Wed, Jun 6, 2012 | by TJ JuskiewiczShare
by T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI Director
We had a few guest riders with the RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-riders as they meet at the Stone Piers in Lake View. Joining the core group of weeklong Pre-riders Jim and Donna Brown from Team Spin, Joe and Cindy Connolly from Council Bluffs, Scott Engquist with the Harcourt RAGBRAI committee and Kent Harfst with the Webster City
The day’s ride was over 81 miles, but just 1,657 feet of climb. It is a very flat route, but could be tougher if winds factor into the ride. We were fortunate the winds were not a major issue until late in the day. The pre-ride team left at 7:00 am, stopped in every town and still rolled into Webster City before 5:00 pm.
A few brave souls on our team decided to ride the Karras Loop to Stratford and they logged well over 100 miles. Wes Hall, Assistant RAGBRAI Director, Kent Harfst and Joe Connolly so we will award them each a loop patch for their efforts.
The day starts with a nice spin around Blackhawk Lake before heading through Calhoun, Webster and Hamilton Counties. All of the towns are again spaced out nicely on this long, flat day with every community being spaced between 5.4 and 11.5 miles. So stop and smell the roses in these towns.
The roads were in pretty good shape and the ones that were in need of repair were being worked on as we were out on the road. It was evident that the Webster County roads had been repaired including the big hill that leads outside of Lehigh.
Here are some facts and points of interest from each town.
RAGBRAI has visited Auburn just once before, the last time on RAGBRAI III in 1975. Auburn is a community of just 322 people located in Sac County that will show RAGBRAIers a Taste of Home!
There are some great places to stop for breakfast in Auburn, just 11 miles into the day. Eat at Van’s Café, Dolly’s Bar & Grill or several vendors and local groups that will be serving breakfast that morning.
Roy Reiman, a magazine-publishing magnate, grew up on a farm near Auburn and has been generous to his hometown and their streetscape. Rebuilding of streets, sidewalks, curbs, entrance signs and rain gardens have beautified downtown Auburn.
Be sure to visit the Auburn Historical Museum. Funds raised during RAGBRAI will go towards the communities 125th Celebration that takes place on August 4 & 5, 2012
The town motto has always been, “Everything but a Lake.” The town noticed the two overnight towns around them (Lake View and Webster City) are doing lake/river themes and since ‘water’ is a big topic in town (as the community is working to raise money for a new city pool!) the town decided to go with a theme of, “Where’s the Lake?” The even will have t-shirts that ask the question, “Where’s the Lake?”
Several local vendors will be serving breakfast items ranging from pancakes, biscuits & gravy, rolls, and even breakfast pizza! The Pool Project committee is planning on doing a booth with Iowa-based foods including pork tenderloins, corn fritters, and fresh-fruit/berry PIE!!!!!! But they are taking a little different approach since pie is not always the easiest thing to travel with so they will be having the take and go version – deliciously, made from scratch pie turn-overs! The Pool Project will also be hosting ‘dips’ in our current city pool!
The city square is one of the most beautiful places in Lake City, it is an image that most people leave with in their minds and Lake City wants to make coming to the square a relaxing environment. They will be lining the perimeter of the square with hay bales and couches so that bikers may take a load off and rest their bums! Also uptown we will have photo opportunities, a DJ (Big Daddy Addy), bike racks and entertainment from a Lake City native that travels the US doing professional flatlander bike stunts! A block from the square and on the route, will have our “fix’er up” area with First Aid station and bike repair shops. Lake City is very excited for getting to host RAGBRAI (their last time was 1981). They are excited to show off the community while people are searching for the ‘lake’, they will find so much more!
Several vendors will be doing a variety of breakfast and Iowa-based foods! There will also be a beer garden and Bloody-Mary bar hosted by a local bar and several smaller booths doing fruit and drinks.
Restaurants or pubs that riders should be sure to visit include the Wright Place, Sweet Things Bakery, Carnegie Café, Coyote’s Café, Lake City Drive-In (ice cream!), Wagon Wheel
Lake City is currently in the middle of a large fundraising campaign called the “Pool Project” raising 2 million dollars for a brand new pool to replace the current pool built in the early 1950’s. The Project has been moving along well and it is promoted all over town! Lake City is currently about $50,000 from the half-way mark of 1 million! (Perhaps RAGBRAIers can help get them a little closer) The town recently competed in the Readers’ Digest We Hear You America National Contest to win $50,000 for the project and WON!! (Better yet, the city matched the funds to reward the community for its efforts and the Pool Project received double the excitement!) Lake City had the drive and will continue to make the “Pool Project” a reality!
