The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 26, 2012

RAGBRAI riders push through heat, winds

Route will lead to Anamosa today, end in Clinton on Saturday

By Ted Schultz
Special to the Herald

MARSHALLTOWN — After a rugged day on RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) Tuesday, things got easier for riders the following day — but only by a bit.

Maybe it was the effects of Tuesday's tough ride, maybe it was the 115-degree heat bouncing off the pavement, but Wednesday's ride was not a picnic.

We began the 77.1-mile journey in Webster City, which contrary to popular belief is not named after that little kid from the 80s sitcom (remember, Alex Karras was his dad?).

We had heard instead of a strong east wind that we endured Tuesday, on Wednesday it would come from the southwest. That proved to be true, though it started pretty lightly early in the day and built to heavy by the late morning.

It was a 12-mile pedal to Kamrar and another 10 miles to Jewell. From there we rolled onto Ellsworth and Story City. During this journey we received welcome relief from a dairy company distributing free milk and orange juice. It was shortly after that I saw, for the fourth day in a row, a fire truck with the back hollowed out to create a wood fire oven. It was in there they would bake pizzas to order for hungry riders.

Story City was a great stop as it boasts a 99-year-old antique carousel. They even fired it up so riders could take a spin (literally). For nearly being a century old, that thing moved pretty fast.

After that, it was six-mile journeys to Roland and McCallsburg and a five-mile trip to Zearing. One of the interesting events Zearing offered were goldfish races, which were to be held in regular roof gutters. Interesting.

It was another eight miles to St. Anthony, and when the route turned south riders could definitely tell the wind was going to be a battle as well as an assortment of hills. A mere three miles later was Clemons, the next-to-last stop before Marshalltown.

Clemons had a fun feature, something on the lines of a dunk tank. Only on this, "victims" sat on a bench underneath a platform holding a toilet. Then entrants would throw balls at a big red target (like a dunk tank), and when it was hit, the toilet would splash the "victim" with a huge amount of water. Again, interesting. But people were having a lot of fun with it.

The last 17 miles to Marshalltown were pretty difficult, because the trip included some riding into strong winds and the heat was really starting to pick up. I think I stopped three times alone to chug some water before moving on.

On a side note, I always find it interesting to hear all the "RAGBRAI rumors" during the trip. Those are things various riders tell, and you never know what's true or not. Things I've heard are one rider has died so far, three have died, a big group of people had a big crash and broke bones, and a mountain lion ate a rider in a rare attack. OK, that last one I made up in order to contribute to the rumor mill and have a good laugh in the process.

Well, Thursday it's the longest day of RAGBRAI as we make an 84.8-mile journey to Cedar Rapids. I'll check in later.

Ted Schultz is the former Sports Editor of the Clinton Herald.