RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Day 5 – Knoxville to Oskaloosa
The RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-riders were finally rewarded with a beautiful sunny day and some favorable winds! We had a few riders that joined in today’s ride as we had a group of riders from Muscatine (including Charlie Harper of Harper’s Cycling and Fitness) and a group from Iowa City joined us as well (Coralville City Manager Kelly Hayworth, former Hawkeye wrestler Luke Eustice and recently retired NFL kicker and Hawkeye Nate Kaeding).
The day for just 52 miles, but there are a few real good Iowa hills to tackle with 2,808 feet of climb for the day. Some of them are a good mile of climb, but it comes with the same reward of the downhill. It was good to see some road crew out working on the roads.
Perhaps the morning highlight will be crossing the Red Rock Dam. It is a beautiful setting to enjoy. There is no stopping on the bridge over the dam, so pull into the overlook for photos.
The word ‘Pella’ means City of Refuge. The Scholte House, home of founding father Dominie Hendrik Peter Scholte, remains as a museum to a number of visitors year-round.
In 1850, the Nicholas Earp family came to Pella. Wyatt Earp, the fourth son of Nicholas & Virginia, was born in Monmouth Illinois and was two years old when they relocated to Pella. They lived in Pella until 1864 when they joined the wagon train to California. Wyatt later became a famous gun-slinging western marshal even though he grew up as a Pella farm boy. The Wyatt Earp Home is part of the Pella Historical Village tour.
As you visit Pella’s Central Park, take note of the Tulip Toren. Built in 1968, this gift from Mr. & Mrs. Pete Kuyper, founder of Pella Corporation (formerly known as Rolscreen Company), stands over 65 feet tall with a crest weighing over 13 tons. If you look closely enough, the coat of arms of the Dutch Royal Family and the motto “I Shall Maintain” are inscribed. The Toren serves as the landmark for the annual Tulip festival where Pella’s residents showcase their heritage in a 3-day celebration of Dutch costumes, wooden-shoe dancing, parades and much more. Over 150,000 guests visit Pella’s festival each year. Over 300,000 tulips bring the community to full color each spring for the festival.
The Vermeer Mill and Interpretive Center provide an out-of-the-ordinary skyline for Pella with mill blades towering above while rotating with power provided by the wind. The mill is used to grind grain into flour, which is used to make breads at the local bakeries. It is the tallest working windmill in the US.
Set your watch by the Klokkenspel, one of only a handful of Carillion clocks in the United States. Each day on the ‘odd’ hours beginning at 11:00am, the 4-foot figures tell the story of Pella.
Some activities planned for the day include: Wooden shoe relays, Zipline through their Touch of Holland, Extreme cyclists discount for Vermeer Mill and Pella Historical Village, Inflatable wooden shoe float on the Molengracht canal, music, Dress Dutch photo op, and a chance to meet Wyatt Earp in person at his boyhood home. Some Tulip Time floats will also be on display for photo opportunities. Local groups will provide opportunities to learn some Dutch dances, and there will be a chance to dance with the Dutchessess.
Other must see attractions include: a restored Pella Opera House, Dutch Bakeries and Meat Markets, Central College, and the Molengracht canal.
Food is a word that easily ‘sells’ Pella. Local vendors will have available infamous Dutch Letters, Pella Bologna, Vetballen, Poffetjes, Bratwurst, Smoothies, Breakfast Burritos and much more. Restaurants include: Monarch’s on the Molengracht, Windmill Café, Tulip Tea Room, Smokey Row Coffee, The Brew, In’t Veld’s Meat Market, Ulrich Meat Market, Jaarsma’s Bakery, Vander Ploeg Bakery. Pella serves as the meeting town for this day.
Well known Pella natives include Kyle Korver of the NBA, Dave Keuning of ‘The Killers’, and country recording artist Jason Brown.
Anyone who knows about Bussey, knows about the Bussey Mural painted by local artist Todd Spaur. Highlighted by local news agencies, and by the “Today Show”, you will find the mural on Merrill Street.
