This post is going to be hard to get across but let me try to convey it to you. For those reading that are not familiar with RAGBRAI, it is the Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, started in 1973 as a 6 day ride across the state by two Des Moines Register columnists who thought they were inviting just a few friends along but about 120 people made the trek that year. The next year there were 2000 then the number grew to 10,000. This year it is said the number is more like 18,000 riders from every state and many foreign countries. The enormity and scope of the amount of all those people on bicycles is whats hard to convey in pictures or words. It's like a Jimmy Buffet concert, " you had to be there". We, meaning Bill Hamilton, Ruth Glick,
Cindy and myself started in Des Moines and rode to the start of the ride in Rock Valley then rode to Mason City for a total of 526 miles. If we were to just do Rock Valley to Guttenberg not riding from Des Moines we would have done 468 miles. On the way we stayed in motels. Once on the ride we stayed in homes of people in host towns that Ruth had set up. The towns really open their arms for the riders, and of course the riders spend lots of money in the local economy. Upon arriving into Rock Valley the welcoming we received was an emotional experience with people lining the streets, sitting on porches waving at us like we were dignitaries or rock stars. And this was the response in all the pass through towns and host over night towns. Best described as a rolling party of 20,000 people with the same interest feasting on all kinds of food and drink, lots of beer, brat, bbq, pie, ice cream, burritos, coffee, fruit, pickles, pie, did I say pie and live music in every town. Our last town of Mason City featured Bret Michaels. The town of Boyden is famous for pork as a pig theme was everywhere.
This sculpture in Rock Valley was the best metal work I've seen, the detail incredible.
It wasn't possible to see or do everything in these towns and finish the days riding.
The ride its self was blessed with the best weather of all that Bill could remember. Aside from some head winds and one day of heat it was perfect. To crest a hill and look both ways and see nothing but bicycles as far as one could see taking up the whole road which was closed to traffic was an unbelievable site. The Iowa State Patrol blocked traffic at intersections and had music playing over the cruiser loud speaker as we ride by. This was a bucket list thing for me and I'm glad for such an incredible experience.
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