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Route Inspection Ride: Day 3 – Greenfield to Indianola

  • 2 June, 2009

It has rained from the end of the ride yesterday for 24 straight hours until everyone was off the bikes this afternoon.  It could be worse as we all remember what happened in Iowa last June. 

june-2-to-indy-046The Route Inspection Riders were delayed for most of the morning as the rain was falling hard and visibility was suspect.  Our friend from Atlantic did come over to join in the “fun” but wiser thoughts prevailed as the ride was delayed.

Not only was it rainy, but it was cold.  Temps were in the 50s and let’s throw in the constant headwind kicker as 10 mph winds made it even tougher.  Dan claimed that his hands were frozen solid from the chilly, windy and rainy combo.

We did have a news crew from Channel 13 (WHO-TV) in Des Moines catch up with the inspection team for an interview in Martensdale.  After a nice lunch and thaw out at the Roadside Inn in Martensdale, the reporters interviewed Dan and Greenie about their ride in the rain through the beautiful Iowa countryside.

june-2-aLots of new road work has been completed in these stretches in Adair and Madison counties as there was plenty of fresh asphalt that should lead to nice smooth rolls. 

I once heard a rider say, “I love the smell of fresh asphalt in the morning,” stealing a line from Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now. 

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

Orient, Iowa

Orient is the home of Henry A. Wallace, who served as Vice President of the United States from 1941-1945.  Wallace was the developer of commercial hybrid seed corn who founded Pioneer Hybrid and also served as the USDA secretary. 

june-2-bThe Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center, comprises the Wallace birthplace and 40 acres. In the late 1970’s people in Adair County realized they really needed to acknowledge that this was his birthplace. A bronze plaque with Wallace’s name and the year of his birth, “1888” rests on a concrete slab by the dirt road running south of the house. The Adair County Historical Society also erected a memorial in his honor at Lake Orient.

This Adair County community is also the hometown of Dazzy Vance.  Dazzy was a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

june-2-to-indy-009Orient, population 402, is not “just not another small town” as their slogan suggests.  The town is used to events as every fall the community hosts their annual Pumpkin Days complete with a parade and other festivities.  The town has a nice city park where most of the RAGBRAI festivities will be.

Orient has hosted RAGBRAI twice before, the last time during RAGBRAI XII on the ride from Creston to Adel.

Macksburg, Iowa 

june-2-to-indy-0141Located in Madison County, Macksburg has a population of 142 people.  The town has a beautiful tree-filled park in the center of town where the RAGBRAI activities will take place.  The Women’s Relief Corp building is on the National Historic Registrar.  There is a café and a few taverns in town as well.

Macksburg has never hosted RAGBRAI before, but has hosted the National Skillet Throw.

East Peru, Iowa

This town of 153 people located in Madison County is pronounced “Pea-Ru”, not “Per-Ru”.  The town once boasted the oldest mayor in Iowa as Verl Dillinger was 90.

june-2-cPeru is the home to the red Delicious apple, the top-selling apple in the United States.  It was developed on an orchard near East Peru. Shoots from the stump of a stray apple tree began producing fruit on Jesse Hiatt’s orchard in the 1880’s. Hiatt entered the new variety, which he called the “Hawkeye” apple, in an apple contest and won. In 1895, Stark Brothers Nursery purchased rights to the apple, renaming it Delicious. Offshoots of the original tree still produce apples on the same site. Hopefully they will have plenty of delicious apple pie. That would make Dan McKay happy as he considers everything else, “a terrible waste of crust!” 

The steep decent into the valley will make you smoke your brakes. The good news is that the ride out of the valley is not quite as steep as the 7-percent entrance.  Whew!

East Peru has never hosted RAGBRAI before.

Truro, Iowa

Truro is a small town in Madison County with 427 people that was originally named Ego, Iowa.  Truro will be celebrating “125 Years of Memories” on June 26-28, 2009.

june-2-to-indy-026The community is planning many events and games for all of the RAGBRAI riders and spectators.  Some of them include water fights, a homerun derby, dry land canoe races, mechanical bull rides and a log rolling contest (similar to that seen during a lumberjack contest) and more to come.

Truro is also planning to have a diverse variety of food vendors a DJ and live music to entertain.

Truro has never hosted RAGBRAI before.

St. Charles, Iowa (Meeting Town)

St. Charles is the home of the Imes Covered Bridge, which is the oldest of the five remaining covered bridges of Madison County.  The 90-foot Imes Bridge was built in 1870 and was originally located in Union Township.

june-2-dIn 1887, it was moved by horses to a location southwest of St. Charles to span Clanton Creek where it sat until it was once again moved in October 1977 to a small park on the east side of St. Charles to be preserved for future generations.  Covered Bridge Park ,where the Imes Bridge is currently located, is on the bicycle exit route leaving St. Charles.

