initiate the excitement...

plan for the day - Today we ride from Humboldt to Hampton Iowa, a distance of about 71 miles. We begin the riding day executing our "RAGBRAI Morning Routine."  We had a quick conversation to thank the people who had allowed us to use their home.  We return to the campground on our bikes, dump our overnight "stuff" into our suitcases and return the suitcases to the van.  We exit the campground, locate today's route and start our ride to today's first pass-through town where we plan to find breakfast. Today we will wear our Furnace Creek 508 bike shirts.  We have two so all along the route will know that we are together.


We will be having dinner at the Catholic Church today  returning us to our RAGBRAI end of day routine.  On the way into Hampton we will look for the signs along the road that provide directions to the spaghetti dinner at the Catholic Church.  We will locate the Information Tent and find out which campground has been selected by our support truck.  We will ride to the campground where the crew has placed our luggage outside the truck for pickup.  We pull our overnight clothes and riding outfit for the next day out of our luggage and put them into a backpack, put our luggage back into the truck and ride our bikes to dinner at the Catholic Church.  After dinner we ride to the home in Hampton where we will spend the night. 


getting start - We got up and prepped for the early morning ride to the truck campground.  We dressed in our bike outfits and stuffed the leftovers in my backpack.  We located our hostess who was in the kitchen having created quite a spread of "quick" breakfast "goodies" for us to eat.  We had to beg off eating a full breakfast because of our rondavue at the campground, but it looked too good not to taste.  I woofed down a cup of coffee and a pastry while we shared a quick conversation with our hostess.  We thanked her letting us spend the night at her home.         


We finished our breakfast treats, said our goodbyes, got our bikes from the garage and headed for the campground to meet our 7 AM commitment.  We beat our arrival time, dumped the pack into our luggage, hoisted it onto the truck and headed off to follow the signs to today's route. 


Today's adventure - We were soon on the route and headed for today's breakfast in Dakota City.  We enjoyed a great breakfast with good conversation.  Afterward we mounted our bikes and returned to the road with thousands of cyclist heading for the Mississippi River.  


The large number of cyclist riding with me along the road was a concern.  There were bicycles as far as the eye could see in both directions.  Bicyclists were stretched for miles along the road.  My concern had resulted from a bad cycling experience during a bicycle ride before the Los Angles Marathon.  On that ride the road was packed with cyclist as well and I quickly discovered that the riders did not understand the rules of the road or cycling etiquette.  Riders changed lanes indiscriminately, suddenly stopped in the middle of the road, and did not tell other riders what they intended to do before they took action.  As a result people were knocked down all over the course and it took all the cycling skill and experience we had to avoid an ugly spill.  Now I found myself riding in a mob of cyclist again with little room for error.  


But unlike my LA Marathon experience I quickly gained respect for the cycling expertise on RAGBRAI.  The cyclist organized themselves into what I will categorize as skill groups along the road.  A better description might be organized themselves into "physical capability" groups along the road.  The more serious or better riders drafted along in long trains at 25 miles an hour or better in the center of the road.  I describe this as the "Pace Line" consisting of 10 to 30 riders riding on the left side of the center line of the road in single file or in two lines averaging 18 to 22 miles an hour.  A number of us pedaled along at 15 miles an hour in a line next to the better or more serious cyclist along the road.  Some cyclists cruised along to their own drummer or maybe were unable to keep pace with the cyclist in the road's center and located themselves in lines to the right of us humming along at different speeds with the slowest riding along the right edge of the road.     


The riders were disciplined.  Every rider was very aware of his or her position in the group and continuously warned riders near them of their movements.  Movement by a cyclist was always preceded by "on your right," "rider up," "moving through the center" etc.  In 7 days of riding the only accident that we witnessed was the loss of a chain on a hill during a gear change which resulted in a woman falling and the best of us have had that experience.


The pass-through towns along the route continued to entertain us and provide for all our bicycle needs.  The conversations on the road  with our fellow cyclists continued to be entertaining and informative.  And of course we had our pork chop and ice cream as we bicycled toward today's goal, Hampton.          


today’s landscape - We continued our ride through miles of corn fields on both sides of our route.  Occasionally the corn fields were interrupted by a farm house, barn or both along the road.  


The scene on the road continued to entertain.  The cyclists were from all 50 states and many were from other countries.  The conversations were interesting and informative because there were many RAGBRAI veterans. 


The towns along the route added to the entertainment with their interesting decorations.  The pass-through towns produced an interesting, memorable and enjoyable interlude from the cycling. 


cycling notes - The road surface was cement or asphalt.  At times cracks that ran across the road and made one made one think that a new bike seat may be in order after 60 miles.   


Our experience with the portable shower at the campground provided for those who were sleeping in tents convinced us that we wanted to avoid the "camping life."   It is not our thing.  We enjoy bicycling and I consider camping as another sport.


As we rode into today's destination-town, Humboldt, we entered the "tent town" which went on for several blocks and offered food and bike help among other support the cyclist may want or need.  My wife spied a massage tent.  We stopped and my wife got a massage.  Even when we are bicycling by ourselves on the road we will take advantage of a massage if the hotel offers one.  On the following day we discovered that there was a guy at our support van that gave massages.  That became a regular activity for the rest of the ride across Iowa.


We could plan to average no more than 10 miles an hour to allow walking through each pass-through town and stop for food along the road and of course Beckman's Ice Cream in the afternoon.


post ride activity -  Our "post ride routine" became an adventure in Hampton.  After our spaghetti dinner at the Catholic Church we began to look for the house were we were to stay the night.  We were trying to locate "First Street" and began to ride to the address.  The street ended in a corn field before we reached the address.  In frustration I went up to the door of a house near by and knocked.  A man came to the door and I told him my dilemma.  He asked who I was looking for and I gave him the name.  He said I know him but he lives on First Avenue.  He turned and went back into the house and when he returned he said, "follow me."  He got into his pickup truck and we followed him on our bicycles to the house on First Avenue.  Only in Iowa could you get that kind of community support. 


