Get ready to see something amazing today.
Sometime this morning, maybe as early as 8 a.m., you will see a bicycle rider or two, then a couple more, traveling into Clinton via Iowa 136.
Then there will be groups of three or four, maybe more...then a steady stream of bicyclists, swelling into large waves of riders who will cruise into town heading toward the Ninth Avenue North boat ramp and the end of their seven-day Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
If you have not seen a portion of this ride before, you will be surprised and downright amazed at the activity today.
I can tell you that with confidence because of what I saw Friday in Anamosa.
Now, I thought I knew what to expect with RAGBRAI. I have friends and family who ride it every year. My former co-worker and friend Ted Schultz has been writing about his travels on RAGBRAI for many years, with those columns shared on the Clinton Herald’s front page.
On Friday, I seized an opportunity to head to Anamosa, the last stop before the ride headed into Clinton, which will serve as this year’s ride endpoint.
Arriving in Anamosa around 8:30 a.m., onlookers saw a few bicyclists here and there ride into town. Then as the minutes turned into hours, the small stream of riders grew until it became wide bands of them...some of them strangers, others made up of clubs who share the time together.
The downtown became packed with riders and their bikes as they sought out food and entertainment and checked out the local establishments.
It was a day of fun, punctuated by tired, yet excited, riders and their colorful jerseys as they stood and moved — oftentimes shoulder to shoulder — up and down the town’s Main Street. The strains of patriotic music as played by a full band also swirled above the noise of the crowd, creating a hometown atmosphere.
No doubt, Clinton residents will have the chance to see the same thing today as RAGBRAI riders head into and spend time in Clinton.
This is a sight to see and an experience that should not be missed.
The atmosphere is friendly and as I noticed, the riders are happy to greet and talk with onlookers. Waving as they come into town, riders are quick to say hi to those lining the streets.
They also are kind to each other. I saw one young woman wipe out on her bicycle as she rode down Main Street. Many others came to her aid, made sure she was OK, and shared a few laughs with her.
Those same riders also at times want to be pointed to where the nearest restaurant is, or want to know where something is located. Often, a rider would ask those walking nearby whether they were from town as they sought assistance.
I was sorry that I didn’t have an answer to help them.
Clinton residents will have the chance to get involved, answer those questions, wave at the riders, take in the sights and even share in what vendors have to offer to make the day special.
Today is that day.
Have fun with it!
Charlene R. Bielema has been employed with the Clinton Herald since June 1995. She has been the Herald’s editor since 2002.
Get ready to see something amazing today.
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