Sun, Jun 3, 2012 | by TJ JuskiewiczShare
Close to 50 riders gathered this morning at this summer’s starting site at Sioux Center’s All Seasons Center to start the annual RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride. This 471-mile fact finding mission will take place this week, ending at the Mississippi River in Clinton on Saturday, June 9. Along the way, the rider numbers grew as others joined in towns of Orange City, Alton, Granville and Marcus.
Joining the Route Inspection Riders was several members of Team Checker, Team Fungus Amongus, Team Spin and quite a few riders from the starting town of Sioux Center. The local RIDE RIGHT Committee from Sioux Center also joined us as did Tom and Rich from Letsche’s Bike Shop in Cherokee.
The day’s ride was approximately 54 miles and just under 1,700 feet of climb. A few comments that we heard about the day’s route included, “great roads”, “nice communities” and “really nice people”.
Since the route starts north of the Loess Hills, the climbing is not nearly like it was like climbing out of Glenwood last year. There are a few small to medium hills here and there, but no monsters like Potter’s Hill or Twister Hill. Today we experienced mostly head winds, probably 15+ mph, and cross winds as they were blowing out of the SSE.
We rode on some excellent roads in Sioux, O’Brien and Cherokee Counties today. Hats off to the Iowa DOT, the county engineers and the municipal road crew for helping make RAGBRAI as safe as possible. The repair work was evident and we saw major repair work that has been recently completed in Cherokee County between Marcus and Cherokee.
Here are some facts and points of interest from each town.
RAGBRAI has visited Orange City five times before, the last time occurring in 2005. This Dutch town of 6,004 people in Sioux County is no stranger to visitors as they host the Tulip Festival each spring. Orange City will serve as the first pass-through community of RAGBRAI XL as they offer riders a “Dutch Detour”.
The town is planning a mini Tulip Festival for RAGBRAIers with stands, Dutch costumes, entertainment, floats, photo ops, and other fun Orange City Tulip Fest activities. Praise and worship music will be featured in the downtown park as well as some Tulip Festival entertainment. The Mini Tulip Festival will feature Floats, Dutch Street Organ, Tulip Queen Court, Festezanger Singers, the Tulip Mural on side of Dove Christian Book, Dutch Dancers, and much more!
Some sites you wouldn’t want to miss include Windmill Park, the Tulip Festival Floats. You also want to have your picture take in front of the Tulip Wall Mural on 2nd St NE. Also stop by the Dutch Bakery & Woudstra Meat Market
So what about food? Local vendors will be selling famous Woudstra brats, poffertjes (which are little buttery Dutch pancakes), Dutch Fudge Puppies (chocolate covered Belgian waffles rolled in different toppings), breakfast pizza, Dutch Letter & Almond patty pastries, fruits and Dutch Oliebolen (small round, Dutch doughnuts).
The town is hoping to raise funds to refurbish their Dutch Street Organ and Windmill Park (where the activities will be held),
Sounds like Orange City will start the ride off right!
We were joined on the ride by the Alton RAGBRAI Committee chairwoman Amanda Penning, aka the Princess on the RAGBRAI forums. Amanda rides with Fungus Amongus. Alton has also hosted RAGBRAI five times with the last happening back in 2005.
As you ride up the hill into Alton, you’ll find breakfast in the Bandshell Park! A band will be playing all morning in the spacious bandshell as well as a community church service. The Alton Fireman will be serving up all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausages plus a drink, all for $5.00! On top of that, the town will be serving egg, ham and cheese croissants (not all you can eat) plus drink for $5.00. The town is fundraising for airpacks for the volunteer fire department and also for playground equipment for the children’s park by the swimming pool.
Be sure to visit the oldest continuously operated Golf Course in Iowa on the way into town and check out the Catholic Church with its Romanesque architecture.
The Route Inspection Pre-riders were greeted to a great breakfast at the soon to be opened Tag’s Sports Bar & Grill. Tag’s is owned by Joanie and Tag Mousel, who happen to be the daughter and son-in-law of retired RAGBRAI director, Jim Green. Tag’s treated everyone to breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, fruit, monkey bread, caramel apple pie, coffee and even some Bloody Marys and beers for those that were up for it. Thanks Joanie and Tag for the great hospitality and best of luck with the new sports bar.
The DD Bar in downtown Alton will also be open for RAGBRAI and is always a big hit with RAGBRAI riders. The DD will have a DJ to entertain the crowds.
So stop at Alton for good food at a good price and smiles from the townies!
We rolled down to the road and 7 miles later pulled into Granville. Granville is also experienced in hosting RAGBRAI as they hosted for the fifth time back in 2005. Granville is the “Home of the Black Soil” as their farm groud is very rich for farming.