When we arrived there were notes on the door telling us to go in and take a shower and where we were to sleep.  We were to sleep in a camper in back of the house.  Inviting strangers into the house was new for me as well but cyclist are good people and this ain't LA.   


Our host came home briefly to see if we made it ok.  He had to go back downtown to pick up his wife.  She was playing in a band.  My wife volunteered to return downtown with him to pick up his wife.  I wanted to go to bed so the guy tells my wife she can leave me at home and go with him.  I unpacked, fixed water and rested.  When they returned they brought a slice of pie for me to eat.  I met his wife and we all talked for some time before going to bed.  My wife told me later that everyone in town knew him and they were not allowed to pay for the pie that I had eaten.


Our host experience in Humboldt was especially entertaining.  The husband was a crusty guy.  He told us a story about his bow and arrow practice.  He shot an error during practice but after releasing the arrow from his bow he could not find it.  He searched and searched and finally located it stuck near a window of the woman’s house next door.  It had just missed a window by inches and was sticking in the house.  He removed the arrow and sneaked home!




......some of the pass-through town activities and decorations we visited along today's route.... 






 DAY 4 -  Ride Across Iowa - Hampton to Cedar Falls - July 25




..riding through the "trees" along the Iowa  landscape....

...complimentary services & supplies were provided in every town along the route...

...judging by where we signed there are many riders ahead of us on the road...

...campground massage...note the campground is green and spacious...  

plan for the day - The plan for the day, Wednesday July 25, is to ride from Hampton to Cedar Falls a distance of 68 miles.  The pass-through towns along the route are; Aredale, Dumont, Kesley, Aplington, and Stout. 

Today we would wear our bright, red flowered shirts. I had purchased our red-flowered shirts from Performance for $17 each.  I thought they were a bit "not cycling attire" but I needed a shirt and they fit my budget.  

getting start – We slept in a trailer-camper.  From the outside it had the appearance of a "square tent" inside a trailer.  It was very roomy and comfortable and we could stand up and move around easily.  I slept very well either because of the physical effort required during yesterday's ride or the bed in the camper was very comfortable.  I am going to guess both. 

We got up and put on the bike clothes for the day.  We packed our overnight clothes in our small backpack.  We located our host and hostess to thank them for their kindness.  We pulled our bikes out of the garage, waved goodbye and headed for the campground where our support van was located.    

At the campground we located our truck and put our overnight backpack inside one of our suit cases.  We exited the campground and located the days route.  Our "RAGBRAI morning routine" was complete accept for breakfast in the first pass-through town. 

today’s adventure - Our first three days of RAGBRAI had taught us that the food provided in each pass-through town was based on its' location along the route.  The first “pass through” was Aredale breakfast would be served.  We could expect to find places to stop for breakfast both between and in Aredale and Dumont the first two towns of today's route. 


There are typically no comments about riding shirts on our rides in California.  Most riders wear a shirt they received for participation in a difficult ride or displays some other “macho” theme.  So I was surprised when we received a lot of “good” comments about our cheap, red flowered bike shirts.  The red flowered bike shirt was a real hit.   On the second day of our ride across Iowa the Town of Lauren’s had selected a Hawaiian theme for their decorations and used the identical flowered shirt to the red one we wore today accept it had blue flowers.  I would have preferred the blue but it was not available when I purchased ours.  


To entertain ourselves we would play Lance at times along the routeThe left of center portion of the road was devoted to pace lines. We were riding on the left side of the center line and occasionally a pace line would speed by on our left.  I had learned the technique of entering a daft line "drafting behind wagons pulled by farm tractors" in France.  I was riding in France with my son Jack who trained me in the art of latching onto a pace line.  The secret is to race along beside the pace line (or the tractor) approaching the speed of the riders starting at least 5 riders from the end of the pace line.  Then when the last rider in the pace line passes quickly drop behind him or her and crank like hell hoping not to drop more than a few feet behind the last rider until being pulled along by the rider in front. 


Once in draft of the rider in front I can relax and maintain the pace line's speed without an extreme effort.  Some days the pace line I entered was doing better than 20 miles an hour.  I am not sure I could hook onto a pace line that was doing better than 25 miles an hour.   I was dropped a couple of times trying to hook onto the pace line on RAGBRAI. 


We had adopted a plan after the first day to maintain an average speed on the road that would allow us to walk through each town and stop along the route for special "unexpected" culinary treats that appeared along the route.   Our "Lance" practice helped us maintain our schedule. 


The speed on the road helped us enjoy the huge menu of delicious food along each day's route and meet our end of day itinerary.  The food on RAGBRAI was very good.  Food was served everywhere along the route and at numerous locations in the pass-through towns.  The menu changed as the miles increased along the route.  In the morning the first pass-through towns served breakfast.  In the middle of the day lunch was served.  In the destination towns it was dinner.  The lines waiting to eat could be long but moved quickly and the conversations while waiting in line were always interesting.


We expected to find Mr Pork Chop, our lunch of choice, between Kesley and Aplington.  Kesley and Aplington provided places to have lunch but we were spoiled and did not look for lunch inside a pass-through town after discovering Mr Pork Chop.   We would be looking for Beekman’s Ice Cream between Aplington and Stout.  Dinner would be spaghetti with all the trimmings at the Catholic Church in Cedar Falls. We would look for the directions to our evening meal  posted along the road after the pass-through town of Stout. 


Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  Our Hostess in dryerville served her overnight guests breakfast.  She served her special French Toast with coffee, fruit and sausage.  It was very good and hit th spot.  An excellent start to the day.


The fire departments in each of the early pass-through towns served breakfasts. The line of people waiting to eat breakfast indicated that the food must be very good.  The first day the long line prevented us from giving it a try.  But we decided that the attention the firemen were getting must indicate very good food.  We decided we had to have the experience so we stood in line.  We were served a huge pancake and egg breakfast.  It was very good and pancakes are a favorite.  


One day we failed to find a breakfast of choice in the first pass through town.  We decided to wait and eat a Mr Pork chop for breakfast and lunch. 


