After a monstrous climbing day on the opening day of RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), how could Monday’s second day be tougher?
How about 400 more feet of climbing than the day before? Monday’s 65-mile route from Atlantic to Carroll saw riders work their way up more than 4,700 feet of hill. Luckily, most of that was during the first 36 miles between Atlantic and Manning, so we got the worst out of the way early.
First, let me backtrack. I had a fun time in Atlantic on Sunday, getting the chance to visit friends and see places. I was able to go inside the Atlantic News-Telegraph, where I worked for 5 1⁄2 years, and also went by my old apartment (dumpy back then, even dumpier now. As if that’s even possible ...).
I also had a nice visit with Don Jenkins and his wife, Nancy. When I was in Atlantic, Don coached girls basketball and volleyball and I went to their house many evenings after games. During those times, their kids would often jump into my lap to read to them when I arrived (I also got to be pretty good at finding Waldo during those times). I got a chance to see one of their girls (Angie) during my visit and she’s now in her mid-20s and teaches and coaches in Waterloo. Wow, how time flies.
Having traveled north out of Atlantic many times during my days there, I knew plenty of hills were awaiting us on Monday.
The journey began with rides to a pair of communities that boast their Danish heritage, Elk Horn and Kimballton (a combined 18 miles). Kimballton’s big attraction is the Little Mermaid fountain in Hans Christian Andersen Park, and about a block from there you could get your photo taken with a live mermaid (actually somebody dressed up as one).
From there it was another 20 miles to Manning, where we continued to endure some hills including some huge ones.
After Manning, things flattened out considerably as we rode 8 miles to Templeton. The big draw in Templeton, of course, is the Templeton Rye Distillery. That whiskey dates back to the days of prohibition. I saw many people pulling their bikes in for free samples.
The trip continued another 7 miles to Dedham, 5 more to Willey and to finish things off an 8-mile cruise into Carroll.
Today things flatten out big time as we ride to Boone. That will be welcomed by many riders, and hopefully the weather remains rain-free. Well, I’ll check in later.
Ted Schultz is Grinnell College’s Sports Information Director and former Sports Editor of the Clinton Herald.