Old Settlers Park is located north of Main Street and is used each summer for the Old Settlers Reunion. There is also a shelter house and picnic tables in Old Settlers Park.  St. Charles is planning a variety of food, refreshments, entertainment and activities for RAGBRAI.

St. Charles has hosted RAGBRAI just once before, the last time was during RAGBRAI XIX on the ride from Winterset to Knoxville.june-2-e

St. Marys, Iowa

St. Marys is the first town after crossing over Interstate 35, the unofficial halfway point of RAGBRAI.  This Warren County community is home to 134 people.

june-2-fSt. Marys has a nice park, historic church and a few restaurants and taverns to enjoy.  We also spotted the Team Wind bus parked in St. Marys.  No site of any riders, just the bus.  (We also saw the Plum Smuggler bus in Indianola not looking too RAGBRAI-ready) 

St. Marys has hosted RAGBRAI twice before, the last time was during RAGBRAI XX on the ride from Osceola to Des Moines.

Martensdale, Iowa

Martensdale is home to the Great Western/Bill Riley Trail.  This popular 16-mile trail takes riders from Waterworks Park in Des Moines to Martensdale.

june-2-to-indy-052A popular stop for cyclists over the years has been the Roadside Inn.  The restaurant and bar has good food and drinks for all and should be plenty busy come RAGBRAI.  We stopped in for lunch during the ride.

Martensdale has hosted RAGBRAI just once before, the last time was during RAGBRAI XX on the ride from Osceola to Des Moines.

Prole, Iowa

june-2-gLocated in Warren County, Prole is an unincorporated town north of Martensdale.  Prole uniquely has a post office that happens to be attached to the town café named Gabby’s.

Prole has hosted RAGBRAI just once before, the last time was during RAGBRAI XX on the ride from Osceola to Des Moines.

Indianola, Iowa

Indianola is excited about hosting RAGBRAI for the first time as an overnight community.  Although the town doesn’t have a history of hosting the event, Indianola certainly is part of the RAGBRAI lore.

Clarence Pickard, with signature pith helmet, chats with Donald Kaul.Among the many interesting people RAGBRAI attracted during the first ride back in 1973 was Clarence Pickard of Indianola. This 83-year-old gentleman, who hadn’t ridden a bicycle much in the years before, showed up for that first ride with a used ladies’ Schwinn. He rode all the way to Davenport, which included a typical Iowa summer day of 100-degree-plus temperatures from Des Moines to Williamsburg, all told a 110- mile trek. Pickard’s attire for the ride was a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, woolen long underwear and a silver pith helmet. Articles from Des Moines Register columnists and RAGBRAI co-founders, Donald Kaul and John Karras, about Pickard and other points of interest along the way, were responsible for the growth of the ride.

Mr. Pickard passed away in the winter of 1982. Although he had only ridden in one complete RAGBRAI the first year of the ride and just one day the following year, he became a legend. The 1983 event, RAGBRAI XI, was named the “Clarence Pickard Memorial Ride” in his memory, and the commemorative patch the Register designed that year was similar to the shape of the helmet he wore. Indianola’s Pickard Park is named after this famous rider.

Indianola’s theme is Sweet Home Indianola: Cool Music. Hot Air.  The theme is fitting as Indianola is the home of the National Balloon Classic and also hosts numerous events throughout the year featuring a variety of great music.

june-2-to-indy-073Most of the camping for RAGBRAI in Indianola will take place at Simpson College and the community parks in the northwest quadrant of town.  The campgrounds are all a short walk to all of the RAGBRAI festivities, but you can also jump on one of the open-air people movers borrowed from the Iowa State Fair.

The Johnny Holm Band will liven up the downtown and deliver some “Cool Music” as the Minnesota band headlines the main stage that evening in the beverage garden.  The Johnny Holm Band has been RAGBRAI regulars playing Jefferson and Spencer RAGBRAI celebrations the past two years. 

Indianola has never hosted RAGBRAI as an overnight town, but has hosted as a pass-through town in 2000 for RAGBRAI XXV as a stop between Des Moines and Chariton.

Day 4 – Wednesday, June 3

We had enough of the rain, but at least we didn’t get the 4 inches that Chariton got yesterday.  We look forward to seeing a few riders from Indianola and some friends from Des Moines joining us on the ride from Indianola to Chariton. Tune in tomorrow for another report from the Route Inspection Ride! 


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    I really appreciate the daily ride info. I like the little tibits on each town. It would be nice if someone made a quick ref booklet for each town while on the ride. Thanks for blogging this.

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