Lohrville (Meeting Town)
“Lohrville: The Ride’s 40 Year Old Virgin” is theme as the town of 368 people host RAGBRAI for their first time.
The town has a shady park to host the riders with plenty of trees and picnic tables for riders to relax. The park features a playground for kids, a horseshoe pit to challenge some ringers and a sand volleyball court. The riders will be entertained with Live Music, a Petting Zoo (llamas, chicken, pigs and calfs) and the Firemen’s Beer Garden.
The community will be selling Sweet Corn and a variety of homemade pies. The will also have Maple Bacon Wrapped Sweet Corn. The bacon is from the Lohrville Locker that won awards at the BaconFest in Des Moines. The mayor and the RAGBRAI committee met the pre-riders and let us sample some of those treats.
The Bar B Q Shack and the Hazard County Lounge are located in downtown and are a must see.
A portion of the proceeds raised will go back to the Lohrville Community and the American Cancer Society.
Best of luck to Lohrville on their maiden voyage hosting RAGBRAI!
Farnhamville (Meeting Town)
The local Fire department is having the beer garden and the money will be used for adding on to the fire station. The Cattleman’s will be serving up delicious steak sandwiches. The local ladies will be baking homemade pies.
Be sure to stop in the Farnhamville Public Library while in town.
Farnhamville will be “A Great Place to Be”.
Gowrie is a bustling community nestled in the midst of north central Iowa’s productive grain fields. It is a great place to visit and a wonderful place to live! The pace is a bit more relaxed, but opportunities abound. Take a dip in the pool, revisit the past in our museum, hit the links at the golf course, walk a nature trail, attend a summer evening concert in the city park, or shop at one of the many fine businesses. These are just a sampling of the many things you can do in this community of just over 1,000 friendly people.
The community is planning to throw a “pool party” complete with beach balls, swimming pool, water fights, and more! In the square block city park, an oasis of shade and grass, there will be local and outside food vendors, a local DJ in the band shell, and a beer garden hosted by the local American Legion post.
A local DJ will be playing music in the band shell and a beer garden will be available. There will also be some fun water activities that will be sure to be a hit.
At the center of the RAGBRAI activities stands the Betty Nyght Hamilton Bandshell The original bandshell, built in 1916, was lost to the ravages of time in 1990. In 1996, with a vision for reviving the past and building on a strong musical history, the bandshell was rebuilt. On June 27, the new bandshell was dedicated during a concert that featured internationally-famous bass baritone Simon Estes performing with the Gowrie Community Band & Chorus. A crowd of 10,000 gathered in Gowrie for a magical evening that has been described as Hometown Renaissance. The Gowrie Arts Council continues to host a summer concert series beginning in June each year that features local talent alongside performers from Iowa and beyond.
Just three weeks prior to RAGBRAI the American Legion Post sponsors the town’s annual Independence Day Celebration. This year activities start on Friday, June 29th and run through the 4th of July. Activities include a comedian, karaoke, Firecracker 40 bike ride, carnival in the city park, food stands, street dance, Cow Pie Bingo, Warrior 5k fun run/walk, amateur golf tournament, a huge parade, and of course a spectacular fireworks show! When many communities suspended celebrations during World War II the Gowrie community continued to celebrate. For well over 100 years, Gowrie has the longest consecutive Independence Day celebration in Iowa.
Neat restaurants or pubs that riders should be sure to visit: Downtown the local pub, Marv’s Market Street Grill & Bar, will also be hosting a DJ and outside beer garden. Other local restaurants that will also be vending in the park is the Barbeque Thief and Sprockets Famous Dogs. The pre-ride team sampled some of the tasty treats of Sprockets Dogs and they were delicious.
To help support the local swimming pool fundraiser we have adopted the theme “Splash Into Gowrie” and plan to throw a “pool party” complete with beach balls, kiddie swimming pools, water activities, and more! (Don’t worry, no sand except under the playground equipment.) The existing pool is over 40 years old and beginning to crumble.
Unfortunately some of the attractions will be closed during the day of RAGBRAI. We do have a depot museum, swimming pool, roller skating rink, golf course, and three city parks. To learn more about Gowrie, visit their web site at www.gowrie.org .
So Splash Into Gowrie!
“Get Splashed in Harcourt” as water balloons will be flying from a balloon sling shot to cool off riders in the shady city park. See how many balloons you can catch from the giant water slingshot. The city park has plenty of great shady trees, playgrounds for kids and fun activitie sin store. There will also be antique cars and motorcycles on display.
