RAGBRAI Pre-Ride Day 5 - Cedar Falls to Hiawatha
- 4 June, 2015
Cedar Falls RAGBRAI Committee, thank you for the warm welcome, and showing us around Main Street Cedar Falls – and for the Hairball preview!! We have to admit that we didn’t quite believe you that It’s Downhill from Here, but with tailwinds for most of the day… we are convinced! Our Route Inspection today had a foggy beginning, with low visibility but warm temperatures. But by the time we finished our second breakfast the fog had burned off and it was a beautiful sunny day. We rode over a few small sections of gravel, but those will be paved by the time RAGBRAI rolls through. We rode 69.6 miles, and had 2,669 feet of climb, but the hills are rolling and not as challenging as those on the first day of the ride. The cities we visited today were Cedar Falls, Hudson, La Porte City, Mount Auburn, Vinton (meeting town), Shellsburg, Palo, and Hiawatha. As soon as we arrived in Hiawatha, we were treated to a welcome no biker can complain about – dinner with the Hiawatha Fire Department. This was a Thursday to remember!
This will be RAGBRAI’s fourth trip to Hudson, with the last visit just five years ago. Hudson will be the first town on the route, just 8 miles south of Cedar Falls to start Thursday’s ride. Hudson is home to 2,282 residents in Black Hawk County.
“Hudson Days” is the town’s big city festival that takes place the week before and their theme this year is “Enjoy the Ride!”
You will be visiting the Home of the Hudson Pirates and you just might see some pirates walking around and mingling. You might just see a pirate ship as well…. Aarrrrghhh!
Some of Hudson’s restaurants, grocers and pubs will be ready to welcome riders. The Neighborhood Grill (a new restaurant in town) will be serving breakfast burritos, flap jacks and breakfast sandwiches. Hansen’s Family Dairy will have their famous fresh cheese curds! Randall’s Grocery will be serving a variety of fresh grilled or smoked meats. The Federal Pub, the Triangle Tap and Hudson AMVETS will both have plenty of drinks for the cyclists. There will be plenty of pie and bacon items. The town will also welcome out of town vendors.
The town will also have music playing to keep the crowds entertained.
And lastly… Hudson is the hometown of Mark Wyatt of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.
La Porte City
One of the first things you will notice as you make the right turn onto Main Street is the signature brick streets of La Porte City. These have been around since the days the town was first established. Legend has it that at the time of the town’s beginnings, surveyors were lured into town by strategically placed jugs of whiskey along the route between Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids. You won’t find whiskey along the RAGBRAI route, but you may find a food vendor or two!
Speaking of food vendors… Tootsie’s Ice Cream & More located downtown has all the frosty treats you will want. Or if breakfast is more what you’re thinking when you roll into town, La Porte City Bakery, Etc is known for confectionary treats and the best glazed donut in the state (we sampled them, and we can see why!!). You may also want to check out Kramer Sausage Company, home of the Turkey Leg served at the Iowa State Fair and a certain Tender turkey company we see every day along the ride. And for all you pizza lovers on the ride – The Pizza Palace – will be open and serving breakfast pizza so you can enjoy “the best pizza ever”
There is so much to do in La Porte City, you may want to plan on spending some time here. They will be setting up a special bike museum as you first enter town, or you can check out their Ag Musuem (the state’s first FFA Museum) – which is very modern and has so much more than just agricultural displays, including a hands-on exhibit where you can experience milking Maggie the Cow! You will also be able to visit the recently renovated historic jail and firehouse on the corner of Chestnut and First Street, the Hawkins Memorial Library (which provides services that preserve and transmit culture), the community orchard and raised bed gardens, and something that some cyclists will be very familiar with, the Cedar Valley Nature Trail that runs from through La Porte City – if you haven’t been before, come back another time to ride this trail!
FYI – the La Porte City Swimming Pool is located on Tama Street as you ride into town and will be open to riders.
Follow La Porte City’s RAGBRAI plans here: http://theprogressreview.co/category/ragbrai/
This will be our first visit to Mt. Auburn, and we suggest you take a stop in Hometown, USA. Some of the proceeds from our visit will go toward making their church handicapped accessible. Residents of Mt. Auburn love the small-town vibe of their community where people still say “hi” and wave to each other, and take a moment of their busy day to chat.
