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Dip site?

Anyone know if there is a safe path to a dip site on the river near Glenwood? It looks like L35 will get there, but is there a lot of traffic on that road? I hear Glenwood will have a mobile dip station, but that is not the same. How has this been done other times Glenwood was the start town? I’m thinking of riding to the river Friday morning as I drive into the state. Any suggestions will be appreciated!

18 Replies

jwsknk, May 24, 2016 at 8:27 am

other times we have left town heading towards the river, not this year, up out of town to the NE, the first 30 miles will be the most challenging of the day.


KenH, May 24, 2016 at 8:53 am

Haven’t heard anything except a report that last time Glenwood hosted the event the dip site was a kiddie pool filled with river water because the river itself is “too dangerous”. I don’t absolutely have to dip my tires in the river to have a great RAGBRAI but I find kiddie pools and other mobile dip sites to be intellectually offensive. The tradition is not crucial to success and to my mind these compromise dip sites are much worse than having no dip site at all. In a sense the tradition goes all the way back to Sargon the great who built the first Akkadian (the root language of Babylon and Assyria) speaking empire in ancient Mesopotamia. At the end of his campaign to conquer the local city states he washed his weapons in the Persian Gulf and at least some say that he later conquered territory all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and performed the same ritual in that body of water. By that tradition it is the Mississippi dip that is the more important. A kiddie pool means nothing. But then I was raised by Baptists and we take dipping rituals seriously. If you come to us to be baptized we’re gonna’ dunk ya, no sprinkling or pouring done here! Perhaps that has colored my opinion of kiddie pool dunk sites. If there is no way to do it safely in the actual Missouri or Big Sioux River then my personal policy is to just skip it. Whatever value the ritual has is not served by substitutes.

The nearest safe dipping site that I know of is in the Tom Hanafan park in Council Bluffs where we dipped in 2013 and that is twenty some miles away. There might be a safe site in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, which is only tenish miles from Glenwood. I would take safety seriously especially when it comes to encouraging others to use a site as there is no great value in the ritual itself that would justify taking risks to accomplish it.


gbtrektn, May 24, 2016 at 10:59 am

Glenwood set up a water truck full of MO river brown sprinkling over the road to ride thru in past years. Not the full wheel baptism but much appreciated. We used back roads S. Locust St. to Kane Ave. thru Pacific Junction to Karns Rd. to L35 at the river. Look for a dirt road between car and RR bridges down to the river. Hwy. 34 does not have access to the river. Low lying area so not many roads. Good luck.


KenH, May 24, 2016 at 11:55 am

That looks doable road-wise. You can get a pretty good view of the potential dip site on the Google Maps street level view. Your chances of falling in the river will vary with river conditions. They were probably low when the Google van drove by. Traffic on L35 does not look heavy in the Google photos. The bridge across the river is a toll bridge, you can “stop” by the toll booth on the west end and read the rates using Google! It plainly says pedestrians are not permitted on the bridge but apparently bicycles are because the bicycle rate is 25 cents. There appears to be a boat landing on Dock Road in Plattsmouth if the Iowa side dip site looks too treacherous when you get there. That should be safe unless the river is raging.


88domer, May 24, 2016 at 4:24 pm

I can only add dated support for that route, as it’s been seven years since we lived in that area (and we all know that traffic during RAGBRAI can turn any sleepy side route into a quagmire). But L35 is typically pretty quiet, as most traffic uses US 34 or goes up to I-80 to get across the river.


“Bicycle Bill”, May 24, 2016 at 6:02 pm

Seeing how as far back as 1979 when they started RAGBRAI VII in Rock Rapids (which is something like 22 miles as the crow flies from the Big Sioux River), it became apparent to me that the “tradition” of dipping your rear wheel into the Missouri or its tributary at the start and your front wheel into the Mississippi at the finish had lost whatever significance it might have ever held.



Sandaltan ., May 24, 2016 at 11:07 pm

I may just pee on my back wheel and call it good enough. Budweiser is still brewed in Saint Louis and that is on the Missouri so what the hey!!

RIDE RIGHT (After dark of course)


“Bicycle Bill”, May 25, 2016 at 2:08 am

Sandaltan said:
I may just pee on my back wheel and call it good enough. Budweiser is still brewed in Saint Louis and that is on the Missouri so what the hey!!

That’s very similar to the logic they used back in 1979; since Rock Rapids was on the Rock River, which flowed into the Big Sioux River which eventually flowed into the Missouri River, the powers that were said that as it was a tributary it was good enough.



