It’s hard to believe — RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) is over for 2011.
We concluded the week-long 452-mile route with a 65-mile ride from Coralville to Davenport on Saturday.
I admit I was quite fortunate to spend yet another night indoors on Friday night. Ben and Brad, guys I had met a few years ago on RAGBRAI, had secured a place in Iowa City and invited me to spend the evening. So instead of roasting outdoors, I had some nice air conditioning and a good shower before we headed to a restaurant for a nice dinner. When we got back, I grabbed a couch and slept like a rock.
Saturday began with a 10-mile pedal to West Branch, where Ben, Brad and I made a short stop before heading a combined 23 miles to Wilton where again we stopped, only for a longer time.
During the ride to Wilton, I saw the first sign of RAGBRAI coming to an end. As we passed over Interstate 80, I noticed all kinds of support vehicles and buses working their way to our end city, Davenport, to meet riders.
The Wilton FFA had a nice area set up where they displayed various animals including a goat, cow and piglet. I even successfully milked the cow.
From there it was six miles to Durant, where I lived while working as editor of the Wilton-Durant newspaper several years ago. We were greeted by Polka Bear as we entered town, and I got a chance to give him a hand slap (or would that be paw slap?). Regardless, it had to be BRUTALLY hot in that bear suit. The bear, by the way, is a longtime mascot of the town’s annual Polka Festival.
Speaking of festivals, people were living it up another eight miles down the road in Walcott. That town was having a German Oktoberfest event for riders they were calling Walctoberfest.
After that it was another 14 miles to Davenport, where we dipped our tires in the Mississippi River to mark the end of another RAGBRAI. The dipping area was green with algae due to flooding along the river. To commemorate the end, I asked a girl on roller skates with a “volunteer” tag to take my picture (she was on skates, she said, since she is a member of the local roller derby team).
One subject I’d meant to bring up in my columns, but was saving, was the bicycle jersey I wore a majority of the week. It is yellow in color and has a picture of a big yellow Labrador retriever on the front and back. The picture looks exactly like my big goofball Lab named Archie, whom we acquired from the Clinton Humane Society in 2007.
I heard dozens of comments during the ride (things like “nice of you to take your dog on the ride with you” to “awwww ... cute puppy”). A guy in my campground even pulled me aside and said, “I have heard more comments about that jersey than any other during this year’s ride.” I’m wondering if this will begin a jersey trend for future RAGBRAIs? Hard to say.
Well, it’s been fun writing about RAGBRAI again for the Clinton Herald. I hope you enjoyed my columns, and I hope to be back in touch in 2012!
Ted Schultz is a former Clinton Herald sports editor. He currently is the sports information director at Grinnell College.