RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Day 4 – Indianola to Centerville

Yesterday we had the Shortest Ride to the Longest Party in Indianola so today we’re doing a 180 and riding our longest daily mileage of the week!

All told it was 84.3 miles with 3,252 feet of climb. Where yesterday we had just a few pass through towns, today we had lots of options: Lake Ahquabi State Park, Liberty Center, Lacona, Chariton (Meeting Town), Millerton, Bethlehem, Confidence, Walnut City, Honey Creek Resort (Karras Loop Only), Mystic, and Centerville. Those who added the Karras Loop to their ride also added 32.3 miles (for a total of 116.6 miles) and 1,310 feet of climb (for a total of 4,562 ft. of climb). Click this text for a map of the fourth day of RAGBRAI XLVII.

Wednesday is PeopleForBikes Day! PeopleForBikes is the movement to improve bicycling in the U.S. By collaborating with millions of individual riders, businesses, community leaders, and elected officials, PeopleForBikes unites Americans to boost bicycling on a national level for results that can be seen locally. Find out more and support them today at:

PeopleForBikes is also the parent organization of DRAFT – the Meetups that Andrea Parrott (RAGBRAI) and Kathy Murphy (Iowa Bicycle Coalition) host four times per year across Iowa. These Meetups are a place to talk bikes, drink a craft beer, hear some fast-paced, interesting talks on cycling, and maybe even do a little networking. We’ll have two more DRAFTs in the Fall of 2019 so stay tuned to for more info!

Brian Powers left us today and Zach “Juice” Boyden Holmes joined us as our Official Photographer. Thanks Brian for a great start to the week!

2019 RAGBRAI pre-ride: Day 4, Indianola to Centerville

2019 RAGBRAI pre-ride: Day 4, Indianola to Centerville

Here are the towns that we visited today:

LAKE AHQUABI STATE PARK (Yes, we know it’s not a town! Just visit and enjoy)

“Ahquabi” is a Sauk and Fox word meaning “resting place,” and it is a fitting name for this scenic 770-acre park. The park site was recommended by “Ding” Darling, nationally known Iowa political cartoonist and conservationist from the Des Moines Register, and was dedicated in 1936. Many of its structures were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930’s and remain available for the enjoyment of park visitors.

At this point, we are not sure of the plans for food items that might be available for purchase at Lake Ahquabi State Park of the Isaac Walton League which is across the street.

For more information on Lake Ahquabi State Park, visit:



Liberty Center is working together to make sure you have a great breakfast stop on RAGBRAI XLVII! Proceeds from our visit will go to the American Legion, the local church, and SE Warren High School with a focus on fundraising for the new American Legion Hall. Breakfast vendors will include Farm Boys, Breakfast Delight, Flipping Flapjacks, Reinharts, and more! All the vendors will be in the park.

They will have American flag reflective decals for a free will donation.

If you need a bathroom stop the high school will be open. That’s right, real porcelain pottys! It’s 1 1/2 blocks from the main route.

On your way through town, stop and notice the four way stop sign – there isn’t a sign on each corner, there are four signs all at the center of the road. It’s hard to describe but it’s pretty unique.

Don’t forget too look up the Liberty Center Legion 100 – a 100K/60 mile gravel ride they have in June.

For more information on Liberty Center’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:



Lacona was founded in 1856 and has always been a farming community. It’s location in the far southeast corner of the county has created an independent spirit among the community, being far enough from everything to be something.

As riders descend into town, food will be available at the South Central Co-op.  The RAGBRAI Bike Repair shop will be located across from the co-op.  A short distance up the hill into town you will find the Fire Station and Winn’s Restaurant both serving breakfast items.  Continue on to the top of the hill into the downtown and you will find Biscuits and Gravy at the Legion, and grilled pork loins cooked up by the masters at Backroads Bar.  The beverage garden can be found at the top of the hill, and loads of shade will be available in the park.

Backroads Bar will be serving Bloody Marys, Vodka Lemonades, beer and other mixed drinks.  A DJ will be in the garden as well to entertain riders as they rest up from the hill climbing that occurs during this day.