Mt. Auburn was named for the elevated position of the town compared to the rest of the railroad line – it is the highest point between Minneapolis and St. Louis. Because of the railroad, Mt. Auburn was a booming town in the 1800s with a population over 400. Unfortunately due to a cyclone in the early 1900s and a tornado in the 1960s the population has declined and many historic buildings were lost. Today, Mt. Auburn has a Post Office, American Legion, Methodist Church, and a Fire Station.
Residents are excited to be hosting RAGBRAI and will be ready to be the first lunch stop of our day. The Methodist Church, American Legion, and Fire Department will be serving food, and vendors include Three Blind Pigs, Tender Tom’s Turkey, Amos Fabulous Foods, Garden of Eden, and Americana Concessions. We sampled food at the Legion, which will be serving chicken sandwiches, pork loin sandwiches, burgers, pasta salad (very tasty), scotcheroos (RECOMMENDED!), chips, blond brownies, string cheese, veggie bags, and fruit.
There will also be a beer garden with a DJ, games, photo ops, t-shirts for sale, and a massage booth.
On your way out of town you may want to stop to see the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, veterans from the Civil War to the present are buried there, and the landscaping is beautiful. This cemetery was a participant in Wreaths Across America in 2014.
Keep up with Mt. Auburn’s RAGBRAI plans here: https://www.facebook.com/mt.auburn.ragbrai2015
Vinton (Meeting Town)
Vinton will welcome RAGBRAI riders into town in black & gold fashion, the colors of the community’s school and the Iowa Hawkeye dance team and Herky the Hawk, who will give the riders a warm welcome! The route through town will be adorned by hundreds of American Flags with a giant flag flying from a ladder truck!
Entertainment, food & shade will be hot spots in downtown where all of the town’s festivities will happen. A local DJ will keep the atmosphere fun and inviting with music throughout the afternoon, so hang out on the courthouse lawn and listen to the music of our local DJ. Take a run down the giant inflatable slip & slide to cool off or have fun with Giant Beer Pong. Have your picture taken at several photo ops around town! Don’t forget to milk the cow before you leave! (The last time Vinton hosted, the RAGBRAIers wore out the udders of the cow!)
Expect to see the return of the BIG BIKE that have appeared at a few RAGBRAIs but was built by Mike Elwick of Vinton for RAGBRAI XL.
Vinton will allow outside vendors into town along with some of our local groups coming together to help prepare some of the yummiest food around! Can you say PIE and ICE CREAM?
The Backpocket Brewery will have a beverage garden in downtown as well as the Ron-Da-Voo Lounge.
Some neat places you might visit include the Iowa Braille & Sight Saving School and the Historical Train Depot. Vinton also has over 25 chainsaw carvings around town as a result of the 2011 derecho wind storm that destroyed 75% of the community’s trees. Vinton recently opened Celebration Park on the Cedar River. The area was the former site of many destroyed homes during the floods of 2008.
Vinton hosted RAGBRAI as pass-through town just one other time, back in 2012. The also served as an overnight town for RAGBRAI VI in 1978.
With an early history peppered with stories of horse thieves, robbers, regulators and vigilantes, Shellsburg has since become a bustling community. The theme for RAGBRAI will be “Biking The Bridge” to help celebrate the 100th birthday of the historic spandrel bridge located between the park and the main business district. No RSVP is necessary! The bridge was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
There will be lots to eat in Shellsburg, including local non-profits that will offer a variety of food. This includes several different types of brat patties from the local grocer (try the jalapeno and cheese patty if you like a little kick!). If you need souvenirs for friends and family, the Picket Fence is a craft and gift store, and Divine Decadence is a candy and confection store. If you’d like a little refreshment, check out Coop’s Roadhouse and/or the Pearl Street Social Club, or the beverage garden located in the Park.
Other entertainment activities include the 100th Birthday Party at the Park – free cake, party favors, and of course a miniature pony! There will also be a lively local band will play in the beverage garden, and great photo ops of the birthday bridge located right next to the park. Or if you’re ready to cross-train, there is an 18-hole golf course in town.