We had seen and been told about Farm Boys “Breakfast Burrito.” We were told it was a must try but we did not get through all of the "must try" places our fellow riders told us about until the next to last day of the ride.  Once we reached the serving area after a wait in line I was surprised at the selection.  They had about everything that one would want to eat for breakfast and it could be rolled into a burtito.  I enjoy food that is all mixed together and the mixture had a great taste.  I should have shopped at Farm Boy's earier in the week.  Then it would have been Farm Boys, Mr Pork Chop, Beekman's and the Catholic Church.  


For lunch Mr Pork Chop  became a favorite.  Once we had a pork chop we stopped most days on the ride for lunch at Mr Pork Chop's.  We did try other vendor's along the road just to make sure we did not miss another food experience.  We tried Turkey Tom’s where we actually got a chicken breast on a bun.  The Turkey Tom part of it was that they served huge turkey legs.  People could be seen setting around on the ground near the serving tent chomping away on them.  The chicken breast sandwich was very good but I did not try the turkey leg.  The suspected cleanup after the experience gave me pause.  Bechmans ice cream became a must each afternoon and was the best ice cream ever.


There was water and Gateraid for sale everywhere in the pass through-towns towns. I am sure candy, peanuts, coke and every other snack could be found as well.  There were trucks selling food at cross roads along the route so a hungry cyclist could grab a snack.  Farmers also sold corn on the cob and we stopped for watermelon.  We purchased nuts from an Amish farmer one day along the route.     


today’s landscape The pass-through towns continued to provide a carnival atmosphere.  The landscape continued to be corn and bicyclist. 


There was an occasional road side decoration created by a farmer who had taken the time to create a bit of roadside entertainment for the long line of cyclist as they rode past.


The decorations worked providing a brief respite from the miles of corn stalks that "typically" ran as far as the eye could see. 


We rode over a river today.  The first and only river we have seen so far on our trek across Iowa.  The water was up to the top of its banks and also very brown.  From my Kentucky farming experience this indicated that a heavy rain had washed down the river's banks producing a dark brown color.  But we had experienced no rain on our ride!


cycling notes - We were a bit non-plused when we learned that our "van service" expected us to arrive at the campground before 7 AM each day to put our luggage on the truck.   Typically on our bicycle rides we get up, read the newspaper, drink cups of coffee, eat breakfast and then start to ride.  We ge up at 7 and are on the raod at 9!  


We learned from discussions with the crew however that in order to get the best campground accommodations which were near downtown and the tent village in the destination town the truck had to be on the road no later than 7AM.  The second truck could not be delayed because the traffic into the destination town would prevent it from reaching the campground until after the first cyclist had arrived.  We would have to drop our lazy morning habits for RAGBRAI!   


The campgrounds selected by our "van service" were convenient to everything.  They were located to the center of town where the "vendor tent village" was erected.  The village contained various food stalls, bike shops, bike vendors and nick-nik shops.  It was also near the information tent and the entertainment provided in the destination-town.  At the campground one of the trucks that was supporting our trek across Iowa had a large freezer filled with beer, coke, water, Gateraid, etc. sold at a very reasonable price to the campers.  There was also a guy giving a massage for a rice at the camp ground.  And ofcourse there were the showers. 


Our bike shirts created much more interest from our fellow riders than I had expected.  We wore a different shirt each day of the ride.  Typically we wear bright shirts of a solid color in California because we want the driver of the automobile to be sure he sees us befoe he hits us.  We brought our "flowered shirt" and our California shirts.  I wore my University of Colorado shirt one day.  We brought a shirt we wore on our ride along the bike path we rode on in Germany.


post ride activity We rode into Cedar Falls with the directions to our spaghette dinner.  The town was larger than the other desination-towns where we had been staying in our trek across Iowa.  I believe that Cedar Falls has a population of about 30,000. 


Our home for the evening would be in the dorm at Northern Iowa University.  We decided to check in and find our room before dinner.  Experience had taught us that "room selection" might take some effort and being early might prove to be an advantage.  Check in went very smoothly.  We dumped our stuff in our room and went back downstairs to bike to the church for dinner.  


The lines were longer at the church and we had to ride a mile and a half to get to our spaghetti dinner.  Dinner at the church was great as usual but checking in to our room and the delays at dinner had made us late for a Lance Armstrong talk at the auditorium.     


We had purchased tickets for the event in LA before we left.  We had seen Armstrong's train of riders pass a couple of times as we rode our daily RAGBRAI route.  I would guess there were about 25 riders in his group and they were cranking.  They passed quickly. 


He was to talk in the auditorium about cycling.  The Tour de France was in progress as we rode across Iowa so it was a topic of discussion on the ride and by Lance.  A band was to play after the talk.  Lance's talk was interesting but the band was not as wonderful so we split after a couple of songs. 


We browsed through the "vender tent" area.   All of the destination-towns sold RAGBRAI shirts with the name of the town on them.  We decided to buy the one from Cedar Falls.  After satisfying our shopping curiosity we headed back to the dorm.   


Our room had been very hot when we checked in.  There was no air conditioner so we opened the windows and the door and it became bearable. We left the window open when we left for the church.  It had cooled some after the sun went down.  We took our community shower in the dorm.  Our "mature" dorm mates communicated with each other by yelling down the hallways.  The sudden out burst could be a shock. Thank goodness the yelling ended about 9 and all was quiet.   It had been another good day on RAGBRAI.




........afternoon menu.......



 DAY 5 -  Ride Across Iowa - Cedar Falls to Independance - July 26


...our favorite along the route....yea California....

...a break in the corn...

...we finally remembered to put our "team logo" on our bikes... food along the route....

plan for the day - Today we bicycle to Independence a distance of 63 miles. We had completed our wardrobe of bike shirts that we both had one of.  For the rest of the trip we would have to make it up as we go.  Our bike shirts for the day were, me in light florescent green and my wife in light green with dark sleeves.  The pass-through towns would be Denver, Klinger, Dunkerton and Fairbank. 


getting start - We had spent the night at Northern Iowa University.  No conversation, no goodbyes just get up and get dressed.  We had brought our bikes up to our room. Once we were dressed and our overnight stuff was packed in our backpack we headed for the elevator. 


