RAGBRAI XLIII Countdown – July 19-25, 2015
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Route Inspection Pre-Ride

RAGBRAI Pre-Ride Day 7 – Independence to Guttenberg

We would like to start our final Route Inspection recap post with a big thank you to to both the Independence RAGBRAI Committee and the Guttenberg RAGBRAI Committee! We had such a blast in Indee! And since we had our third and final police escort out of town we really were literally “Glowing on the River.” And with the gorgeous descent into Guttenberg, it really might be the “Best Finish by a Dam Site” that we’ve ever had! And thanks for the delicious brats and pulled pork sandwiches – after all the hills we had climbed, they were just what the doctor ordered.

We would also like to give a very special thank you to the History Biker, Jess Rundlett of the State Historical Museum! Thanks for filling us in on the history along our ride, and for verifying facts we weren’t sure about. If you are in the Des Moines area, be sure to stop by the State Historical Museum’s RAGBRAI exhibit, Riding Through History! There you can learn more about our ride, and see some really cool artifacts from RAGBRAI and Iowa’s past.

Revisit the Route Inspection Team’s ride across Iowa through Twitter updates and pictures at DesMoinesRegister.com/trackRAGBRAI.

The cities we visited on Day Seven of our ride were Independence, Winthrop, Lamont, Strawberry Point, Edgewood,  Elkport, Garber and Guttenberg. We rode 67.5 miles, and had 3,073 feet of climb. Though it is the last day of the ride and it is tempting to rush through to Guttenberg, we suggest taking your time along the route. We were once again impressed by the hospitality of the pass through towns and they have even more fun planned for riders in a few weeks.

After a quick group photo by the Wapsipinicon Mill in Independence, we rolled out of town for our final day of the Route Inspection. The route for RAGBRAI day 7 is unique in that it has almost double the feet of climb of any other day along the route. But the numbers can be deceiving, most of the day consists of rolling hills. The really challenging hills come about 15 miles out from the end, between Garber and Guttenberg. But the last stretch of the route is along a very scenic highway, lined by gorgeous bluffs and that picturesque Mississippi Valley countryside so you may be too distracted to feel too much pain. We were lucky on the Route Inspection to ride through a gap in some passing showers so we made it to Guttenberg dry and happy.

Winthrop was our first stop of the day today, and we couldn’t argue with their claim to be the “Friendliest Town for Miles Around,” or their RAGBRAI theme, “Sowing the Seeds to Worldwide Friendship.” And don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by some Minions on your way through town, they’re pretty friendly too. Stop in Winthrop for your first breakfast of the day and get to know some of the locals, human or otherwise. You never know, they could end up being famous someday. Both Michelle Monaghan (actress and model) and Robert Gallery (recently retired NFL tackle/guard) claim Winthrop as their hometown.

Winthrop’s breakfast plans include Dad’s Belgian waffles at St. Pat’s Hall, breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls (we sampled these and they were DELICIOUS) and fruit. While you eat, you will be serenaded by the Swing Crew and Winthrop’s local jazz band. Finally, if you’re ready for a cool break, the Historical Center will be open (and air conditioned!).

Our second stop of the day will be Lamont, a small community in Buchanan County.  This town of 461 people has hosted RAGBRAI three previous times, the last in 2007 on the Independence to Dyersville day.

The town is gearing up for RAGBRAI and most of the food vendors will be set up along Main Street.  They will have breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls, coffee, pies, hamburgers, brats and hotdogs.

The Alibi Lounge will be hosting the town’s beverage garden.  They will have a DJ for your enjoyment!

After a ride through a roundabout, the next stop on the route is Strawberry Point. Strawberry Point originated as a campsite along The Old Mission Road, a strip of land leading from Dubuque to Fort Atkinson. The road was established to protect the Winnebago Indians from the hostile Sec and Fox tribes. Mission Street in Strawberry Point was part of the Old Mission Road.

Strawberry Point has launched an Aquatic Fund Project to help with renovations to the pool.  The original pool was built in 1973 and needs some major updates to keep up with the high demand for pool passes (up 12% every year).  If you can help, visit www.strawberrypt.com/Pool/AC_Plans.htm.

If you are a fan of the supernatural, check out the Franklin Hotel, and their resident ghost Lilly. She was supposedly an entertainer at the hotel in the 1920’s. The hotel owners say she is not menacing, merely mischievous. She apparently likes to take things and hide them. The owner is then supposed to ask her very nicely if she would bring it back. One of the owners does report seeing a figure of a woman dressed in a long ballroom dance outfit. So if you see her, keep track of your things lest they get ‘misplaced’.