Proceeds from our visit will go to: completing of a prairie trail on school grounds, creek bank improvements in the park, and recent placement of a Freedom Rock (unfortunately not yet painted).
Palo will be the last pass-through town of our day. It’s located near the Duane Arnold Energy Center, which is the only nuclear power plant in Iowa. In 2008, Palo experienced major flooding and the entire town was evacuated. Luckily, the power plant was not touched by the floodwaters.
Let us tell you, Palo is a great spot to take a break before you head into Hiawatha. Stop for a drink at Brogan’s Pub & Grub, or take a nap in the park at the Palo Community Center. There is also a Pool at the Community Center if the RAGBRAI day turns out to be a hot one and you need to cool off. If you need to pick up any last-minute supplies, there is a gas station on the way out of town.
Hiawatha is a community of 7,200 residents located on the north west side of the Cedar Rapids metro area. We are looking forward to returning for the second time since 2004! It has been 11 years since the last time RAGBRAI has come through town and a lot has changed since then. Hiawatha is the youngest town along the route, established in 1950, making it very unique since they do not have a lot of history many other communities have. That means each change made to the community makes a big impact. They are extremely proud of how far they have come over the last 65 years, and they hope RAGBRAI riders will see how beautiful and welcoming they are.
Hiawatha has blossomed since 2004 which has been a great challenge to overcome when it comes to planning for this year’s overnight stop. They have welcomed many new businesses into town, added new development, built a new City Hall in 2008, and continue to improve the town by the day! As riders enter town the route will bring them in along the same route as 2004 so riders will be able to see the changes Hiawatha has made since the last time they rode through.
Riders will enter into a blast from the past into the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s where they can Throwback the day in the main event area located in Guthridge Park. They will be offering a campground, two stages where the Bryce Janey Band, Pop Rocks (you remember this awesome band from the Route Announcement Party last January), Dennis DeYoung: The Music of Styx and the Pork Tornados will showcase the night! Food vendors, bike shops and the main Throwback Thursday beverage garden will all take place during our Hiawatha’s fun-filled day of activities. Doug Wagner, from WMT will be the main MC for the day and continue to engage our RAGBRAI fans with comedy as he has been the main face for our social media Thursday videos since the start of planning back in February. If you haven’t already, follow his weekly videos on the Hiawatha Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ragbraihiawatha.
Entertainment will begin at 2:00 p.m. with the Janey Band located at the Guthridge Park band shell from 2-4pm. Then the music acts will transfer to the main stage at the other end of the beverage area in Guthridge Park at 4:30pm with Pop Rocks opening for Dennis DeYoung: The Music of Styx who will start at 8:30pm. To finish off the night we will transition back to the band shell for Pork Tornados from 10-12pm.
The beer garden will open at 1 p.m. with several favorite craft beers provided by 7G Distributors. 20-25 food vendors will provide delicious offerings such as pie, lasagna, Mediterranean cuisine and perennial favorites such as pizza and burgers and church style dinners. There are also many local restaurants throughout Hiawatha along Center Point and Boyson Road.
Two shuttles will be staffed with volunteer community guides circling Hiawatha, providing easy access to all the campgrounds and activities for the day. All of thier camping areas will be located about a mile away from the main event making it easy for all riders and guests to get to get where they need to.
If guests feel like more riding, we have the Cedar Valley Trail, located off of Boyson Road where you can enjoy more scenic views of Iowa.
So, if you are looking to take a journey through the decades and Throw it back on Thursday, July 23rd Hiawatha residents will be ready to welcome you in to the great City of Hiawatha where they live, work and PLAY! They hope you enjoy all of the fun and exciting entertainment they have to offer and hope to welcome you back in the coming years!
Follow Hiawatha’s RAGBRAI plans and Doug’s Throwback Thursday videos here: https://www.facebook.com/ragbraihiawatha (on Facebook), on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ragbraihiawatha or on the official RAGBRAI Hiawatha website: http://ragbraihiawatha.com/
Can’t wait for the next blog post to come out? Follow us LIVE on the RAGBRAI Route Tracker here: www.DesMoinesRegister.com/TrackRAGBRAI
For more information on RAGBRAI XLIII Day 5 – Cedar Falls to Hiawatha:
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