RAGBRAI XLIV Countdown – July 24-30, 2016
Friends of RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI news team

Munson: High Trestle Trail bridge makes Madrid a popular RAGBRAI detour



Madrid, Ia. — No, you didn’t read the dateline wrong. Madrid wasn’t on this year’s official RAGBRAI route marked with the obvious, blazing red signs with black arrows to point the way.

But it might as well have been. The “official unofficial” RAGBRAI detour Wednesday wound through here along the High Trestle Trail on the way to the midway stop in Slater.

The tiny town of Luther along Iowa Highway 17 was a key turning point: Instead of heading east, some riders streamed back west to snake down toward Woodward and then cross the spectacular 13-stories-high, half-mile-long river bridge that opened in April. Others made a beeline south straight to Madrid and the trailside Flat Tire Lounge.

“Oh, man, I don’t know if I could even put a number on it,” said Capt. Randy Pecenka of the Madrid Fire Department. He took his post along the trail in Madrid starting at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and said the flow of bikes remained thick and continuous into the early afternoon.

“Unofficially they had it set up pretty good,” said a member of team K’moniwannaleiya — I think I can print that — who preferred to remain anonymous among the raucous scene at Flat Tire.

This team apparently has such a debauched good time during RAGBRAI that Jeremy Schulte, the captain from Lake View, Ia., on his seventh ride, was one of the few to divulge his name.

I asked whether Schulte’s bus-supported team of 28 riders made elaborate plans far in advance to deviate from Wednesday’s course and into Madrid.

“We kind of just go by ear,” Schulte said. Translation: The decision was made at the last minute Wednesday morning shortly before the key turned in the ignition of the garish marine blue, customized school bus.

The Flat Tire opened June 4 in the wake of the new bridge and a surge in two-wheel traffic along the 25-mile trail. The bar’s general manager, Mandy Diederick, said that she stocked up on enough beer for 5,000 RAGBRAI riders and wannabes. The Technicolor spandex scene was shoulder-to-shoulder inside the 1,800-square-foot silver Quonset hut that makes up the main barroom, while more riders tossed bags and chit-chatted in the outdoor beer garden.

A local foundation even provided valet parking for bicycles as part of its campaign to fund a new all-weather track for Madrid’s high school, since the boys’ Class 1-A team has won five of the last 11 state championships despite its cinder running surface. (If RAGBRAI bicyclists can appreciate anything, it’s the need for a smoothly paved road.)

So this is what happens when RAGBRAI strikes anywhere close to the Des Moines metro: Extra throngs lacking wristbands join the 10,000 registered riders, and everybody colors outside the lines.

I also crossed paths Wednesday in Slater with a certain couple who actually remained on the official route: Chuck and Carla Offenburger.

Of course, Chuck is the iconic “Iowa Boy,” the former Iowa columnist who first embarked on RAGBRAI in 1983 after co-founder Donald Kaul bowed out.

The Offenburgers haven’t ridden RAGBRAI since 2007. Chuck was diagnosed in 2009 with non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma, then last year received a second intensive round of chemo and a stem cell transplant in a fresh battle against large-cell lymphoma.

Also last year, adenoid cystic carcinoma was discovered in a tumor removed from Carla’s jaw.

So the Offenburgers were simply happy to ride this year’s route on Tuesday and Wednesday as middle-of-the-pack cyclists far behind the early-morning “rabbits.”

“Everybody’s younger, but I think that has more to do with me,” Chuck quipped when I asked what about RAGBRAI had changed the most since the early 1980s.

Although feeling good, the couple did consent to walk up half the hill into Pilot Mound on Tuesday.

While bicycling Wednesday morning along County Road E57, Carla also realized that it had been last year’s Wednesday of RAGBRAI when she and Chuck drove along that same route by car to Ames for her final radiation treatment. So she ate an extra burrito to commemorate just being alive — which to me seems like the perfect RAGBRAI style of celebration.

Chuck mused that RAGBRAI was good preparation for covering the Gulf War in the early 1990s: Both events were really huge, really confusing, and everybody involved wanted to talk.

I always turn to Chuck for sage columnist advice. And the RAGBRAI route itself definitely was confusing Wednesday.

3 Responses on “Munson: High Trestle Trail bridge makes Madrid a popular RAGBRAI detour

Profile photo of Scott

Scott

July 28, 2011 at 7:07 am

Thanks to everyone who stopped at Flat Tire. We had an absolute blast and our photographer took over 1k pictures so be on the look out for those!

Otter

July 28, 2011 at 8:32 am

Thanks for having breakfast available yesterday morning. We came from Boone to Woodward to Madrid so it was nice we didn’t miss the most important meal of the day.

Marti Rose

November 17, 2013 at 10:08 am

Jeremy Schulte passed away yesterday. A great person will be missed by many.

Leave a Reply

Latest Blog Posts

  • What to look for Tuesday on RAGBRAI

    The third day of RAGBRAI 2016 concludes in this year's smallest overnight town.

  • Riders share ghost encounters at ax-murder site

    The crime was more than 100 years ago, but the spookiness remains.

  • This RAGBRAI double rainbow brightened a day tinged with sadness

    Many riders shared images of the rainbows.

  • NPR's No Pie Refused carries on with just one fork

    Politics beckons most of the members of you're-riding-with NPR, No Pie Refused.

  • RAGBRAI's haircut king with a lizard on his head

    "It's only hair, is how I've always put it," Joe Vize shrugged.

  • Guardian angels of RAGBRAI are here to work

    "We signed up to serve," the airmen say.

  • UPDATE: Driver charged in dragging of critically injured rider

    The truck left a driveway and hit the man late Sunday, according to the Iowa State Patrol.

  • Colleague: Fallen cyclist 'lived life the right way'

    Wayne Ezell was killed by a pickup truck that struck him from behind as he rode his bike.

  • 11 photos: Scenes from the gravel loop

    It was a rocky detour to the Irish capital of southwest Iowa, Imogene.

  • What to look for Monday on RAGBRAI

    Gird yourself for a 75-mile day with almost 4,000 feet of climb.

Latest Videos

  • Skies will stay mostly clear tonight Tuesday will be another mainly sunny day with highs in the mid to upper 80s. A few more clouds are expected on Wednesday as a shift in the pattern begins to take place.

  • Walk through the campground and driveway where authorities say that RAGBRAI rider James Foley was hit and dragged in Shenandoah.

  • RAGBRAI riders take a break from climbing hills to slide down one during the second day of of the annual ride across Iowa.

  • Jacob Sikes of Kearney, Neb., stayed at the Villisca Axe Murder House several years ago. He's back for RAGBRAI -- despite the outcome of that initial visit.

  • David Chivers, president of Register Media, grew up in Des Moines and says he's wanted to ride RAGBRAI since he was 12 or 13.

  • Riders are greeted by bull riding and a unique bike sculpture in Corning, Iowa.

  • Joe Vize of Dubuque shows off his lizard hairdo.

  • Riders take on the steepest day of RAGBRAI with 4,000 feet of climb.

  • T.J. Juskiewicz, director of the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, discusses the death of a rider early Sunday west of Glenwood just as the annual ride was beginning.

  • T.J. Juskiewicz, director of the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, discusses the death of a rider early Sunday west of Glenwood just as the annual ride was beginning.

Find us socially

Email Signup

Sign up for the latest RAGBRAI news and notes (if there is no news in a day, you won’t get an e-mail).

© 2016 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy