Riding RAGBRAI XLIII
A Bicycle Ride Across IowaRAGBRAI is the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. The 2015 ride was the 43rd annual ride. A 467 mile ride from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River. It started with John Karras and Don Kaul writers for the Des Moines Register. The story of their first ride in 1973 is at the RAGRBRAI website. I met John Karras and his wife in Radcliffe, Iowa July 21st. Radcliffe was on a loop named for Mr. Karras. It added enough miles to change Day 3 from Fort Dodge to Eldora in to an almost 100 mile day instead of the regular routes 72.9 mile. I told a rider from Des Moines on the way to Radcliffe that it was amazing what I would do to earn another patch.
Just as that first ride, this year started in Sioux City, Iowa on the Missouri River. Early Saturday morning, July 18 my wife drove me to Davenport, Iowa to meet a charter bus arranged by Pork Belly Ventures. They had semi-trucks for bicycles and buses for people and gear. Just after 8:30am we pulled away, heading for western Iowa. The bus took I-80 so it was not a prview of the bicycle ride to come.
Sunday morning riders dip their rear wheel in the Missouri River, the "west coast" of Iowa as they begin their ride from Sioux City to Davenport. Volunteers speed the process, taking pictures of riders ready to pedal east toward the hills and corn fields of Iowa. First riders must wind their way through the throng of other riders waiting to dip their wheels or gathering to ride with friends.
With thousands of registered riders it takes time to get to the streets to work your way out of Sioux City. Cones were set in place to mark the right lane for cyclists. It was like a slow parade. Eventually, it was possible to get around slower cyclists. When the bunch arrives at a town, everyone slows down again.
Bicycle Traffic Slows in Every Town
Local churches, clubs and boosters for various causes sell water, Gatoraide, pie, snacks, and meals in every town on the route. Each town
is decorated, many with special arrangements for parking bicycles. The main street and others are shut down to accommodate the plethora of riders.
Some towns had a band playing in the park. Parkersburg had a group playing jazz. They were very good and I enjoyed listening to them as I sat in the shade.
When I was a boy growing up in Iowa, we sang a song, just a chorus that ended "We're from I-o-way, I-o-way, That's were the tall corn grows." I wanted to have a picture of me with corn that was about 9 feet tall. Leaving Walcott, as I neared Davenport, I found a convenient spot.
I will be adding more of my reflections on RAGBRAI. Your next opportunity is RAGBRAI XLIV July 24, 2016. You can find more information at the Official RAGBRAI site.
Links of Interest