The elevator arrived, we got on board and headed down to street level.  We exited the building and rode to the campground where the truck was parked.  We put our overnight clothes and yesterday's bike outfit into our suitcase, added the backpack and closed our luggage.  I put the luggage onto the truck and we got back on our bikes and headed off to locate today's route.  We found the route headed for breakfast.    


today’s adventure - We exited Cedar Falls and joined the RAGBRAI rolling party party on the road.  We were quickly in the midst of the thousands of riders along the road that I could see stretched to the horizon in both directions.


On all of the bicycle rides that my wife and I have participated in around the world and in the United States "we" had the responsibility of turning the activity into a meaningful experience.  On RAGBRAI all we had to do was ride.  The environment provided the entertainment. 


The numerous memorable conversations with our fellow riders on the road and the interaction with the people of Iowa in the pass-through and destination towns were very rewarding. There were continuous, interesting conversations between the riders on the road.  We met and interacted with the people of Iowa all along the route. 


Bicyclists rode together across Iowa sharing stories with each other and the people we met from Iowa.  To recall a few I remember my daily conversation with the eighty year old lady I passed in the morning and after Beekman's ice cream in the afternoons.  I met a fellow who lived very near us from California on our last day and discussing Iowa and RAGBRAI.  Providing a short dissertation on life in LA in response to a question from an Iowan manning a booth in one of the pass-through towns who discovered I was from California.  I enjoyed standing in line in a farmer’s field passing time with a rider from Oregon waiting my turn to buy a large cup of Beekman’s Home Made Ice Cream.  I discussed the training schedule in Alaska of a fellow rider as we fought to stay attached to the pace line.  I discussed where to ride in Pennsylvania after being dropped by the Pelloton with rider from Philadelphia.  I provided a short dissertation on life in LA in response to a question from an Iowan manning a booth in one of the pass through towns.  We had

been entertained daily by the cyclist we ran into in the pass-through towns or on the route who wore special riding outfits or maybe I should say outfits which were not "riding outfits."  Our first special surprised occurred at the campground by a lady who wore a rather fancy dress to bicycle in.   Then there was a couple on a tandum dressed in lepard constomswhich acted as their riding clothes.  In one of the pass-through towns we took pictures with two ladies who wore nude, plastic bottoms as part of their riding attire.


We met a guy in one of the pass-through towns whose helmet was decorated with a large ear of corn.  I rode up on an incumbent bike with a father peddling in the front with a young lad on the back seat peddling hard.  The young guy on the back seat was peddling backwards!  We passed a woman one morning riding on her bike with dog in a basket mounted to the handle bars.   


We were surprised about the discussion from the other riders about our bike shirts.  We wore a different one each day of the ride.  Typically we wear bright shirts of a solid color in California because we want the driver of the automobile to be sure he sees us before he or she hits us.  We carried our "flowered shirt,"  our California shirts, I wore my University of Colorado shirt one day, and we brought a shirt we bought to ride along the bike path in Germany.  The red flowered bike shirt was a real hit.  It was my cheap purchase from Performance for $17.  The Town of Lauren’s had a Hawaiian theme and used the identical shirt but theirs was blue.


Along with the unusual bike outfits that we saw along the route there were a large number of unusual bicycles that were being ridden.  As part of each day's experience along the route we encountered numerous two wheel entertainment vehicles.  All of the unusual bikes that I saw were in pass-through towns that we entered I assumed must have been ridden along the route.   Many of the bicycles along the route were decorated.  Some of the bicycles were unique. One incumbent bicycle was shaped like a banana.  We saw 5 people riding on "one" tandem bicycle. 


There were many bikes that had multiple riders.  We saw 5 people riding on "one" tandem bicycle.  One bicycle had eight riders on itWe saw an incumbent bicycle parked in one of the pass-through towns that had a "sail."  I assumed that the sail must have been used and was effective because we saw the bike after riding into town.  I do not remember seeing the bicycle along the road so I must assume that the cyclist has beaten us into town.  So my conclusion must be that the sail was effective moving the bike.  I cannot see how it would have not been a problem if it was just for show.


We encountered several bicycles pulling solar powered music boxes behind them on trailers.  The music boomed as the trailers were pulled past us followed by a long line of cyclist.  The pace line that followed the music was making good time.  The trailer that housed the solar player "looked" heavy and I would believe make it difficult to pull at the speed necessary to support a pace line.   But, the music trailer followed by a line of cyclist cranking at better pace than the 15 mile an hour pace that I was able to to maintain. 


The pace lines on RAGBRAI were entertained by music from a "music boxes"  powered by a solar panel on a trailer pulled by a cyclist.  The trailing riders were treated to music to reduce the stain of keeping up.  A pace line passed us with the cyclist in the front pulling a trailer with a solar powered music box.  The cyclist pulling that line must have been in good shape.  Typically the cyclist pulling the music box was not pulling the pace line.  It should be noted that Lance rode by us on a couple of days with a pace line of cyclist.  The riders were all wearing identical uniforms and they were cranking.  He was probably riding on other days but my rapid pace even with stopping for beekmans ice cream allowed me to leave him behind! 


Every day I would play Lance for a while.  The left of center portion of the road was devoted to pace lines. We were riding on the left side of the center line and occasionlly a pace line would speed by on our left.  I had learned "drafting behind wagons pulled by farm tractors"  in France with my son Jack that to latch on to a pace line it was necessary to crank as hard as one could.  The secret is to race along beside the pace line approaching the speed of the riders starting at least 5 riders from the end of the pace line.  When the last rider in the pace line passes me I quickly drop behind him or her and crank like hell hoping not to drop more than a few feet behind the last rider until I begin to be pulled along by the rider in front of me.  Once in draft of the rider in front of me I relax a bit and maintain the pace line's speed without an extreme effort.  Some days the pace line I entered was doing better than 20 miles an hour.  I am not sure I could hook onto a pace line that was doing better than 25 miles an hour. 


today’s landscape - We continued to ride past miles of corn while conversing with fellow cyclist, looking at the decorations, walking through the pass-through towns on the route and of course stopping to enjoy the food. 


