Tue, Jun 26, 2012 | by TJ JuskiewiczShare
We had a lot of fun on the RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride the other week. It was not just fun, but it helped identify some potential hazards along the way and point out some towns and places that you certainly don’t want to miss.
Mark & Jen Wyatt
Iowa Bicycle Coalition
Iowa City, Iowa
One of the most unique things about RAGBRAI is the team concept. This is also very true on the pre-ride with a core group of nine riders across the state. We have fun together. We sweat together. We look out for each other. We have that team chemistry that works on RAGBRAI.
Despite the flat average topography of this year’s route, don’t skimp on training. Heat and headwinds could make easy days seem difficult. If you don’t opt for the School Hill in Lehigh, don’t worry, you have to climb out of that river valley. Look out for the sneaky Cobalt Hill near Hale on the final day!
RIDE RIGHT Coordinator
What a great week we had for the Pre-Ride, let’s hope this carries over to the actual ride in July!
We had a core group that ride the entire way this year and we were treated to the best roads I have seen in the last ten years on RAGBRAI. Over all I would rate the roads you will ride on this year a 9.5 out of 10. It may get to a 10 if we have some patching done on certain roads. You may have a few miles of bumpy roads; however, they are safe and have great views of the Iowa pastoral scenery.
If the pre-ride is any indication we will be well supplied with Iowa home baked goodies (yes, I had many good pieces of Apple pie and I must admit the Lemon Merengue I had in Dayton was really tasty on a warm day).
In meetings with the local RIDE RIGHT committees we stressed the need to wear helmets when on a bicycle even in town. Research has shown that the pavement in the city is just as hard as the pavement in the country! Hey! It is RAGBRAI and Helmet Hair is in for the week!
A big thank you to Judy Green for her support for the week and to Jim Green for his computer and mapping skills, they made our week that much better. The route is mapped and we are sure you will enjoy it.
For those of you doing the Karras Loop, thanks to Wes Hall, Joe Connolly and Kent Harfst for their checking it out for us. Understand that there were a couple of fun hills that made the trip worthwhile. Speaking of Hills, if you want a challenge the School Street Hill in Lehigh will test your legs! Watch for more on this later.
I want to thank all the great volunteers along this year’s route. The 40th edition of RAGBRAI will be special because of the hard work that these community volunteers have put in. They are waiting for you. They have a story to tell, food to share and the great Iowa hospitality.
Now you need to get ready. Get some miles in – the more the better. Get your bike tuned up and ready to go. Nothing worse than having to stop for repairs! Visit your local bicycle shop and get the right equipment for the ride. And finally, start thinking about which kind of pie you will have!
See you on the road – Be Safe and RIDE RIGHT!
Chalk up another RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride! Yes, once again I eagerly accepted T.J. and Wes’ invitation to roll with them on the RAGBRAI XL pre-ride. And, once again, it was tons of fun! Thanks so much for the invite.
They put the band back together from last year and it was like a family reunion; we laughed ourselves silly and got caught up as we rolled across Iowa. All the teams that joined us along the way were just icing on the cake.
So what about my thoughts on the XL route? You’re going to find that there’s a little bit of everything for everybody; flat running in valleys, hills, and rambling ridges – it’s all there. As usual, the weather conditions are going to factor into your experience. Hotter days are usually going to mean winds that trend somewhere out of the South. We had headwinds from the South on Day 1 and from the South East on Day 4. On the flip side, we enjoyed tail winds on Days 2, 3, and 5. Please factor some headwinds into your training.
XL been characterized as a flat route across central Iowa, but I don’t think this description does it justice. Days 1 and 2 are relatively short and include gentle rollers and a number of beautiful sweeping climbs through western Iowa. Catching a rising sun from the tops of some of these hills is really spectacular as you can see the rolling countryside for miles around. Days 3, 4 and 5 are going to be longer days with distances ranging from 75+ miles to 85 miles. Don’t forget to factor in any biking you have to do in the overnight towns as you could easily add an additional 5 miles to your day in the larger towns. You get a taste of the hills on day 3 but they kick into high gear starting after Zearing on Day 4 and all day on Day 5. Day 6 into Anamosa is short and sweet and the views are incredible. On Day 7, you’re going to enjoy the descent through Clinton on your way to the Mississippi!
