Riders share their stories
Tue, 08/01/2017 - 11:16am admin
Marcie Klomp News Editor email@example.com
CRESCO - “Thanks for hosting.”
“It’s almost over. I feel like crying.”
“Supporting local organizations.”
“This is so organized.”
Those are just a few of the phrases heard over and over from some of the RAGBRAI® (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) riders who visited Northeast Iowa and Cresco on July 27.
Visitors, especially out-of-staters, are amazed by the friendliness of Iowans, who take being a good neighbor for granted.
• “You throw a heck of a party!” Grant Russel of Findlay, Ohio said. He was riding with a team out of Fort Dodge that has been together for 35 years for his first experience with RAGBRAI.
His biggest regret is that he didn’t do this sooner. He finally got talked into riding by his friend of 30 years, who had been riding for many years. In addition, he learned about the event from his sister, who lived in Des Moines for a while.
“This is amazing. This is indescribable. RAGBRAI is the best PR for the state of Iowa!” Russel said. He admitted his favorite movie is “The Music Man,” which takes place in Mason City.
One of the most amazing parts of RAGBRAI, he said was the people. In New Hampton, his group set up on a side street for lunch. “A lady about 80 years old came out of her house and said we could use her patio. Then she gave us a tour of her house and let us go to the bathroom. Everyone has been good-natured and nice.”
The Findlay councilman noted, “If you took 100 senators and had them ride one day, more would get done in Washington, D.C.!”
Russel was prepared for the ride as he had 900 miles on his bike this spring, although a person still gets some aches. “But with the friendliness of the people of Iowa, you sorta forget how sore your butt is!”
• Mike and Val Meddock of Kalamazoo, Mich. have been riding 12 and nine years respectively. Mike said, “This is one week of the year that restores my faith in humanity. It’s my favorite week of the year. People are just too friendly!”
Val enjoys seeing the same people from their team, Whiners, who number 118 this year and have been together for 40 years. She also enjoys getting reacquainted with riders from different teams. “You just pick up where you left off.”
Mike is impressed with the people of Iowa. “It’s an amazing week. You go to different parts of the state. The people are real!” He says he promotes RAGBRAI to everyone. “It’s gotta be on your bucket list! People say to me, ‘You vacation in Iowa?’ I tell them ‘Don’t knock it till you’ve done it!’”
The couple, like many folks on the week-long bicycle ride, try to support the local businesses and organizations as much as they can.
• Tim Schuld and Dave Behls of Chicago were on their fourth year of riding RAGBRAI. Schuld explained, “We started biking back home and wanted to do something bigger and better . . . to have bigger challenges.” They were riding for the Crohn’s Foundation.
Schuld added RAGBRAI is “one of the biggest spectacles in the world.” And the two friends would know—they’ve been to the Indy 500 and watched the space shuttle take off. “We’ve been to a lot of big events in the world, and this is right up there.”
Behls said, “What America is, is what this is. It shows there is hope.”
One of Schuld’s favorite visions of his travels on RAGBRAI are simple. “People like to show off their tractors. They will be lined up along the road. I like that.”
• Mary Jo Peairs of Ohio was traveling with her brother and a friend. RAGBRAI XLV was her first experience. “I have a goal of riding through every state. I think everyone who likes to ride bike should go on RAGBRAI.” Last year she went on BRAN (Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska), which only attracted 500-1,000 riders. “There’s nothing like this (RAGBRAI).”
Peairs has enjoyed all the food along the way, including pie, homemade ice cream, pork chops, kolaches (“those little pastries in [Protivin]”), and bowls of fresh blue berries with peaches and plums. “That really tasted good. You can’t ride more than a couple miles without someone selling something. The other day, some people were selling brats and corn and let us sit on their lawn.”
Visitors were given the opportunity to leave messages for the community. Some of those comments included:
“My favorite overnight town.” ~ Princess “S”
“You guys know how to party! ~ Mike & Sara, Dubuque, Iowa
“Thanks for the mileage signs! Love this town:)” ~ Team Jackhammer
“Thanks for a great time, Cresco! (Those hills though . . . )
“Friendly ghouls. Lots of porta potties. Great town participation. Thanks!” ~ Dubuque, Iowa
“Great job, Cresco! Very friendly, organized and welcoming!” ~ Eau Claire, Wis.
“Awesome. Very creative!”
Most folks take living in rural America for granted, so it is nice to be reminded how great it is to be an Iowan.