We encountered our second river along our route inside the destination town of Independence.  A building standing on the edge of the river looked like a mill which used the power of the river to grind "something."  It is Iowa so I would assume corn meal was the product produced. 


We rode past numerous tractors and other farm equipment parked along the RAGBRAI route.  In some locations tractors were parked in long rows of ten or more.       


cycling notes - I had arrived in Iowa with leg problems but my leg did not bother me and I got stronger every day.  My wife tried a Trek bike one day and a Specialized bike a second day which she was loaned by the vendors in the "tent vendor" area of the destination towns.  She developed saddle sores and knee problems in the two 70 mile test rides.  That confirmed our belief that it is necessary to take the bicycle we trained on a bike trip.  It is impossible to get adjusted to a new bike in 50 miles.


On the way back from getting money at the bank we passed a fellow standing on the bridge over the river in Independance.  We asked if all was well as we passed and he told us that he was waiting for his bicycle group to arrive.  It was almost dark as we stood talking.  He told us that they had stopped at the beer tent in one of the early towns on the days route.  They had gotten smashed and were being transported to Independence on the “sag” wagon.  I now understood how the drinking and cycling was accomplished without becoming a risk to the other partisipation.  If one gets bombed they and their bike take the sag wagon to the destination-town.  The nice thing is they are not riding with us. 


We identified ourselves on RAGBRAI with the team name "Seniors On Bicycles” SOB's.  We were unaware when we selected our "Team" name tht it would be posted in the front yard of the house where we stayed for all to see.  No one made any comments.  Some of that California humor which was ignored in Iowa. 


Our RAGBRAI Team should have been posted on a sign on the back of our bicycles under the seat each day of the ride.  “We” had forgotten to hang our nickname on our bikes for the first four days of the ride.  When we did remember we received several inquires from cyclist approaching us from behind on the road but no one laughed.  We must have been the only ones who found humor in our name!  Maybe they thought we were SOBs!


post ride activity - The campground selected by our support folks was outside of town in a beautiful wooded area.  The problem for us was the campground was not easy to find.  We also ran into the worst RAGBRAI official on our ride who.  We asked him for help after we got lost attempting to find the campground. 


He had a radio but would not call the information tent to correct the error we had made looking for the location where our group had camped.  He said he had to direct traffic.  There must have been no more than two cars every hour at his location.  Finally he relented and called and we were not far from the camp. 


Even with the instructions from the information tent we had problems.  Iowa street” which was on the official map given us by RAGBRAI was marked “23rd street” on the road.  After a back and forth on the bikes we decided "23rd" was "Iowa" by the process of elimination.  We also ran into some cyclist who directed us to the camp site. 


We got our stuff and headed back to find the house where we were staying.  We got a call from our host who said they were heading to the church for dinner.  We told him we were on the way.  We were able to get to the house before they left so we joined them and another quest from Pennsylvania to the church for dinner.  I had to borrow $20 bucks off our host to buy dinner.  We ate and chatted and then headed back to the house.  Our host told me where to find an ATM so we headed off on foot to get some cash. 


The home where we stayed was a beautiful Victorian house.  The kitchen was very large which adjoined the dining room which adjoined the parlor.  Our bedroom was upstairs along a hallway with a very large bathroom on the hallway.  The entire house had beautiful woodwork everywhere and every room had a high ceiling which made the room feel very large. 




......RAGBRAI pass-through town bike decorations....



 DAY 6 -  Ride Across Iowa - Independance to Dyersville - July 27


 ...refreshment was located all along the route...

 ...the activity in the pass-through towns "forced" one to take a break from cycling ...

...Dyersville laid a carpet across the railraod tracks on the way into town...a nice touch

plan for the day - Today’s route, Friday  July 27, is Independence to Dyersville a distance of 65 miles.  The pass-through towns along the route are; Winthrop, Lamont, Dundee, Manchester, and Earlville.


getting start - We got up and dressed in the day's bike outfit.  We stuffed our walking around clothes, PJs, and yesterday's bike outfit into our backpack.  We made an attempt to make the room look presentable and headed downstairs to thank our hosts for a good night.  


After expressing our thanks to our host and hostess we got our bikes from the garage and headed for the campground to drop off the backpack.  The location of the campground was burned into our brains from our failure to locate it the day before. It was located a bit out of town but we made good time. 


When we got to the campground we learned there had been a rain storm during the night.  It had been very windy and there were no happy faces.  We dumped the backpack into our luggage, put our luggage back into the truck and exited the campground on our bikes.  Our decision not to live in a tent on RAGBRAI had been confirmed!      


today’s adventure - We had to ride about 3 miles from the campground to get onto to the day's route.  There was no traffic and we made good time.  There had been no hint of the rain from the night before.  The skies were clear and there was no wind.  The temperature was very pleasant with little humidity.  


We had about 10 miles to ride to Winthrop where we planned to have breakfast.  We located and enjoyed breakfast.  After breakfast we exited Winthrop and continued our RAGBRAI experience.  Along with the day to day decorations along the route, our interaction with the locals walking through the pass-through towns, being amazed by some of the special bicycles, being amused by the unique bike uniforms we also participated in or investigated some of the unique, interesting activities we saw along the route each day.      


Beekman's home made ice cream?  How does one crank out enough "Beekman's" home made ice cream each day to satisfy 15,000 customers?  I remember accompanying my uncle during selection of a watermelon as a young man.  Waiting in line to pay, a customer asked the clerk, "are these home grown watermelons?"  We were standing behind the customer who raised the question but my uncle responded "be assured they were grown at someone's home."  "Beekman's home made ice cream" tasted so good to me that it must have been created in someones home.   


