Thank you, Ted Schultz (former Clinton Herald sports editor), for offering some time to write about the grand-daddy of all bike rides. I'm Rod Schultz, Camanche High School Class of '86 (Happy 25th) , and Ted and I work together at Grinnell College. My day started in Altoona, after surviving a warm night thanks to my battery fan. Too hot to rain; that's been the story. However, the packs of riders have been leaving earlier every day to beat the heat. The rolling hills rought a good stretch to the legs with the sun mostly hidden behind the clouds. I could only roll so many miles before stopping for a famous Farm Boys breakfast burrito at a farm house. It was fantastic to eat on the hillside watching the bikes fly by towards Colfax. Storms were looming on the horizon but spirits were high. Colfax was bustling with activity and the usual breakfast crowd. But "Mt. Colfax" was waiting as people left the downtown area to go west, up and away. Tough climb!
We cruised north towards Baxter and really had to challenge the legs with the hills. Crossing the Chichauqua Trail, we turned east into Baxter and had a cool tailwind to carry us there. Of course the winds of change arrived, the rain ever so slightly came down and we switched to a crosswind. Baxter pulled people to their downtown area where I had the pleasure of talking with an engineer from Hamburg, Germany, and a travel agent from Finland. Yes, RAGBRAI is a diverse, international ride in the middle of the U.S.
My main purpose for this great ride is to work with our Grinnell College alumni, students, parents and close friends, on our Team Grinnell as well as those riding with other squads. So as we rode through the showers and realized that the earth is not flat, I thought about the group and realized this hearty "Iowa band" is completing an adventure together, not just solo.
As I neared the bottom of a hill on Hwy. F27, I looked south across Rock Creek State Park Lake to see my housing development on the other end. But now I was in familiar territory as this is my training grounds. I upped the tempo and looked forward to Grinnell. Volunteers were out in full force welcoming the crowd and showing them to the high school and two other locations for their camps. Fast-forward to now, just before midnight. I'm back at home for the evening, washing those tough clothes, and looking back at our events on Grinnell College campus. We camped on our north field and then enjoyed a reception and dinner for 150, as well as an all alumni swim in our new athletic center (where Ted works).
Before driving home, I had to check out the downtown scene which looks like a cruise ship landed in the middle of the state fair. Yes, the town rolled out the red carpet.
It has been a real joy to see the Riverbend Bicycle Club. I started my passion back in the early 1980s under the guidance of Mary Shanks. She was a warm person and a driven cyclist.
Rod Schultz is the Managing Associate Director of Development with Grinnell College.