Professor and former WQAD-TV reporter Alan Sivell is biking RAGBRAI and blogging for LMQC about it this year. You can follow his adventure right here!
At 1:33, many RAGBRAI-ers woke up as rain began pelting their tents. At 1:34, many more woke up as the zip, zip, z-i-i-i-p-p-p-ing of rain flies reverberated through out the until-then quiet campground. It rained the rest of the night and if riders didn’t cover it, they had one soggy seat in the morning.
There was a bit of a rain break at 6:30, the time a majority of riders get on the road. But another front was coming and it couldn’t be outrun.
About 7:30 it started raining again, but luckily Newell, the first town out of Storm Lake, was ready for a large breakfast party.
The kids on the Fonda-Newell athletic teams were serving omelets in a very impressive operation. The moms collected money at the start of the line, and the football coach kept an eye on things further in. The kids made the omelets. It was a long line, but it moved quickly. And the money went to a good cause.
Back on the road, it wasn’t long before the rain stopped and the riders began drying out.
Today was about the same length as yesterday, 75-80 miles, depending on where your campsite was in Storm Lake. But it was flat for the most part with the downhills greatly out numbering the uphills. It was a relatively easy day – if riding a bike 75 miles can be considered easy.
But because you could make so much time, it allowed for more stops. And while RAGBRAI is about the ride, it is just as much about the stops.
There are so many places to stop, from the towns officially designated as stops to the folks with pickup trucks at the dirt road intersections selling everything from Gatorade (there is so much out here, there must be a shortage in the rest of the state. And in major league baseball, for that matter.) to dill pickles.
I haven’t felt the urge for one of those yet.
I did stop at a fundraiser for the Pocahontas Ambulance service at the farmhouse of one of the nurses. Great lemonade and FROZEN GRAPES! Wow! I’ve discovered a new treat. And a way to extend the life of those grapes I buy and never eat.
The pride Iowans have for their hometowns was obvious everywhere we stopped. Everyone had put in months of preparation for this one day, this one 15-30 minute impression they could make on the riders of RAGBRAI.
Many towns had people welcoming you. Manson actually had people at the edge of town thanking you for coming!
You couldn’t help but be moved by how thankful these towns were for the economic injection RAGBRAI brings. You couldn’t help feel the joy that was there in these wee places, far from the hustle and bustle and business of the Interstate. Today was a day that the kids of Newell, Fonda, Manson and Clare (I’m missing one) will tell their kids about.