KenH, May 25, 2016 at 8:04 am

There’s another element to the traditional ritual that adds to the explanation of why kiddie pools and tributaries don’t satisfy some of us. The actual tire dipping is just an affectation that as I said goes back to at least Sargon the Great. He lived early enough in the history of writing that any earlier manifestations of this ritual are probably lost to history forever. The point of starting the ride on the Missouri or Big Sioux and ending on the Mississippi is not so much to get your tires wet, although those rituals do add to our enjoyment of the experience, as it is to ride border to border. A kiddie pool filled with or fire truck spraying Missouri River water 22 miles from the border is not the border, is it? I’d rather take a final tune up ride on Saturday to get to the border even if safety concerns prevent me from actually dipping my rear tire than to perform an empty gesture on Sunday with trucked in river water.

But that is an intellectual position, not necessarily what I will actually do. In practice on any given year when the official start is not on the border I may well just take Saturday off to enjoy the Expo and skip whatever alternative is on offer for the Sunday dip as I did in 2014. In this case, however, the border is only 10 miles away, there is the additional amusement of crossing a toll bridge on a bicycle, and if one were to dip at the Nebraska boat ramp and then later in the week drop down to Missouri on the road south out of Mt Ayr you’d have a three state ride. So if I have the time I might pedal over to Plattsmouth on Saturday.


rjjensenia, May 25, 2016 at 8:35 am

My first ragbrai was III (back when it still started in August) even though the Big Sioux River was right there on the western border of the town I did not choose to dip. To each their own, but it wasn’t important to me and it still isn’t. I have never dipped even once in all these years.


Brian Wallenburg, May 25, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Sioux River 22 miles from Rock Rapids hasn’t stopped me. Ride Rite and dip! Matter of fact, I kind of like the dip a few miles away from the start town. Limits the congestion.


jwsknk, May 26, 2016 at 8:32 am

John Karras once said this whole dip at the start thing was something he ever imagined and doesn’t really thinks to be important. But then again a lot of things that happen on the ride he never imagined happening.


LawnchairMan, May 27, 2016 at 7:16 pm

Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. Sandaltan’s idea of peeing on the back wheel is one I hadn’t thought of. Coming cross country I could get drinks in Colorado and say I pedaled from there!

I agree with Ken that the idea of dipping is to be able to say I pedaled from one edge of the state to the other. Transporting river water to Glenwood is pointless.

88domer thanks for the info on L35 traffic. I will probably stop on my way into the state and see how busy it looks. If it is too busy I will just forgo the whole thing.


KenH, July 18, 2016 at 8:31 am

FYI, I noticed this information in the latest Pork Belly Ventures newsletter:

“River water will be brought in to Glenwood so that riders can dip their back tires in town. There will be a dip tank next to the ball field complex, just north of the city tennis courts (across from the high school). [This is right around the corner from our PBV campsite.]

“To dip in the Missouri River itself, riders can obtain bracelets for the dip on a donation basis.

“Clay Lincoln will be in front of JWren Boutique (16 N.Walnut St.) selling dip bracelets on a donation basis. [This is on the Town Square where the Expo and festivities will be going on.]

“Proceeds from the donations will go to the Glenwood Baseball Program, i.e. renovations to the dugouts and concession stand at the Vine Street baseball field.

“The river dip site is located 8 miles southwest of downtown Glenwood. Ride south on Locust Street and keep going straight out of town past McDonalds. The street turns into 221st St. / L35. Keep going west until you reach Lincoln Riverview Acres – just to the left of the Plattsmouth Bridge.
“Proceed down the lane to the boat ramp to dip your back tire in the river. A donation bucket will be there at the dip site as well.

“If you have further questions, call Clay Lincoln at 402-670-1679.”

So there are two options, trucked in water and an actual river dip site. Also note that Glenwood apparently feels comfortable with suggesting that the county road over to Plattsmouth, NE is safe for bicycle travel. I’ll probably avail myself of the actual river dip site, don’t know if I will still pay a visit to Plattsmouth or not but it would be fun to cross the river on a toll bridge!


Juan Medium Moose, July 18, 2016 at 1:26 pm

If the weather is good, I’ll be up for riding out to the dip site (and across the bridge too). It would be nice to do this as a group ride so there are more of us on the road to look out for one another.

Otherwise, the Keg Creek runs through town and flows into the Missouri River. I’ll be content to dip my tire in that. Two years ago, my first RAGBRAI, we dipped our tires in the Rock River.


Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)

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