Some sites to see and things to check out:

  • Willis Log Cabin—19th century cabin relocated to the center of town behind the Fire Station
  • Winn’s Restaurant will be open for RAGBRAI
  • Backroads Bar and Grill will have food and drink

Whitebreast Creek, a tributary of the Des Moines River, runs just east of town. It has been responsible for the scenic hills in the area.  Take in the views at the top of each hill, they are fantastic.


CHARITON (Meeting Town)

Chariton will be welcoming the riders with an entertaining and rejuvenating break on the longest ride of the week and then send them on their way with extra energy to finish the route! Look forward to a ‘wheelie’ good time on the Chariton square.

There will be plenty of food options in Chariton, both local and outside vendors will be serving on the west and south sides of the square. Food options include:  Pie, Thelma’s Ice Cream, Beefburgers, CarboHut, Latin American Cuisine, along with local restaurants

Entertainment and activities on the Chariton square include bath tub races, knocker ball, human tractor pull, football throw competition, live music, and local dance performances. The local movie theatre, Vision II will have their doors open to visit, purchase popcorn, and a free children’s movie will be played in the afternoon.

Be sure to see Old Betsy, our 1883 Silsby Steam Fire Engine will be on display on the square. Take a photo south of the square with our ‘Wheelie Good Time’ display.

The annual Lucas County Fair will be in full force, specifically the cattle show that day!

Check out the Hotel Charitone, Piper’s Candy Store, Lucas County Historical Society Museum, Lucas County Veteran’s Memorial Park, Red Haw State Park, and Pin Oak Marsh.

Some neat restaurants and places to check out include the Porch Coffee House, Piper’s Candy Store, the Office, Double Dip, Chuckwagon, Granny’s Kitchen, and Hy-Vee Market Grille in Hotel Charitone.

The character of our community and local economy is significantly influenced by the many long-term family owned businesses that are rooted in Chariton. From Johnson Machine Works, Piper’s, Connecticut Yankee Pedaller, C&C Cycle, to Fat Baggers Inc. The history of our local businesses tells a great story of our community and will continue to do so as they grow!

Visit the newly restored Hotel Charitone that houses 12 apartments and the only stand-alone Hy-Vee Market Grille.

Chariton is working hard to save, restore, and improve our historic buildings. Many of our buildings completed a façade update project in 2014. The next priority for the Chariton square is improving the sidewalks.

Chariton is a community of volunteerism. As any small town, the people are what makes us great. Our volunteer fire department is an excellent example of that.  The Chariton Volunteer Fire Department currently has 35 members, ranging in age from 21 to 70.  At the State Fireman’s Convention they have won their division at the State Fireman’s Convention for the last 10 years!


For more information on Chariton’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:



Millerton is one of the smallest towns on the RAGBRAI route this year.  The town population is just 45 people according to the last census.  The Wayne County town has hosted RAGBRAI 4 previous times, the last one in 2016.

They have a nice shady park and will have snacks and drinks in the park.



Back in the 1800s this town was home to three grocery stores, six doctors, three churches, two dentists and a post office. After the railroad and coal mining business dried up in the area, most people packed up and left. Today all you will see of Bethlehem is a tiny chapel and the Clark family home.

Bethlehem Chapel will be open to the public. If you are a couple interested in getting married on RAGBRAI this year, this would hands-down be the place to do it. Though the chapel itself is tiny, you can fit 10,000 of your best friends on the lawn outside.

For more information on Bethlehem from our last few visits:



Confidence has hosted RAGBRAI several times in the past and the New Providence Baptist Church has always provided some great food options for the riders.  Confidence is late in the day, so they can provide some nice refreshments to tired riders.

For more information on Confidence’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:



Karras Loop riders will get two chances to pass through Walnut City. Everyone else will make the final turn South here as they head to Mystic and on into Centerville.



The optional Karras Loop is a whopping 32.3 extra miles this year so you may want to decide ahead of time if you want to make the loop. If you do, you’ll be able to pick up your Karras Loop Patch from RAGBRAI co-founder John Karras himself at Honey Creek Resort. Note: this is the only place that you’ll be able to do so, if you do the loop be sure to drop in to the resort before moving on.

