Updated: Jul 8, 2021
The logistics of being a host community for RAGBRAI must be overwhelming. I have no experience from which to judge, but I have to believe Denison hit this one out of the park. From traffic control to information stations, signage, shuttles and entertainment, I was impressed. Of course, there was that free bacon.
I woke at 3 AM Monday to a symphony of snoring from neighboring tents. I waited patiently until 4:45 to pack up so as not to prematurely disrupt my neighbors excellent rest. Jerry and I rode together again, departing southeast out of Denison at 5:50 AM into a landscape worthy of another Iowa postcard. The biggest road hazard was all the bikers pulling over to snap pictures of the sunrise.
Sunday was our shortest distance, Monday was our longest at 71.7 miles. It also had the most elevation change at 2,527 feet. It gave us an opportunity to use all our gears.
We rode 19 miles to Aspinwall, population 40, where we fueled our ride with sugar and carbs (A.K.A. pancakes).
Some of today’s sightings include unicycles, recumbents, three wheeled bikes of every configuration, a hand peddled bike, someone riding barefoot, a woman who appears to be jogging RAGBRAI and helmets of every configuration. I stopped to take a picture of “Team Bone” from the quad cities. They had very large bones affixed to the top of their helmets.
At 7:30 AM we rode into Manning, a tidy and charming German town, where numerous placards announced, “FREE BEER”. I did say it was a German town, right? In Manning I spotted my friend Ron Kiel, a perennial RAGBRAI participant and the subject of scorn in my introductory article.
There were some good photo op’s in Manning; The Iowa sign at Trestle Park, Freedom Rock, and the Hausbarn.
Onward to Templeton, where the greeting sign said, “Take a shot, it’s what we do here.” Templeton became famous in the prohibition era for their “Templeton Rye.” Legend has it that gangster Al Capone was both a consumer and distributor. In 2001 the distillery re-opened, and it in 2006, Templeton Rye became legal on shelves for the first time. The distillery has fueled a community resurgence and a 34,000-sf distillery and museum along with a 55,000-barrel aging warehouse will be completed this summer.
We wheeled through Dedham, on into Coon Rapids. Coon Rapids is most known for Roswell "Bob" Garst who developed hybrid corn seed in 1930’s. In 1959 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev came to visit Garst. This diplomacy became known as, “Peace Through Corn.”
As we departed Coon Rapids a line of mischievous seniors seated in front the senior living facility shot us with water cannons. Only on RAGBRAI!
Along the route we came across a stand for Beekman’s Specialty Homemade Icecream. They churn it with old fashioned “hit and miss” engines. I was told before I left that it was a RAGBRAI tradition. So, who am I to break tradition? I had a large.
When we rolled through Scranton, the P.A. announcer said that RAGBRAI co-founder Donald Kaul had passed just a few minutes earlier. It seems fitting he would pass on a beautiful day for RAGBRAI.
Just before entering Jefferson we were treated to a beautiful view of the North Racoon River.
I’m out to explore or eat my way through Jefferson. Perhaps I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.