But did 5,000 people spend the day cranking a handle to produce a gallon of ice cream each hour.  I discovered that the ice cream was produced by turning a paddle in a container filled with ice cream ingredients.  But the human had been replaced by an elaborate motor driven "contraption" behind the trailer from which the customers purchased it.  The container was a bit larger than the one my family used but the result of the process produced the same rewarding result.       


I noticed passenger vans with trailers attached parked in some of the pass-through towns along the route.  The trailer was as long as the van and had a bike rack which ran the length of the trailer.  I was told the vans were responsible for picking up cyclist who were stranded because of a bike malfunction.   A stranded cyclist simply had to turn their bike upside down along the route and wait for the van to appear.  The van would deliver the unfortunate cyclist someplace where a solution could be found which could be the next pass-through town or the destination-town for the day.


I had never been passed by the van and assumed that the “shag wagon” followed the last group of riders along the route picking up the stranded riders as they were spotted.  I only saw the vans in towns along the route I was riding on so I had to assume that they took a route parallel to the RAGBRAI route.  They may have been located in the center of the route and were called.  I had not researched how they wee summoned but the phone number may have been provided in some of the literature we received about RAGBRAI.  


I also noticed that some of the towns along the route offered what was called a “beer tent” to entertain cyclist who were so inclined.  It was unclear to me how one could consume a few beers and be trusted to ride a bicycle safely.  I was concerned after seeing the beer tent that there may be a few “drunk” bicyclist on the road with me.  I wanted to enjoy a pleasant experience on my ride across Iowa and I would be a bit upset if I got knocked down by an intoxicated cyclist! 


I was relieved to find out that the beer tent riders also turned their bikes upside down and waited for the “shag wagon.”  This information was passed on to me by a fellow cyclist I met in the destination-town one day who said he was waiting for his friends to arrive on the "shag wagon."  He said they had opted to stop riding and drink at the beer tent and use the "shag wagon" to reach the destination town.  The assumption was that a cyclist knew when it was time to stay off a bike after a few beers. 


As I moved along the road on one of the earlier days of my RAGBRAI experience I passed over the remains of a small animal.  A "plastic, multicolor" necklace was lying near the remains.  I thought one of the cyclist had lost the necklace as they cycled past.  I considered stopping and picking up the jewelry and dropping it off in the next pass-through town or taking it to the information tent at the end of the day's ride.  By the time I had sorted through all of these thoughts I was some distance down the road and decided to pass on the rescue idea.  On my first day of RAGBRAI I had ridden past similar remains and saw the plastic jewelry lying with the remains.


I brought the subject of my jewelry find up while discussing the day's RAGBRAI events with a fellow rider while standing in line to get my spaghetti dinner at the Catholic Church.  I told him what I had seen on the road but I had continued to ride without picking up the necklace.  He told me that my actions were correct.  He said what I had seen was the result of a group of cyclist "who decorates the road kill" that they find along the route with plastic jewelry.  He told me they had been performing this act for several years on RAGBRAI.  It was just another RAGBRAI activity. 


I had seen several more memorials along the road following my discussion with the RAGBRAI veteran.  My experience during today's ride across Iowa had jogged my memory about the ceremonial decoration that I had seen on several days of our trek across Iowa. 


I noticed early in the ride that "many" bikes had a large number of plastic "bands" strung in various places on the frame.  We had been given armbands to wear on our wrists to indicate that we were "authorized" to ride in RAGBRAI.  When I had started the process of joining RAGBRAI I could not believe that there would be more than a few hundred riders on RAGBRAI.  It did not make sense to me that I had to enter a lottery to get in.  Now that I am riding in my first RAGBRAI I realize what a unique State ride that I am participating in.  I would believe that RAGBRAI must be the most unique State ride in the country.  


I was to find out that all of the plastic hanging from the many of the bikes along the route signified a year that the individual had ridden on RAGBRAI.  Many of the bikes had a very large number and maybe the cyclist had many more and there were too many to hang on the bike.  After my days riding on RAGBRAI I can understand why someone would "Ride Across Iowa" many times if not every year.  The experience is truly unique and a "hell" of a lot of fun.         


As we ride along the route each day we would see people, I assume farmers, setting in their front yards near the road waving and encouraging the cyclist as they passed.  I had not noticed anyone in the fields which I assumed meant that the corn was not ready to pick.  The corn was as "high as an elephant's eye" but not quite ready to pick. 


On the fifth day of the ride, however, we entered Amish Country.  We stopped at one of the stands set up in a driveway near the road selling "peanut brittle."  I started to take a picture of the fellow who was selling the "goodies" and he waved me off telling me that he did not want me to take his photograph.  I didn't take the photo.  


The short time we were stopped in front of his farm I became acquainted with a totally different lifestyle.  A buggy passed us leaving to go to town to purchase something.  A second wagon left filled with produce which I would assume was headed for town and market.  And, as we were bicycling along the road a few miles beyond were we had stopped we saw "loose" (not bailed) hay being tossed onto a flat bed wagon.  It was quite a contrast from the large tractors and other farm equipment that we had seen setting near the barns along the route across Iowa.       


As we had done in the other destination-towns on our ride across Iowa we made arraignments to stay at a private home in Drysville on day 6 of our ride.  We had been contacted by our Dryerville hostess before we left home and informed that she had our post ride activities planned. 


Two other cyclist were also staying at "our Drysville home," a husband and wife team whose home town I fail to recall.  When we arrived on our bikes at our home for the evening we were introduced all around and after putting our overnight clothes into our room we were off to the evening's entertainment.     


Our first stop was the farm where the movie "field of dreams" had been filmed.  The experience was quite a surprise.  We had watched the movie but I did not know it had been filmed in Iowa.  That should not be a surprise since I don't know about things that are closer to home than the set of the movie "Field of Dreams." 


We arrived at the location of the filming of "Field of Dreams" and while standing in the cornfield that borders the baseball field in the movie taking pictures, it came alive.  Three fellows dressed as baseball players appeared at the edge of the cornfield.  Of course we asked if they would take a pictue with us which they readily agreed. The photo made our outing very special.