Take the turn off of J18 to get into the resort.  Follow the access road all the way to the main building of the resort.  Riders will find all activities on the lake side of the main building.  There will be a small stage with entertainment, and several food vendors on the grass behind the resort.  The restaurant will be open to serve riders as well.  That’s also where riders will pick up their loop patch. There will also be a band for the riders – Keifer Brandt and Scott Larson.

Historic or interesting things about the town:
Rathbun Lake is one of the largest lakes in Iowa, and was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1971, with Richard Nixon as the keynote speaker at the ribbon cutting ceremony. The lake is known for its diverse wildlife and many opportunities for outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, and boating.

Honey Creek Resort State Park was developed as a part of Iowa’s Destination State Park Initiative. Honey Creek Resort itself was very recently declared financially stable and sold to a private operator.

For more information on Honey Creek Resort and Rathbun Lake, visit:



Mystic will be the last town before riders head to Centerville. Founded in 1887, Mystic was booming between 1910 and 1920 with a population of 2800. These were the coal mining days. Mystic had approximately 20 coal mines.

A fire in 1910 destroyed the East end (business district) of Main Street and a fire in 1911 destroyed the West end of Main Street. All the businesses were rebuilt.

The original brick main street in Mystic was laid in 1918 and still remains today. The bricks were made in Centerville, IA. The old water tower for the Milwaukee Railroad in Mystic is the only one remaining in the state, it is located south of Main Street (along the rail road tracks). Mystic has the only remaining steam engine water tower in the state of Iowa.

Mystic’s local Community Center ladies, Cemetery Association ladies and volunteer fire fighters will be serving food and beer. They are going to be having their food and beer court at The Fire Station this year instead of down town as they had in 2016.  The Fire Station is located on the north side of Mystic before riders get to the big hill heading out of town.

They will be serving tenderloins, maid rites, pickles on a stick, baked beans, pasta salad, frozen candy bars, pop, Gatorade, water and beer.

For more information on the city of Mystic, visit:



It will be the third time since 1981 that Centerville has hosted RAGBRAI riders for an overnight stay. With the most recent being 2016. Centerville was a pass-through town in 1992 and 2003. We loved visiting so much that we had to come back for more! Centerville is a town of 5,448 citizens, and is home to famous opera singer Simon Estes and former Iowa Gov. Francis Drake, who founded Drake University.

Appanoose County houses the largest downtown square in Iowa.  The Historic Square District is a unique, large, two-block-long square full of buildings over 100 years old, as well as a 112-year-old courthouse.   The municipal bandshell located on the square has survived for over 125 years.

Located near Rathbun Lake and Honey Creek Resort, you’ll find lots of outdoor activities in the area.


  • Beverage garden will be downtown surrounding the courthouse square
  • Food vendors will also be found at the square


  • RAGBRAI staple band Pork Tornadoes will play center stage on the square downtown.
  • There are several haunted houses located in Centerville. The Iowa Paranormal Group is based in Appanoose County.

Other Items of Interest:

  • Appanoose County Historical & Coal Mining Museum: a 112-year-old federal building houses artifacts from Appanoose County’s heritage, including a vast amount of coal mining history.
  • The Shoppes at Bradley Hall: A 1921 mansion built by banker D.C. Bradley. Its opulent construction now houses a shop full of unique items.
  • Famous citizens of Centerville include Simon Estes, Governor Francis M. Drake, Morgan Cline, Major George Landers, Designer of the Tommy Gun, Oscar Payne, Norma Talmadge.
  • Infamous events in town include the fact that the shooter of the Valentine’s Day Massacre was married in Centerville. Many mafia connections and lots of bootlegging came out of the county during Prohibition.


For more information about Centerville’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
Also – check out our recent interview with The Pork Tornadoes’ Mike Schulte:

We recorded a preview of our journey from Indianola to Centerville on the JustGoBike Podcast! Listen here:

Don’t forget to check back for daily updates and photos from the route inspection ride here on the RAGBRAI  site You can also follow the pre-ride adventure and learn interesting tidbits about the route by following on Facebook or on TWITTER by following @RAGBRAI_IOWA@TJRAGBRAI, or @RAGBRAI_Andrea

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