Granville is a town of just 312 residents that loves baseball. The Granville Spartans have won numerous state baseball titles.
Be sure to visit the Garden Gate while in Granville. This bright red 1944 barn is a gift and specialty shop is full of treasures. You’ll find quilt ladders, hutches, frame prints and other favorite country items.
Marcus (Meeting Town)
Marcus is excited about hosting RAGBRAI next month so “Marc-us on your Route!” The mayor and their RAGBRAI committee greeted the pre-riders as they entered Main Street of the community of just over 1,100 people. This will be the third time for Marcus to host the ride, the last time was 10 years ago.
Marcus will have dozens of food vendors, a beer garden with DJ just off their main street and plenty of restrooms. Some of the vendors will be the Cherokee County Pork Producer cooking pork burgers, the Marcus Historical Society with Rootbeer Floats and the Lions, Jaycees, Fair Board and Community Center teaming up to host the beer garden and serving the world famous Tiefenthaler Skinless Brats, produced in nearby Holstein. Jam Time DJ will be pumping out some great music to entertain the masses in the community beer garden.
There are some neat restaurants and pubs that riders should be sure to visit in Marcus including JBs, The Old Panhead, Pizza Ranch, Marcus Bowl and Marcus Junction.
There will also be an interactive trailer that riders can walk through at the end of the street that will educate riders on ethanol and bio-fuels. The Renewable Fuel Association will be on hand to answer questions and help educate RAGBRAIers about renewable fuels in Iowa.
The route will wind riders past the town’s nursing home, as the residents really enjoy watching the bikers on RAGBRAI.
Howdy Bikeroos! Saddle Up and Ride as the town of Cherokee welcomes you!
You will peddle downtown to beautiful historic Main Street and visit the Information Center located on North 5th Street. At the end of your day’s ride on a hard long trail? You need a place to lay your bedroll? Cherokee’s beautiful Spring Lake Park area is one of 4 campgrounds, with shuttles available for your convenience to the downtown activities.
The main stage entertainment will feature:
4:00 – 6:00 PM – Buffalo Ridge Band Featuring Kelsey Klingensmith
6:30 – 8:30 PM – Daylight Again – A tribute to Crosby, Stills, & Nash
9:00 – Midnight – The Mighty Nish Band.
Been a long, hot dusty ride on the trail to Cherokee? Well we’ve got several saloons to wet your whistle, and the community beer garden opens at 4 pm.
While here you can See Stars in Cherokee. The Sanford Museum and Planetarium will be open for you. Featured artist will be Bruce Ellingson. The exhibit features large panoramic images of the 15 National Parks the artist visited during 2010 and 2011. While at the museum plan to visit our Planetarium one of only a few in Iowa!
Take a stroll around Cherokee or jump on one of the shuttles and enjoy local entertainment. From 1-3 pm enjoy “Just Us” in front of Northwest Realty. The American Theatre with three screens will have something for any movie buff, or plan to take the haunted theatre tour. At 7 pm enjoy the Cherokee Symphony at Washington High School. There will be something for everyone in Cherokee, your place to be for RAGBRAI XL.
Need to wash that trail dust away on a hot day? Cherokee’s Bacon Aquatic Center is the place for you! Cool down and enjoy a dip in our pool. Or take a stroll back to the past and enjoy a cherry phosphate at our local old-fashioned ice cream fountain, located inside Main Street Pharmacy. They have all your old time favorites and an atmosphere to take you back to yesteryear. Speaking of going back to days gone by Cherokee’s Historic Depot one of our many historic downtown buildings will be open for you. Watch the model trains run, tour our museum while you take a step back in history.
Is your stomach gnawing on your backbone? Need to rustle up some grub? Cherokee has many fine restaurants, plus various vendors and church groups that will make sure you don’t go away hungry after a long day on the trail.
Short on cash? No need to rob a stage coach here, just use the local ATM’s. They are conveniently located downtown at Central Bank, or Cherokee State Bank, on the north side of town at Hy-Vee, Central Bank and Taco John’s, and on the south end of town at North Star Community Credit Union.
Need medical attention? Cherokee Regional Medical Center is here for you. They’re all set to take care of whatever ails you, and keep you on the trail. Cherokee will also have first aid stands available for those minor bumps along the way.
So whether you’re enjoying the hospitality of one of our citizens or using our beautiful camping areas, you will have a wonderful time in Cherokee, and we look forward to seeing you. You may even get to meet Cowboy Steve and Cowboy Dave in your travels.
You can learn more about Cherokee at www.cherokeeragbrai.com or like us on facebook.
Day 2 – Monday, June 4
Hopefully the winds will be kinder on the ride from Cherokee to Lake View. We leave from Letsche’s Bike Shop in Cherokee at 7:00am.
Tune in tomorrow for another report from the Route Inspection Ride!
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