FORT MADISON — RAGBRAI 2013 is in the books.
I finished up the 407-mile Register’s Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa on Saturday with a 63-mile journey from Fairfield to Fort Madison.
We awoke Saturday morning to unseasonably cool temperatures (me, being a lover of the heat, would call the conditions downright freezing). Most riders wore jackets to start the ride, but not me since I knew I’d be stripping it off within 5 miles. So I just toughed it out for the early part.
The combined 22 miles to Birmingham and Keosauqua were relatively flat and fast, though the fast part was tempered a bit since the route was so crowded. Riders really had to be careful to make sure they paid attention to where fellow riders were, or risk an accident.
Keosauqua is a beautiful community and one of the Villages of Van Buren (I wonder if the residents are called the Village People)? The community is the site of the state’s oldest courthouse.
Also in this community I ran into Rob, a guy I met a few years ago and recognized by his Chicago Blackhawks’ bike jersey. We ended up riding the rest of the day together.
It was another 11 miles through the historic communities of Bentonsport and Bonaparte, areas I know well from my past ventures on Bike Van Buren. It’s also there I saw my good buddies Ben and Brad, guys I met on RAGBRAI back in 2009 and spent some time with on this one (they even spent the night at our place when RAGBRAI went through Grinnell in 2011).
The ride between these communities was quite hilly, but once we began the 20-mile ride to West Point, the road flattened out and we cruised.
A place in West Point advertised free pulled pork sandwiches, and I gladly grabbed not one but two. I even said to the server, “How dare you give something away for free on RAGBRAI when we’re used to being shaken down by so many other vendors?” Those around me got a good laugh out of that.
Then it was a mere 11 miles to the finish in Fort Madison. I can’t describe the feeling you get when you know you’re heading downhill toward the Mississippi River valley, but it’s awesome.
Entering Fort Madison, we were greeted by a biker with a keyboard on his handlebars and playing the William Tell Overture (Lone Ranger song). I was this guy back in Knoxville and he was playing the Rocky song, as well as others (thankfully not while riding).
Then it was on to the dipping site in the Mississippi River, and just like that, RAGBRAI was done.
After that I hopped on my bus back to Grinnell, got home and crashed. Any RAGBRAI rider will agree it’s nice to sleep in your own bed, shower in your own shower and use your own bathroom.
Thanks for taking time to read my columns. It was a great time.
Ted Schultz rides RAGBRAI every year and is a former Sports Editor of the Clinton Herald.