RAGBRAI XLV Countdown – July 23-29, 2017
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Route Inspection Pre-Ride

RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Day 6 – Oskaloosa to Fairfield

“A perfect day of riding,” according to Mark and Jen Wyatt!  This is the easiest day of the week (on paper of course!) with just  52 miles and 1,222 feet of climb.  We left Oskaloosa with a slight rain and cool temps, but it burned off by late morning.  Everyone was in a chipper mood as we did not experience too many hills on the day’s ride.

We were joined on the day’s ride by some of the Oskaloosa and Fairfield RAGBRAI Committees and other area riders.

Cedar is not an official Iowa city and does not plan to have activities in town, but will team up  in nearby Fremont.

Fremont was founded by William M. Morrow on July 4th, 1848, and was named for Captain John Charles Fremont.  It is unknown if Captain Fremont ever actually came to the spot where Fremont is located, but it is believed he may have camped north of town near Cracker Neck on his exploration journey westward.  There are at least 14 towns named Fremont throughout the lower 48.

Fremont boasts a population of 743 residents according to the latest census, an increase of 42 from the 2000 census.  Part of the Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont school district, a recently constructed K-6 facility is located on the eastern side of town along Highway 23.

Roger Batterson (1943-2013), a 1961 Fremont graduate, set an all-time high school career basketball scoring total of more than 1500 points.  His record still stands.  Roger turned down a college scholarship to join the National Guard.  He then went on to school to become an architect.  He owned a construction company in Ottumwa Iowa where he designed and built many structures.  Roger passed away suddenly in January 2013.

Steve Bales graduated with the class of 1960 as a salutatorian and went on to become an aeronautical engineer.  He was the Guidance Officer on the Apollo 11 mission and had the responsibility of making the deciding call on whether to abort the mission or continue on with an erroneous computer readout and an alarm system going off.  Steve made the call to go and as a result Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.  Steve received awards from then Governor Robert D. Ray and then received the Medal of Freedom from President Richard M. Nixon at an awards banquet in Los Angeles.

Andy Milder played Bales in the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

Fremont plans to be a great breakfast stop on this day.  The town plans to make available Biscuits and sausage gravy, sweet rolls and fresh pie.  Vendors on hand will include Big Oven Cookies, Breakfast Delights and Pizza on Wheels.  Billy Ray’s Smokehouse, the local bar and grill, plans to host a beer garden, and Casey’s will be serving their breakfast pizza.

We met the new owner of Tisha’s Pub that will be having the towns beer garden.  Tisha just took over as the owner of Monday.

Be sure to stop by the Veterans Memorial in front of the Community Center, and the local 4-H will have RAGBRAI themed displays along with photo head shot boards and possibly artificial cow milking for hands on practice.

The city of Hedrick was founded in 1881.  Hedrick was named after General John Morrow Hedrick, who encouraged its development.  The town motto is ‘Where Friends Meet’, and serves the town well as the meeting town for this day.  Current population of Hedrick is 764 residents.

Hedrick is the home of the famous kite-shaped mile track for horse races which started in 1892.

The last train rolled through in 1980, but The Hedrick Depot has been restored and contains Hedrick history.  Another historical site to visit while in Hedrick is the Tri-County Veteran’s Museum.  This museum contains veterans memorabilia from a three county area.

Most of the town’s vendors will be in the large city park that is just south of Highway 149.

Hedrick will be the day’s meeting town allowed riders and their support vehicles to meet up.


Packwood is self-proclaimed ‘God’s gift to Iowa!’  The first residence was built at the corner of Main Street and Second Street in 1879.  Samuel Packwood founded the village in 1883.  The first buildings were built along the then existing Burlington Western Railroad and included a grocery store and post office.  The town celebrated their Quasquicentenial in 2008.  As of the 2010 census, Packwood population was 204.

The following is a dedication to Packwood, author unknown:

Here on this spot, a century ago, home-loving folks resolved to build a home.  Courageous souls, they labored hard and long to found this town.  Not on high hills was this town built, but on a level space, where one can see the far horizon’s glow.

The backbone of the great United States is not the noisy metropolis, but all the small towns scattered far and wide across our nation, villages like this.  My hometown, and the great country-side close by it.  Here folks live and work, who love a patch of green sod near their homes, a bit of sky to lift their hearts above.

Packwood has really enjoyed hosting RAGBRAI as a community event.  The last two RAGBRAI visits the town went in as a group effort and put all the proceeds into a community project.  When RAGBRAI rolled through last time the town used the funds to purchase a beautiful electronic message sign that informs everyone of happenings in town.  You’ll see it when you roll in!  The time before that the town was able to fund a new basketball court for the community.  They are working on this year’s community project.

The town will be serving some tasty treats including lunch items, homemade pie, ice cream, veggie sticks, water and Gatorade.

This will be the fourth time RAGBRAI has been through Fairfield.  The downtown features 15 restaurants of many ethnic varieties, two cafes, a tea house and a Chocolate Café.  Also downtown you will find the 35,000 square foot Fairfield Arts and Convention Center with a 525 seat theatre named the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts.

In 2006 Fairfield was named an Iowa Great Place for the work the town is doing to develop arts and culture, diversify the economy and showcase sustainability.  Fairfield now features 150 kw of solar power for commercial buildings.  The campus of Maharishi University of Management (MUM) recently opened a new classroom building for their Sustainability Living Major that is a net zero energy LEED Platinum building.  The local Hy-Vee Store is the only LEED Gold building in the state.

In 2011, a 16 mile loop trail around the city perimeter was completed.  The trail begins at the south side of the city at the site of the historic Massdam Barns where a Welcome Center can orient visitors to the whole county.

If this is your first trip to Fairfield, then make time to visit the Golden Dome buildings on the campus of MUM where 1000 practitioners of Transcendental Meditation do their daily meditation. Located north on Highway 1, the domes and the campus are an iconic feature of the community.

The main entertainment stage will be located on the Fairfield downtown square.  The lineup includes: the Peru Circus from Peru Indiana, the 34th Army Band Sidewinders, the Jefferson County Green Band, with The Spazmatics serving as the headliner.

We have one more day of riding from Fairfield to Fort Madison for the climatic Mississippi River tire dip!

1 Response on “RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Day 6 – Oskaloosa to Fairfield


August 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I am Really Not happy with ragbria riders. I think they would have the courtesy to pull over and let a fire truck go by. They have to obey the law too. A friend of mine lost everything cause the fire truck couldn’t get there in time because they couldn’t get through town n the roads Thursday because of the rude riders. I think ragbrai communitees should make this right!

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