As we rode along the route today we came upon a group of people standing near the road in line near a fellow who was acrively working on something which could not be seen as we approached along the road.  As we got nearer we could read a sign which he had placed near the road which had wrtten on it "Spoke Bracelet."  Not sure what we were being told but not wanting to loose any RAGBRAI experiences we pulled to the shoulder, laid our bikes down and went to take a look.  


Sure enough the sign read "Spoke Bracelet" for 5 bucks.  We watched as he made one the braclets for the person in front of the line.  My wife said she had to have one.  She got in line while I watched him make another.  I was very impressed. 


He pulled a spoke from a container and with nothing more than a pair of pliers made a perfect circle the size of the customers wrist.  He then created a long open loop which was tied with several wraps around the spoke.  The loop was placed over the unthreaded "head" of the spoke which has a small "head" on it which prevents bracelet from opening once it is placed on the wrist.  Just to be clear, the spoke "head" secures the bracelet around the wearer's wrist and holds it on.  He accomplished all of this quickly while talking to the customer and those waiting in line.  


My wife loves the bracelet.  It is bicycling special.  She wears her spoke bracelet almost everyday.  It is a favorite.  In passing I have to add that I have attemted to turn a piece of wire into a circle several times attempting to form a bicycle.  I always windup with a "square" bend somewhere.  It takes talent!     


today’s landscape -  We rode through miles of corn along the RAGBRAI route. 


The Iowa farmers, as I attempt to do, keep their property trimmed up to their property line.  The State of Iowa does the same with the area between the road and the property line.  The daily scene along the route became corn fields with a few soy bean fields here and there.     


Occasionally we found flowers growning along the farmers side of the road.  The State appeared to be more dilligent in their quest to trim everything to a height of two inches but sometimes there were flowers. 


cycling notes -  At the camp site we learned that it had rained very hard during the night.  Since we had stayed in someone's home we were unaware of the storm.  When we rode to the campground the next morning to drop off our clothes at the van we were told sbout the weather.  It had rained very hard but the worst part was the wind. 


The high wind had played havic with the tents.  One woman said the wind had lifted her tent off the ground around her and water had gotten in soaking everything.  I think everyone had a similar experience.  Many of the "tent people" got wet and some had trouble keeping their tents from blowing away.  There were many long faces when we dropped off our gear that morning.  We were happy we avoided the experience. It only rained that one night while we were on RAGBRAI. 


Every past through town and all of the maels at the Catholic Church offered pie for desert.  They must have had 25 varieties and they were all excellent.  Oie is one of my favorites and I "pigged out."  


post ride activity - In Dyersville the campground returned to the center of town.  The site was located next to everything of interest.  We went to the information tent and having learned everyone knows everyone in the small towns in Iowa I asked the person who was helping me if they knew the people we staying with.  She said "yes and that the lady had been so pleased that someone from LA would be staying with them." 


We did not know the movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed on a farm near Dyersville.  The lady at the “information tent” informed us that it had and gave us the directions to the house and then said once you get to this area just look for the signs that indicate this way to the “Field of dreams.” 


We found our house for the evening and met our hosts.  There was a second couple from Iowa staying as well.  The wife of the second couple was also from California.  


They took us to see the farm where the “Field of Dreams” was filmed.  The area was quite large and we walked through taking pictures.  While taking pictures standing at the edge of the corn field in left field of the baseball diamond, suddnly four men dressed in uniforms appeared as had happened in the movie.  Of course we had to have a picture and the graciously agreed.  Its a treasure. 


After Field of Dreams we went to the Catholic Church to eat.  It was huge and Beautiful.  While we waited we saw the lady we had talked to at the information tent.  After she left our Hostess told me that she had to be seated to eat before the ‘information” woman.  Little bit of rivalry there I think.  We successfully won the race to the table.  


The food was great and there was a lot of it.   We went inside the church for a tour after we ate and it was magnificent.  We were told the pope had declared it a Basilica.  After leaving the church our host drove us to the campground to dump our clothes.  We planned to sleep in our riding clothes so we could skip the early morning trip to the campground and eat breakfast with our hosts.  It was dark when we got there and we had a bit of difficult locating it but were successful.  After dumping our stuff we returned to our home for the evening.  Our host and hostess were great.  




 ...I enjoyed the Iowa humor...

 ...every town provided off the bike entertainment...

 ...riding outfits are important on RAGBRAI...

 DAY 7 -  Ride Across Iowa - Dyersville to Bellevue



 ..the Californians on RAGBRAI..

 ...breaking away for the stage win...

 ...talking to my fans...


plan for the day - Today would be our last day of RAGBRAI.  We would complete our ride across Iowa to Bellevue located on the bank of the Mississippi River.  The distance to Bellevue was 57 miles.   


We had signed up with a tour group to ride across the state of Illinois following our RAGBRAI adventure.  We would be picked up in Bellevue in a van and transported to Savanna Illinois at the end of our Iowa riding day.  We would have one rest day before our ride across Illinois would begin.  Our Illinois ride would end at Lake Michigan where we would dip our front bike tires in the Lake signaling the end of our trek across Illinois.  We had been told to meet the Illinois folks in Bellevue at 2 PM. 


getting started - We had slept in our bike clothes.  Our clothes were already on the truck at the campground so we could avoid the early morning ride to the campground.  The lady of the house told us she planned to prepare breakfast for us.  The second couple who had stayed the night at the house would join us for breakfast. 


We were treated to a great breakfast by our hostess.  She served her special “French Toast.”  It was delicious.  Fruit and coffee were added which hit the spot.  The table conversation was RAGBRAI, our visit to Field of Dreams and today's ride.


