CLINTON — The Fah family has been moving people since 2004, but it wasn’t until 2009 that Argo Moving expanded into the bicycle business.
When the Riverbend Bicycle Club in Clinton needed someone to transport its bikes and gear, it turned to the professional movers in the Quad-Cities, said Jonathan Fah.
“Riverbend Bicycle Club has had us come back every year,” Fah said.
The family-owned business was already moving people and businesses, so it knew all the requirements for providing such a service. “They didn’t have to worry about it,” said Fah. “I move people’s belongings every day.”
Argo-Riverbend Bicycle Club is one of 15 charter services listed on the official Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa website. “We always load at the end town the day before RAGBRAI starts,” Fah said. This year, that’s Saturday, July 24 in Clinton.
Riders will park their cars in long-term parking, board a charter bus in Clinton and let Argo Moving transport their bikes across the state to Le Mars in time for opening day Sunday.
In Le Mars, riders will pick up their bikes and the Fahs will load their baggage, driving ahead of the cyclists each day to the campsite in each overnight town.
“As a charter service, ... we organize with the towns ahead of time, so I know our camping location in each town already,” said Fah.
The company takes care of everything from registering riders, to hauling gear and finding overnight accommodations. Argo provides canopies for shade, folding chairs to sit on, charging stations for cell phones and other electronics and coolers filled with Gatorade and water.
This year Argo will provide support for 250 bikes with a staff of seven. The Quad Cities Bicycle Club used volunteers to make their arrangements in previous years, said Fah, but they’ll use Argo this year.
“The bicycles take up quite a bit of space in the trucks,” said Fah. Argo will use 26-foot box trucks, similar to moving vans. Fah estimates about 80 or 90 bikes per truck.
Argo is adding a restroom trailer with six bathrooms and six showers this year. “Technology’s getting better as far as the showers go,” said Fah, and charter services have stepped up the level of service they provide.
Communication is easier than in the past because of improved cell-phone service. Argo still posts notes and signs on electric poles so riders will know where their camp is located, Fah said, but he can also send them GPS coordinates on their phones.
Fah has moved RAGBRAI riders for 11 years, he said. His wife has helped five or six years, and his brothers have nearly 11 years between the two of them, Fah said.
“We have a lot of experience doing it. We really love the whole [event],” said Fah.
“One of my favorite things about RAGBRAI is everyone rides their own RAGBRAI,” Fah said. Riders can be as young as 8 or as old as 78. People with disabilities ride. Some people make it a race and ride as fast as they can from point to point. Others take it slowly and nap under trees along the way.
“At the end of the day, they all had a good day,” said Fah. “My job is to make sure they have a home at the end of the day.”
Fah says the phrase Iowa Nice is a true description of the people in the state. Each of the towns RAGBRAI passes through is polishing its town squares. “They’re showing themselves off,” Fah said. “They’re showing their towns.”
And that shows off the state of Iowa.
Fah accompanied a RAGBRAI pre-ride crew from DeWitt to Clinton earlier this year, he said. People on the ride were amazed at the number of bike paths found in rural Iowa, he said.
Whether RAGBRAI has fostered the bicycle mentality across the state or whether it grew up on its own is in question, but the truth of it is not.
“It’s really a great place to ride a bike,” Fah said.