The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 21, 2013

Trek takes riders to Harlan

By Ted Schultz Special to the Herald
The Clinton Herald

---- — HARLAN — What could have proved to be a day with some difficulties on RAGBRAI turned out to be a piece of cake.

There were rumors that Sunday’s opening day of the Register’s Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa could be filled with thunderstorms.

But instead, riders were greeted by pleasant weather conditions as we worked the 55-mile route from Council Bluffs to Harlan.

Sunday morning began oddly when I woke up at 3:15 a.m. to the sounds of a tent being dismantled a short distance away. My neighbor had told me the night before he likes to get on the road early during RAGBRAI, but seriously??? 3:15 a.m.??? It would be dark the first few hours of the ride.

About an hour later I awoke again to the sounds of thunder, as well as some lightning. I stayed in my tent until about 4:45 and thought, “If I don’t get my stuff packed up now, I’ll be doing it in a pouring rain.”

I not only got it packed up in quick fashion, but the clouds and rain stayed to the south, it appeared.

It was a beautiful view leaving Council Bluffs, where a look to the left gave riders a wonderful glance of the Omaha, Neb., downtown skyline across the Missouri River.

A bit later we began climbing a hill…and climbing…and climbing. It wasn’t the steepest hill I’ve ever encountered, but maybe the longest. Seemed like it was never going to end.

From there it was a flat 11 miles to Weston, which I’m not sure is even a town, and then another five miles to Underwood. The curiosity of riders was aroused when signs kept popping up, “Sasquatch Crossing, 5 miles,” Sasquatch Crossing, 3 miles,” etc.

When we arrived in Underwood, there were at least three signs or references to Sasquatch, as well as a stand where three girls were handing out samples of Jack Link’s Jerky. Then it made sense (the Messin’ with Sasquatch commercials … one of the girls told me there is a Jack Link’s distribution plant in Underwood, thus the connection).

Later, I was told, Sasquatch was there to greet riders. The things I miss when I get on the road too early.

From there it was a combined 17 miles to Neola, Minden and Shelby. And that’s where things went from a nice, flat, ride to somewhat hilly.

Between Minden and Shelby I saw within a mile four smart roadside vendors and one not so smart.

The not so smart one had set up a stand selling water at the bottom of a hill that led into a steep uphill. I have trouble believing anybody is going to give up the momentum of a fast downhill ride to grab water.

A bit later, four high -schoolish girls were promoting their roadside stand while wearing the prom dresses their moms wore back in the day. I have no idea the connection between any of that, but they sure did stand out and I’m sure did great business! RAGBRAI vendors, take a tip from this ingenuity and uniqueness.

Shelby had the best food offering of the day, ham balls on a stick. From there it was a combined 15 miles into Tennant and then to Harlan.

Tomorrow we head to Perry, the longest day on our trip. Hopefully the weather is nice.

Check in later.