The town is named for Jesse Bussey, who purchased the land for the town in 1867. In the early years, numerous coal mines were in operation in the area, one being the largest producer of coal in Marion County from 1895 to 1902. Current population of the town is 425 citizens.
While in Bussey, pay a visit to Katy did’s General Store. A throwback to yesteryear, cyclists will enjoy fresh sliced tomato sandwiches.
The Fourth of July celebration has been a standing tradition for over 120 years starting in 1892. Ray Moore has been a fixture of the annual 4th of July parade for the past 37 years riding a palomino horse.
Coming into town from the north, cyclists will be greeted with a long and steep hill past the Twin Cedars School.
All activities will be in the downtown area. Jam Time DJ Productions will provide the entertainment. Look for Dang Brothers Pizza (Red Fire Truck), Anna Pantoni’s bicycle clothing, Tender Tom’s Turkey, among others. Free WiFi will be available in the community library. Also pay a visit to Wilson’s Corner.
Located just outside of Oskaloosa, Beacon has approximately 494 residents and covers one square mile.
Coal miners in Beacon joined the United Mine Workers union in 1894. By 1902, this union had 100 members. The early 1900s saw the largest growth in population, bringing the total to over 950.
Anderson’s Country Store will be the place to be as they host a beer garden with DJ Jamtime. They will also have a live camel there so you can kiss the camel. The will have some great food options including pulled pork sandwiches.
It is just 2 more miles to Oskaloosa, so you are almost there!
The gorgeous ride from Knoxville to Oskaloosa is only 52 miles, so you should have plenty of time to enjoy the entertainment at our overnight town tonight. Osky’s theme is “Ride Hard – Dance Harder” and there will be plenty of opportunity for both!
For those of you who arrive early, from 2:00 to 5:30 pm, there will be a live DJ at the historic bandstand downtown. Then, from 6 to 7 pm the Oskaloosa City Band will play at the bandstand. Oskaloosa’s city band was first organized in 1864, and is known as one of the oldest city bands west of the Mississippi River. The band performed on a double-deck bandstand from 1882 to 1912, when the current bandstand was constructed. The first concert on this bandstand was on June 1, 1912.
Later in the evening, stop by the Main Stage downtown. From 7 to 9 pm the popular Iowa band The Nadas will perform. Formed in 1995 in Ames, the rock/folk band will get you dancing. The night owls will want to stick around from 9:30 to midnight for the Fishheads, who will also play at the Main Stage downtown. The Fishheads are from Omaha, and play a mix of island, rock, funk and reggae. According to their website, they are the ultimate Island Party Band, and create a fun, spontaneous atmosphere. Sounds like a good match for RAGBRAI!
For those of you who just want to explore the city, keep an eye out for Oskaloosa trivia, which will be posted around town. There will also be a Children’s Art Show all day at the Iowa Building downtown. Since the mileage is so short from Knoxville to Oskaloosa, it’s not a stretch to ride 2.5 miles outside of town to tour the Nelson Pioneer Farm and Crafts Museum, the first museum in the US to honor the pioneer farmer.
Other attractions include:
- Fridley Theatres/Penn Central Theatre – Showtimes are 2, 4, 7 and 9. The movie is TBD.
- City Pool – Regular hours are 1 – 7 pm. The pool will have extended hours, though they are also TBD.
- Oskaloosa Public Library. Read a good book, check your email, enjoy the air conditioning.
- Take a walking tour of William Penn University, or visit their Mid-East Collection at William Penn University’s Wilcox Library.
- Try some wine at a wine tasting at Tassel Ridge Winery. Just 5.5 miles outside of town.
- Tour Russell Wildlife CenterOr try a round of golf! There are several options within biking distance:
- Edmundson Golf Course – 18 hole
- Harvest Point Golf Course – 9 hole
- Oskaloosa Golf – 18 hole
- Miniature Golf
No matter what you do, rest up, ride hard, dance harder, and enjoy your visit to friendly Oskaloosa!