Eight local organizations will work together to feed RAGBRAIers including the communities churches, the SEWG softball team, the Lost Grove 4H club, American Legion, the Harcourt Fire Department and Harcourt Community Club. The groups will be serving pie, ice cream, sandwiches, hot dogs and brats.
The RAGBRAI pre-ride team tasted some of foods that they will be serving and you will not want to miss these delicious foods. The homemade pies were to die for and add a scoop of ice cream to put it over the top! The brats were also great!
There will also be out of town vendors set up on Ash Street north of the park. JJ’s Bar will be open and supplying spirits for riders.
Dayton is known for its annual Labor Day Rodeo and this year is a milestone year…the 75th! So Dayton is planning to offer a cowboy themed day of fun, food, and rodeo elements downtown for the bikers to enjoy, so “Come Horse Around in Dayton!” This is the first time hosting RAGBRAI for Dayton.
The entertainment is still being planned but it looks like karaoke and a country western band. Stay tuned.
Be sure to stop in Miry Clay Pottery Shop and Bella on Main gift shop located in the downtown. The Pottery Shop is a family run business with some exquisite pieces that are all handcrafted at a studio in the shop.
Local high schoolers and the art teacher are busy painting a really neat mural depicting life in Dayton on a wall of a downtown building.
Dayton also boasts the most challenging 9-hole golf course in the state of Iowa.
The residents of the retirement home will wave goodbye as riders exit the town of Dayton. Be sure to stop and visit with them during your stay in town.
Mark your calendars for the 75th Annual Labor Day Rodeo September 1-3 with a rodeo parade on Monday September 3.
Stratford (Karras Loop)
Stratford will be hosting a Luau on the Loop! This year’s Karras Loop is considered the toughest Karras Loop in the history of RAGBRAI. Riders will go up and down the Des Moines River Valley going into and out of Stratford. The extra miles will be worth it to visit with the nice people of Stratford.
The Stratford Sands Block Party will cool you down with food and drink, music, hula hoopers, bag toss, limbo and much more. Be sure to have your picture taken at the Farmer’s Luau on the Loop.
You will also receive your official Karras Loop patch in the town of Stratford from the RAGBRAI officials. These patches are not sold, they are earned. This year will be abadge of honor!
RAGBRAI has not visited Stratford since 1980.
Lehigh will be hosting the Big Hill Challenge. Riders will scream down the hill into Lehigh that is nestled into the Des Moines River Valley and also have to climb out of town as they head to Webster City for the night. Those are some nice hills, but nothing compared to School Hill Street!
You’ll have “One HILL of a Time” as you attempt to climb School Hill Street just for fun. This option hill that starts in downtown is just 2/10 of a mile long but is 20% grade with some parts even 26%. Lehigh will have timed contests to see who is RAGBRAI’s King of the Hill.
The Volunteer Fireman will also have a dunk tank in town and a tug of war activity to add some excitement.
There will be plenty of food options on both sides of the river including sweet corn and a local award winning barbeque smoker.
The Riverview Lounge has always been a popular spot with bikers. They are planning a bog day with an outdoor garden with some cold drinks and great food.
Lehigh last hosted RAGBRAI in 1995.
Its been 32 long years since Webster City has last hosted RAGBRAI. But don’t worry, they will be ready to show their guests what a friendly community they have. Riders should get ready to have “Fun at the River’s Bend”
The town is going all out to make riders experiences the best that it can be. The committees will utilize the beautiful parks through town and the Hamilton County Fairgrounds to spread out the campgrounds around the town. The Fair will be going on the day of RAGBRAI, so be sure to check it out!
The main food vendors and entertainment will be located in the downtown that several campgrounds can walk to or easily access the shuttle buses.
Webster City recently announced Three Dog Night as their featured entertainment. With 21 consecutive Top 40 hits, including three number one singles, 11 Top Ten’s and 12 straight RIAA Certified Gold LPs the crowd will hear hit after hit.
“There are so many hits and they have performed to sell-out crowds in many countries around the world,” said Entertainment Chair Kent Bailey. “Three Dog Night will be performing hits like “Joy to the World,” “Mama Told Me Not To Come,” “Black and White,” “Shambala,” “One,” “Liar,” “Celebrate,” and many, many more. There are so many hits and we are all going to have a great time.”
Member Carrie Olson talked a bit about the entertainment schedule for July 24. She said that at 4 p.m., an opening band with a local connection will play.
Official RAGBRAI registered riders will get in for free, and people wearing the official Webster City RAGBRAI T-shirts to the concert will also get in for free.
Day 4 – Wednesday, June 6
The team is looking forward to another challenging ride from Webster City to Marshalltown. Tune in tomorrow for another report from the Route Inspection Ride!
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