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Route Inspection Ride: Day 2 – Storm Lake to Algona

  • 7 June, 2010
  • Jared

We were joined for Monday’s ride with some friends from Team Checker and Team Spin.  Judge Schaeffer and Lynn Schable from Team Checker and Cyndy Nelson, Jim and Donna Brown and Laurie Meylor joined the pre-ride team for the 79 mile ride from Storm Lake to Algona. 

Although the ride was longer than the day before, it was as flat as can be.  Just over 1,000 feet of climb, this is just over 12 feet of climb per mile.  Depending on the uncontrollable variables of heat, humidity and headwinds, the route should be a bit easier than the day before, even though it is longer by 11 miles.  The day offers plenty of opportunities to throw it into the big ring and crank. 

The route travels through farmlands of Buena Vista, Pocahontas, Humboldt and Kossuth Counties.  There are plenty of corn and bean fields and a few farms along the way.   You’ll find a pass-through town spread apart about 15 miles or so through the day.

Here are some facts and points of interest from each town.


The tiny town of Varina is the first town that we will visit just over 16 miles from Storm Lake.  Varina is located in Pocahontas County with a population of just 90 people.  Varina has hosted 3 times in the past with the last visit occurring in 1987.  The town will have several food vendors in town including the Tyson Fresh Meats booth.  Tyson has been on RAGBRAI the past few years and raises funds towards the efforts to end childhood hunger during RAGBRAI.

Pocahontas (Meeting Town)

The town is excited as this will be the first year that RAGBRAI will stop in Pocahontas. Pocahontas is located in the center of Pocahontas County and has a population of 1,970 residents. 

Pocahontas is named after the Indian Princess of Virginia. Built in 1956, on the east edge of town stands a 25 foot tall statue of Pocahontas. The statue was the idea of the late Frank W. Shaw and his father A.J. Shaw. Marcell Moritz designed the statue 8 years after Shaw’s idea. This attraction has brought people from all of the states and many countries. Another landmark that brings attraction is Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church located on 16 2nd Ave NW. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pocahontas (or Poky) will have all of the activities along Main Street leading up to and around the Pocahontas County Courthouse.  Some of the fun that day will include a mass hokey “Poky”, dunk tank, a climbing wall, three bands and several young Princess Pocahontas girls on hand.

Pocahontas was the hometown of the RAGBRAI famous Chris Cakes.  Plenty of Chris Cakes will be available in Poky at the Ford dealership on Main Street.


The other new town this day is Plover, which is pronounced PLUV-VER that rhymes with lover. Plover is a tiny town with a population of just 95 people in Pocahontas County.

The folks in Plover are combined efforts to help raise funds to replace the roof on the Plover United Methodist Church which has been damaged.  The “Plover Circle” is comprised of five grandmas that have dusted off the Plover traditional Ham Ball Supper recipe to be served on a stick.  “We’re not holy rollers, we’re Ham Ball rollers!” they claim.  We tasted the Ham Balls, several of them!  Yummy!  The town will also have plenty of pie (yep, we sampled those as well) and an icy concoction that the developer is hoping to find a name for his tasty ice treats. 

Plover native and Des Moines Register reporter, L. Lars Hulsebus will return home to perform in the park for riders enjoying the shade and treats.

Rolfe (Karras Loop)

RAGBRAI returns to Rolfe for the second time for those that want to add a few extra miles by riding the Karras Loop.  We don’t claim that it is a century, so ride around the block a few extra times if you need to see three digits on that bike computer.

“Rolfe Rolls for RAGBRAI” is this year’s theme as sweet rolls will be plentiful in beautiful Sunset Ridge Park as well as fruit and drinks as well.  The Karras Loop patches will be handed out to registered riders just outside of the park to commemorate the ride.  Be sure to check the times on the RAGBRAI maps that the patches will be handed out.  The park’s entertainment will feature a local family that plays their calliope as well as local jester, Tom, farmer with a plenty of jokes for those looking for a laugh.

Rolfe was named after John Rolfe who was the husband to Pocahontas the Indian Princess. The skyline of Rolfe is made up of grain elevators, like most Iowa small town’s corn and soybean agriculture is the main industry.

