INDEPENDENCE _ Hills and flats, urban areas and country roads.

Thursday's 63 mile stage of RAGBRAI 2007 had it all.

We began the day of the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in Cedar Falls, far and away the largest overnight stop of the tour.

Riding with my brothers-in-law John and Larry, we were greeted by flat roads and a beautiful sunrise as we exited town a bit after 6 a.m.

The 18 mile ride to Denver went relatively smooth until a series of hills just before Denver _ the most we've seen on the 2007 route so far _ were a huge reminder that Iowa is anything but flat.

Unlike the mile-high city of Denver, Colo., a sign proclaimed Iowa's Denver to be the mile-WIDE town.

After that it was seven miles to Klinger, not really a town but a stop, and nine more miles to Dunkerton.

Larry had planned on only doing a portion of the ride and turned off back towards Cedar Falls, where he lives, on the way to Dunkerton.

We stopped in Dunkerton for a short time before biking another 10 miles to Fairbank.

We got a good laugh at the beverage garden where, just above a wagon to dispose of empties, were drawings of George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton.

You were instructed to throw at either one of the drawings, where the plastic bottle would bounce off and into the wagon.

Needless to say, I threw a pretty good fastball (or fastbottle) at one of the two.

From there it was 14 miles to Otterville, a journey that involved a ride down Fairbank-Amish Boulevard.

As the name states, several Amish families have farms along the highway and many were selling food and beverage.

None of the homes had electricity going to them, but they all had beautiful gardens and yards.

We stopped at one place and I had some excellent peanut butter cookies, made fresh just that morning by the girls selling them.

We later saw a horse and buggy traveling down the highway, something that happens quite often if you look at the tracks on the shoulder and edge of the road.

The trip from Fairbank to Independence, which included the pass-through town of Otterville (I have no idea when we even went through that since it was so small) was a total of 18.5 miles.

On Friday it's on to Dyersville before concluding with a journey to Bellevue.

I'll check in then.

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