After breakfast we collected our bikes from the garage, took more pictures, said our goodbyes and started the last leg of the ride from their house.  Fortunately for us the route was close to where we had spent the night.  We rode directly onto the route out of town after we exited the small side road where our host and hostess lived.


today’s adventure - I was in for another RAGBRAI surprise or maybe another learning experience.  The last day on RAGBRAI, Day 7, I discovered was the "Race to the Mississippi River."  As I had been surprised on the first day of RAGBRAI by all of the people, places to eat and decorations along the route which had continued for six days of the ride, I was now struck by the absence of everything.  I quickly learned that the goal for the last day of RAGBRAI is to ride like mad to the final destination town, dip my front bike tire in the Mississippi River and leave for home.  The last day is a sprint to the finish.


Someone had mentioned while we were eating ice cream at Beekman’s the day before that they would not be on the road the following day, the last day of the ride.  What I was being told had not sunk in but now riding without any of the party atmosphere I had grown used to during my week of RAGBRAI I understood.  The party was over.  In fact many of the vendors along the road and all of the stuff in the towns along the way faded as we rode.  Many of the vendors where we had enjoyed food were missing. 


Today the towns along our route had few if any decorations.  Food was available but not in the abundance we found on the other ride days.  The folks supporting the concessions in the towns provided the same impression that they were having a good time and welcomed the bicyclists to their town.  The “pass through” towns on the way to Bellevue provided bike shops, food, drink, but the entertainment was gone. 


The riders on the road continued to ride in lanes acording to their skill level.  Serious riders drafting along in long trains at 25 miles an hour, the 15 mile an hour cyclist to the right of the trains, the group cruising along listening to their own drummer, and the novices cranking slowly along at the edge of the right side of the road.  But today the caravan moved at a very good pace toward the Mississippi River and the conclusion of our goal of completing the Ride Across Iowa, RAGBRAI.


No need to walk through the pass-through towns today.  No stops for corn, watermelon or ice cream along the road.  We could plan to increase our average speed today.  We rode like the wind clipping off the first 25 miles modeling Lance and completed the remaining 32 miles in good order arriving in Belleuve at noon. 


We walked from a park down to the river and dipped our front bike tires in the Mississippi.  We had finished RAGBRAI.  We took photos of the finish sign and dipping our tires in the Mississippi.  We returned to the street and I bought a RAGBRAI coffee cup.  Coffee cups are a tradition of mine to commemorate a ride.   


today’s landscape -  I would describe the landscape along todays route to Bellevue as "rolling."  I assumed the Mississippi River may have been involved in creating the landscape.  There were corn fields but not as huge as we had seen on other days.  There was a lot of green space along the road with many more trees on the horizon.  There were still barns and farm houses along the route but they were spread out futher I thought. 


Without the roadside festivities along the route the cyclist created their own entertainment.  A rider would pull up alongside and after a short distance we would be in a deep discussion about something of interest about the RAGBRAI experience or other bicycling experiences we had.  I found the interchanges interesting and the riding day went by very quickly.  


cycling notes - It was a beautiful sunny day for our final day on RAGBRAI.  The temperature was mild and the wind was nonexistent.  It was a perfect day to go for our best "time to complete a day." If there were any problems concerning the surface of the road I do not remember them.  There were cyclists racing toward the finish strung out from horizon to horizon.     


The absence of entertainment from the Iowa population along the route initiated lots of discussion between the riders on the road.  Our RAGBRAI Team Name, “Seniors On Bikes” SOB's, for example brought comments for the first time.  Twice someone commented on our "logo" as they approached from behind which initiated a discussion as we raced toward the Mississippi!   


My belief that cyclist are a good group of people was reenfored on RAGBRAI.  The fact that the wonderful people of Iowa kept their smiles and supported the people on the road after years of staging RAGBRAI confirmed my belief.  The cyclist were willing to participate, help and support the people supporting them on RAGBRAI and I have found this attiude wherever we ride.  Cyclists are prepared to solve most of the unfortunate hardships that may occur on a bike trip and continue if possible.  The people of Iowa and the cycling community are a good mix and it works.  Thanks Iowa, I really, really enjoyed myself. 


post ride activity - We looked for lunch once we reached Bellevue.  We bought a ground beef sandwich, corn on the cob, and coke.  I missed my Mr Pork Chop!!! We ate in a small park nearby and when we finished we started looking for the location of the our support crew that had supported us on our RAGBRAI adventure.  


On the walk through town looking for our support group my wife bought the last copy at a book store of the new Harry Potter book to read in Savanna, Illinois where we would be staying for the next two evenings.  A rest day was planned for tomorrow before the ride across Illinois began. 


We located the "RAGBRAI support folks" in a park in the center of town.  Our gear was laid out for collection near by.  We collected our luggage and our bike boxes.  We had called the Illinois guy to find out where we would meet.  We would meet across the street a short distance from where we collected our luggage.  The Illinois group had agreed to transport our bike boxes to Chicago. 


We took pictures with the RAGBRAI chief and first lieutenant of the Iowa crew and took our luggage to the street corner where we were to meet the van from the Illinois tour.  The distance from where the buses were located was a 100 feet or less but it was necessary to make a couple of trips to get all our stuff to the pick up area.  The buses would transport the RAGBRAI cyclists back to Omaha after all were aboard where they would catch flights home.  We would ride across Illinois and fly home from Chicago.


The Illinois guy arrived, we loaded our stuff and we  began our Illinois adventure.  First we drove around Bellevue hunting for a guy who wanted to join the Illinois Ride.  After finding him we were off to a motel where two women wanted to hitch a ride back to Chicago.  The van we were riding in was to be taken back to Chicago that night and the two women were going to ride back with it.  There was a back and forth with a second cyclist who was considering the Illinois ride after completing RAGBRAI which delayed our departure as well.  I  was tired and the delay was not appreciated.  The whole thing was a little disorganized.  But, we had completed our RAGBRAI adventure.  It had been a great experience!  On to Chicago!




 ...heading to the Mississippi River to dip the "front" tire of the bike to signal the completion of the bike ride...

 ...dipping our front tire to complete our ride across Iowa to the Mississippi River....

 ...Bellevue Iowa the destination town for the 2007 RAGBRAI...

"car free adventure"