With the town motto of “Some bigger, none better”, Rolfe with a population of 675 is lead by dedicated local volunteers. The dedicated people help others through home health care programs, hospice, fire department, ambulance service, youth programs, churches, schools, and many more.

The privately owned Bud Barn is home to a large moveable statue of a Budweiser Clydesdale and smaller Dalmatian statues. Rolfe has a 15 foot tall metal statue of Cy, the Iowa State Cyclone Mascot.

RAGBRAI’s only other visit to Rolfe was in 2007.

West Bend 

RAGBRAI’s next stop is West Bend, home of the Grotto of the Redemption.  West Bend is located in Kossuth and Palo Alto Counties.  With a population of 834 people this town is known as a “Rock Solid Community”.

The Grotto of the Redemption has the largest collection of minerals and petrification concentrated in any one spot in the world. The Grotto is the largest in the world, and is comprised of nine separate Grottos. Each Grotto portrays a scene in the life of Christ. Nearly 80,000 people visit the Grotto each year, attracting rock enthusiasts and people of many faiths. Be sure to visit this miracle in stone.

The Villager at 105 South Broadway Ave. contains an old-fashion soda fountain from the 1930s. Take a break and have a malted milk, milk shake, cherry soda, lemon soda, or lime soda from this local diner.

The last RAGBRAI visit was in 1999. This year will be the sixth time the ride has passed through West Bend.


With a population of 530 residents, Whittemore is located in Kossuth County just 10 miles west of Algona.  Noah Park and Siems Park have recreational opportunities such as baseball, fishing, camping, and playground equipment.  Noah Park will host most of the RAGBRAI activities as food, drink, shade and entertainment will be plentiful.

Whittemore is a town that salutes it’s veterans with a memorial and murals for all to see. 

This will be the 5th year that RAGBRAI has stopped in Whittemore. The last stop was in 2005.


The local organizing committee’s theme, “Algona – That 70s Town, We’re Cycle-delic,” centers on the 1970’s as a unique era and memorable decade.  Algona will host RAGBRAI for the 5th time as they also hosted in 1977, 1990, 1999, and 2005.  The committee has really gotten into the 70’s groove dressing up in classy leisure suits and Farrah Fawcett wigs.  This town is looking forward to hosting RAGBRAI again this summer.

The Vic Ferrari Band headlines the downtown entertainment in Algona.  The Vic Ferrari Band is one of the Midwest’s most powerful showy-dance bands.  The seven-man band packs tunes from a variety of musical genres into powerful sets tailored to the age and taste of those in the audience.  The band cuts across age groups and culture gaps by encompassing wide stretches of musical territory. while the band focuses on classic rock from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, their repertoire is diverse enough to include Sinatra tunes, county classics, popular movie themes, blues anthems, and some of the timeless pop tunes you thought had faded into obscurity.  The band took the name Vic Ferrari from the late 70’s sitcom Taxi.  It was the alter ego of Latka–one of the show’s characters.

For more information on RAGBRAI in Algona visit their web site  or follow them on facebook.

Day 3 – Tuesday, June 8

Hopefully the great weather and favorable winds continue for the ride from Algona to Clear Lake.  Tune in tomorrow for another report from the Route Inspection Ride!


  1. Peter H.

    I see Rolfe and Kingsley both have the town motto “some bigger, none better”…I wonder if there are other towns along this year’s route claiming the same. Just wondering.

  2. Laurie Meylor

    Excellent job on detailing the website! It was awesome to ride the route yesterday and stay 1 rotation ahead of the rain! Thanks for all that you do!!

  3. Kathlene

    Thanks for the update guys! Getting so excited!

  4. Becky

    I think there will also be a waterslide on the courthouse lawn in Pocahontas sponsored by our fire department among several live entertainments on main street!

  5. sc fsbo listings

    The absolute best Honey Lemonade Recipe: 1/2 gallon warm water, 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice. Just mix it all with your hands (their warmth will disolve the honey and sugar) and pour mixture into a gallon container filled 3/4 with ice. You can use orange blossom honey to get an awesome citrus flavor.

  6. rome ii total war

    Genuinely when someone doesn’t understand then its up to other people that they will help,
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