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RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Recap Day 3 – Pocahontas to Emmetsburg

  • 15 June, 2022

We love Pocahontas! But on RAGBRAI you always have to start biking sometime, or you’ll get left in the dust. We stopped and toured the Pocahontas statue on our way out of town.

Eighteen riders gathered on this picturesque Tuesday morning. If you took the paved route, Day Three’s ride was 58.3 miles with approximately 756 feet of climb. If you ride the gravel route, expect 48 miles with 815 feet of climb. So either way, a comfortable distance and not much climbing. On our way from Pocahontas to Emmetsburg, we visited Havelock, Rolfe, West Bend, and Rodman. Click this text for a map of the third day of RAGBRAI XLIX. We had five Route Inspections ride the whole gravel route – Matt Phippen, Dale Hentzel, Scott Olson, Scott Sumpter and Jennifer Boldry.

The paved route on Day Three intersects with the gravel route three times – in Rolfe, West Bend, and in Rodman, before joining back up again in Emmetsburg. So if you like you can ride as much or as little gravel as you want. By all accounts the gravel was good quality and well maintained. If you want to hear a little more about the gravel route, check out the JustGoBike Podcast episode from this day, when Murph and AP interview gravel route rider Scott Sumpter from

Tuesday of RAGBRAI XLIX is a celebration of the Dream Team’s 25th Anniversary! The Dream Team is a five month program that partners youth with adult mentors in the Des Moines area to provide a unique opportunity to build relationships, achieve personal growth, and learn life skills. And it culminates in riding across Iowa on RAGBRAI! For more:



Havelock’s theme is The Best Part of Waking Up is Havelock! Follow their page on Facebook to keep up with their RAGBRAI plans – just click this text!

Only paved route riders will catch Havelock on RAGBRAI this year – so choose the first portion of your ride wisely! Havelock was indeed one of the best parts of waking up and riding. We stopped at Hoolio’s bar and had biscuits and gravy and some delightful pie samples. Oh yeah, and coffee!!

Other entertainment in Havelock will include: Hoolio’s Bar, Fire Department “Gets Hosed” fundraiser, plywood signage, yard games, goat yoga, and more! Vendors will include: Chris Cakes, Hoolios biscuits and gravy (yes please), mimosas, bananas, and bloodies. Outside vendors will include HOQ and Heartland Nosh & Coffee.



From there, we rolled into Rolfe! It looks like their Facebook page is just getting off the ground, but stay tuned: Follow their page on Facebook to keep up with their RAGBRAI plans – just click this text!
We’re going to call Rolfe a brunch stop – at just over 19 miles into the ride you can eat whichever meal you like! There will be lots of local vendors including: pulled pork and drink specials at the bar, drinks at the Golf Course at Heritage Park, pie at the Gilmore City School, and loose meat, baked beans, and root beer floats at the City Park with the Lions Club. Some of the proceeds from our visit will be used to connect area trails! Ask a local about this when you arrive.
Other attractions in Rolfe include a Freedom Rock, rocking horse (supports breast cancer research), Brad Gates’ bike display, and the AA Corn Display.

West Bend (Meeting Town)

Those who’ve been to West Bend won’t soon forget it. The unmistakable Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption takes up a whole city block and is the largest grotto in the world. So large it’s often called the Eighth Wonder of the World!

Truly these photos don’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful and massive testament to the devotion and artistic talent of Father Paul Dobberstein. Over the years, over 100 train car loads of rocks from all over the world were used in the construction of the Grotto.

Doves resting in an alcove

We also stopped by the Wagon Wheel restaurant and Double L Saloon – the staff there was above and beyond friendly and took our large group in stride! Highly recommend the bacon cheeseburger with fries.

We left behind a “JustGoBike dollar” to decorate the wall. Bonus points to whoever spots it!

There will be plenty of lunch vendors in West Bend on RAGBRAI – of course the Double L Saloon, Sherry, National History Museum, the Fire Station with a beer garden and food, and more! All told we spent over an hour and a half here and it was time well spent!


Before we reached Rodman, we did a quick Corn Height Report – it’s teeny! Some things on the route are going to look a LOT different than they did for us on the Route Inspection. If you would turn around 180 degrees from this photo you’d see a farm about 2 miles out of Rodman. They’ll host food and refreshments on both Tuesday and Wednesday of RAGBRAI.
Rodman is an unincorporated town – BUT they will host the Iowa Beer Bus and possibly some other vendors. We didn’t go far into town but this abandoned school has some grade A shade for you to relax in. Rodman is also your last chance to meet up with your friends from the gravel or paved route, and then split once again for the ride into Emmetsburg!



Welcome back to Emmetsburg! Thousands of cyclists will be “Bikin’ the Burg” this summer during the oldest, largest and longest week-long bicycle touring event in the world! Emmetsburg was thrilled to host RAGBRAI rider in 2014 (and three previous times!), and we’re excited to welcome riders back once again on Tuesday, July 26th! Get ready for live entertainment, relaxation at the beach, tasty food and drinks, and of course a taste of our Irish heritage.

Emmetsburg is a small town of approximately 3,700 residents, located in Northwest Iowa. Emmetsburg is home to Five Island Lake, the 9th largest of Iowa’s 34 natural lakes. Enjoy camping, golfing, fishing and swimming at beautiful Five Island Lake while you visit Iowa’s Irish Capital. Emmetsburg is an official sister city to Dublin, Ireland, and celebrates the heritage of the Emerald Isle with a festive St. Patrick’s Day celebration each March.

Emmetsburg’s theme is Bikin’ the Burg – and we are telling you they know how to make a RAGBRAI visit FUN! We celebrated RAGBRAI Crew Member Tag Mousel’s birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAG!) and had a delightful dinner at Five Island Golf & Dockside Lounge overlooking Five Island Lake, or as we all accidentally called it, Lake Emmetsburg.

While in Emmetsburg your entertainment for the evening will include:


For more information on Emmetsburg’s RAGBRAI plans, visit their page on our site: Emmetsburg RAGBRAI

Follow on Facebook:


Ready for more? 

For a description of our visits to each pass through town, check out the Day Three episode of the JustGoBike podcast! Featuring Kathy “Murphology” Murphy and Andrea “ParrotTalk” Parrott. You can find it wherever you like to listen to podcasts, or follow this link:

You can also follow the Pre-Ride adventure and learn interesting tidbits about the route by following us on social media:
Instagram: @RAGBRAI 
Murphology Podcast on Instagram: @MurphologyPodcast
Murphology Podcast on Facebook: @MurphologyPodcast
Murphology Podcast on Twitter: @murphologypod
JustGoBike Podcast:

Have a great day and happy trails! – Andrea

1 Comment

  1. Thom M

    Is there a GPX file or downloadable map for the Gravel option?

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