As you read this, great food treats all along the route are awaiting your indulgence. Tag’s in Alton is a fun stop on Day 1. The “Wedge” from the Mud Hut in Aurelia and the great hamburgers at the Cattleman’s in Sac City on Day 2 were great finds. Day 3 proved to be the “Mount Everest” of food with all the through towns. I’m thinking that highway 175 should be designated as a “National Pie-Way”. All I’m saying is just plan on crumbling when you hear the siren call of a hot slice of pie that day. Enjoy the burger bar with the locals at the Royal Café in Story City on Day 4. Don’t miss out on the cinnamon rolls in Garwin (big enough to blot the sun out…) and ice cream in Vinton (take it from an ex soda jerk, it’s the real deal!) on Day 5. Have a killer breakfast at the Parlor City Pub & Eatery just over the river from Czech Town on Day 6. On your way there, be sure to stock up with your favorite kolaches and trade some chops with the Czech Ninja (she’s worth a whole write-up and should be my sister).
Aside from the celebrating 40 years of touring Iowa, this year was especially interesting to me and I got a bit reflective as I rolled down the road. My first RAGBRAI was RAGBRAI XIX in 1991 and, although most of the roads haven’t changed, what you roll by continues to evolve and change. Perhaps the biggest changes visible to Iowa’s countryside are the giant wind turbine farms and the nature of the family farms. What hasn’t changed is the kindness of the people you’ll meet and the community spirits you’ll experience. Embrace it and enjoy it.
Once again, my beliefs in the great people, places, and sights across Iowa have been reaffirmed. Thanks RAGBRAI for continuing this great event! T.J., Wes, Jim, Judy, Dan, Mark, Jen, Randy, and Joe – thanks for another year of great fun on the pre-ride. I hope to see everyone else on THE ride. Cheers!
It was a fun week. I’m usually picking riders up along the route as I drive the sag for RAGBRAI. I’m also known as R7! Now I know what you will be dealing with if I have to pick you up in the sag wagon. I checked out all the ways to slip into and out of towns while we were going across the state.
I asked T.J. if I can have one of these stretch limos as my new sag wagon. Still waiting for an answer?
The primary focus of the pre-ride inspection team was to promote safety for all riders. The road conditions we observed are by far the best I have seen in many years of riding RAGBRAI. Although there are a few rough and busy stretches, the majority of the roads are as smooth and peaceful as it gets. The midweek daily mileage will be a challenge; but with the proper training, riders will conquer these days and enjoy the fruits of the challenge with a short relaxing scenic ride on Friday.
Each day the core pre-ride group was joined by individual riders, team group riders, and members of local RAGBRAI committees who shared the pre-ride experience. As we traveled across the state, we were greeted in many towns by people who offered samples of the food that will be available for riders. We really appreciated the warm hospitality and delicious food samplings.
In preparing for this year’s ride, think about ways to make it memorable for years to come. Meet new people by talking to other riders and local townsfolk. Try a new food offering or select a flavor of pie different from your favorite. Spend time in a small town and tour a unique landmark. Breathe in the fresh rural Iowa air.
As I reflect on the memories of this year’s pre-ride, I can’t help but to imagine what it was like on the original ride 39 years ago. Although RAGBRAI has evolved and changed dramatically over the years, the core focus of meeting the people of Iowa and experiencing the Iowa hospitality remains an integral part of the ride experience. And the food. The people we met and the food we tasted on the pre-ride provided hints that this year can be the best RAGBRAI to date.
Another great week spent with our pre-ride family! We can assuredly say that fun was had by all while working. For the most part we felt this year’s route was one of the top five relating to road condition and safety concerns.
Jim can attest to the wonderful hospitality and food sampled as he gained six pounds. (his Doctor was NOT happy with him on Monday.)
It was so great connecting again with several people who were on committees years ago when Jim was Director. A great testimony that RAGBRAI friendships stay strong forever!
In closing Jim is still asking ” Mother, where are my bells?”. You need to join us next year to get the real meaning of this statement….the Dream Team knows!
THANKS TO JUDY GREEN, AKA MA GREEN, FOR SUPPORTING US AND PUTTING UP WITH US FOR THE WEEK!
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