Riders will be welcomed to Wilder Museum where they will find a wide variety of items including Victorian glass & furniture, heirloom dolls, military items, a Prairie Kitchen and a goat treadmill. Registered riders will enjoy free entry to the museum.

As you first enter town, look to your left for the Fire Trucks. The Fire Department will commandeer that property to host a band, beer garden, and grilled chicken breasts and pork loins. We sampled some of the items, along with what they plan to serve in town, and riders will not be disappointed. Proceeds go to a new fire station.

Back Home Country Cookin’ will be the primary food and entertainment venue. You’ll find all kinds of pie, along with BBQ Pork Shank and other items off the grill. Other establishments in town including Rod & Cal’s, Lil’ Jacks, Nading’s, and Strawberry Foods will also have a variety of food offerings available.

Blue Grass, Country and Rock are featured at the entertainment venues at Back Home Country Cookin’, the Fire Department location, and Strawberry Foods.

Oh, and don’t forget your photo op with the World’s Largest Strawberry in Strawberry Point!

For more information on Strawberry Point’s RAGBRAI plans, visit: http://www.strawberrypt.com/RAGBRAI/

We will visit Edgewood for the first time ever this year on RAGBRAI! It’s the last day of the ride but don’t breeze on through, it really is a neat place to explore. Their first licensed winery, Café Rose might be a good place to start, it’s on North Washington Street.

When RAGBRAI isn’t in town, Edgewood is known throughout the US for their Pro Rodeo Days Celebration at the end of June. Over 12,000 people visit for the rodeo.

Edgewood is also famous for their former resident, Rudy the two-headed pig. Unfortunately Rudy is no longer with us, but during his time he thrived and grew to almost 150 lbs. Normally two-headed animals do not survive long after birth, so Rudy truly was a special pig. Check out a video of Rudy here: http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/weird-true-and-freaky/videos/rudy-two-faced-pig.htm

Ready for lunch before you head on toward the river? Edgewood will have plenty of food and drink options. We’d suggest local vendors Rose Cafe who will have wraps, or Franny’s Brat on a Stick. Other vendors will include Korean BBQ, smoothies, burgers, tenderloins and corndogs! If you stop in Edgewood, you won’t go hungry.

If you’re up for a little extra exploring, check out Bixby Sate Preserve & Park, just three miles North of Edgewood. The park has a unique ecosystem due to its natural ice caves that are cooled by a system of underground sinkholes. It’s one of the few places on Earth to have something called algific talus slopes (an algae covered cliff rising out of the cave).

Keep up with Edgewood’s developing RAGBRAI plans here: https://www.facebook.com/edgewoodragbrai.org

The last stop on RAGBRAI XLII is Guttenberg (out of towners take note – the Gut in Guttenberg is pronounced the same way as that feeling you get in your gut) and it’s a class act all the way. In the past several years Guttenberg has earned several accolades including:
*One of the US’ prettiest towns by Forbes Magazine in 2009
*Best old house neighborhoods, waterfront category by This Old House
*Named an Iowa Great Place by the IA Department of Cultural Affairs
*Keep Iowa Beautiful granted Guttenberg the Community Award of Excellence for outstanding beautification efforts of the community and the Mississippi Riverfront
*Received the Iowa Environmental Excellence Award for their efforts to protect and enhance Iowa’s natural resources

After you dip your tire in the Mississippi, you might as well take a look around the riverfront. The Lock & Dam #10 is a great place to start. Tours are offered and a viewing platform will give you a great viewpoint for watching boats and barges pass through the dam. The Lockmaster’s House Museum is also at the Lock & Dam and contains all sort of interesting historical artifacts.

You may also want to wander down to the Ingleside and Riverside parks. They’re a gorgeous way to see the Mississippi up close, as there is two mile walking trail along them. These parks are considered by residents and locals alike as two of the most attractive parks on the Mississippi.

If you’ll be staying a while the riverfront offers great fishing, boating, sandbar camping and lots of places to canoe and kayak.

Once you’re done exploring and you are starting to return to “normal life” you might want to clean up a bit. The South Marina, just below the dam, has a center with restrooms, showers and a meeting room.

1 Response on “RAGBRAI Pre-Ride Day 7 – Independence to Guttenberg

Doug Schmidt

June 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

In case the writer of this article didn’t know this and for anyone who may be reading this the Franklin Hotel has food and is planning a Buffet/Bloody Mary bar for the enjoyment of anyone passing by. With seating for up to 200 in its dining rooms.

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