With a combination of basically no hills, no bad weather and no serious head wind, Wednesday's day of RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) was a breeze.
The 56-mile ride from Boone to Altoona was pretty simple for many bicyclists, and Altoona was buzzing with thousands of riders by early afternoon.
I'll take you back first to Tuesday night in Boone. My wife, Marsha, her brother and fiancee, John and Brenda, met me to attend that night's main entertainment, Hairball. A tribute to the hair bands of the 70s and 80s, I saw this act for the first time in Chariton two years ago on RAGBRAI and was entranced. Tuesday's performance didn't disappoint anyone either, as it began with a wonderful Gene Simmons impersonator and then to Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame.
At the show, I had another Clintonian sighting as I talked with Doug Rempfer for a bit!
Wednesday's ride began with a nine-mile trek to Luther, where riders were greeted with a sign in a yard stating “Landscaped by homeowners ... no stimulus money/government assistance.” This is hilarious and probably the best sign I'll see on all of RAGBRAI!
From there it was 14 miles to Slater (every time I hear the name of that town I think of the TV show “Saved by the Bell”), where we got to ride on the smoothest road we've ridden all week, plus it had a bike lane on the side. It was another two miles to Sheldahl, where we met up with the High Trestle Trail. We didn't ride the trail, just beside it, during an eight-mile trip to Alleman (this town's name also makes me think of something, my junior high gym class days when we had to square dance ... there is a term, and I have no clue what it means, called “allemande.”). Anyway, we went another five miles to White Oak, though I'm not sure when we went through it, and another four miles to Elkhart and nine more to Bondurant. Bondurant had a nice party going on for riders, including a great solo act by Brad Morgan. He mixed a good variety of good old songs and some country stuff, and I was pretty impressed.
From there it was a mere five miles to Altoona. Instead of camping, I stayed with Jay Rickertsen and his family.
Like me, Jay used to work at the Clinton Herald, which is where I got to know him. I appreciate the hospitality and it will be nice to sleep in a bed and get a real shower!
I will be taking a day off writing tomorrow as Camanche native Rod Schultz writes about our trip from Altoona to Grinnell, and then I'll return with the column for Saturday's paper. I'll check in later.
Ted Schultz is a former Clinton Herald sports editor and is currently the sports information director with Grinnell College.