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Route Inspection Ride: Day 4 – Boone to Altoona

  • 8 June, 2011
  • Jared

by T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI Director

We had another huge group of riders join the RAGBRAI Route Inspection pre-riders on our 56-mile ride from Boone to Altoona.  The Brancels and the Willeys joined the pre-riders again for another fun ride.  We also were joined by some Tall Dogs (this is the 36th year on RAGBRAI for the Tall Dogs), Lake Country Cyclists, Banana Man and his sister, Kyle Robinson and friends from Kyle’s Bikes in Ankeny, Deb Oleson of the Elkhart RAGBRAI Committee and Trevor Meers of Midwest Living magazine.

The day’s ride is about 56 miles and a mere 1,250 feet of climb.  The day felt really flat compared to the rides earlier in the week.  The ride would have been a piece of cake except for those pesky 15 mph headwinds and the 90+ temperatures.  There are a slew of pass-through towns on this day, with 13 miles being the longest distance between any of the towns. 

This day a few of the pre-riders had some bike troubles.  Both Wes Hall, Assistant RAGBRAI Director, and I had flat tires during the ride.  We were fortunate to have a mechanic with us as we put Kyle of Kyle’s Bike to work. 

Here is the leader board of the bike breakdowns so far:

  • T.J. Juskiewicz – 2 flat tires
  • Wes Hall -1 flat tire
  • Mark Wyatt – 1 busted chain

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


RAGBRAI has visited the community of Luther four previous times, the last time occurring in 1988.  This town of 158 will be the first breakfast stop just 10 miles outside of Boone.  Luther has a few churches in town and a shady city park that will allow riders to relax. 

Slater (Meeting Town)

Slater is the other town that will be hosting RAGBRAI for the record seven visits.  RAGBRAI’s last visit to Slater occurred in 2001.  Slater is familiar with cyclists as the town is crossroads on the Heart of Iowa Trail and the High Trestle Trail. 

This town of 1,306 people recently hosted a huge celebration of the opening of the High Trestle Trail Bridge Grand Opening.  You will see a sign in Slater that credits RAGBRAI for financially assisting the Trailhead and Arboretum.

Nelson Park will have entertainment and plenty of food under huge shade trees and a gigantic pavilion to keep the sun off sun-baked cyclists.  The town will also have vendors and a beverage garden in there downtown.  The fire department and the bike friendly Take Down Bar will be ready for the influx of cyclists. 


This town of 336 people has hosted RAGBRAI twice before, the last occurring in 1988.  The High Trestle Trail cuts through the heart of the town that is located just a few miles south of Slater.  The town had a great showing during the recent opening of the High Trestle Trail Bridge a few weeks ago.


This Polk County town of 439 people has never hosted RAGBRAI.  The town is home to North Polk High School which has captured many state titles in softball, track and field, basketball and jazz band.  In addition to a variety of athletic teams vending that day, the Salem United Church of Christ will be preparing lots of homemade goodness for the riders.  There will be plenty of free water and kybos as well.

White Oak Vineyards

The unincorporated hamlet of White Oak, located in northern Polk County, has also never hosted RAGBRAI.  But don’t let that fool you as this will be a memorable stop for sure.  The family owned and operated White Oak Vineyards is nestled in the White Oak Creek Valley and surrounded by acres of vines.  The winery will provide a unique stop for all during RAGBRAI.

White Oak Vineyards is widely-known for their Friday night “Wine Downs” where everyone enjoys live music and time with family and friends.  Although they have not narrowed it down to one band, they WILL have a band on the back lawn.  So, pack your dancin’ shoes and get ready for a good time!

Many food vendors will be at the Vineyard to offer RAGBRAIers some great choices.  Wine, wine-a-ritas, beer, pop, sports drinks and water will be available for purchase.  The Iowa Air National Guard will be on-hand to fill up your water bottles for free.


Elkhart last hosted RAGBRAI in 2006 as a meeting town.  The community has grown since 2006, with over 400 residents.  Riders will see the new housing additions from the last trip to town. 

Riders will be detoured onto Main Street and greeted by many vendors, food and otherwise.  Vendors familiar to riders that will be in town are Ed “The Tattoo Guy” Twedt, Blue Sky Creamery, Live the Ride clothing and Beekman’s Ice Cream on the eastern edge of town.  There will be plenty of food including pork sandwiches, walking tacos, pasta/rice bowls, smoothies, pizza and burritos, just to name a few.  Local food vendors such as Scott Durrell, owner of Culpepper Cattle Company, will be serving his wonderful BBQ.  Julie Wills of Ankeny will be one of the vendors serving pie in her booth for the day.  The Elkhart Fire Department will provide “First Aid in the Shade”. 

Local organizations participating include groups from two community churches, the North Polk Wrestling program (selling sweet corn), Knights of Columbus and little league baseball.   The North Polk Wrestlers were very successful in selling sweet corn during the Elkhart 2006 stop, and are just using the last of those funds in 2011 – this is thanks to the generosity (and hunger) of the RAGBRAI riders!

There will be one, but plan for two beer gardens in Elkhart that day.  Music will be provided near the beer garden at the Elkhart Pub.   The newest bar in town, Kippy’s Place, is feverously under remodel at this time with plans to be open for RAGBRAI riders.

Games and other activities are being planned.  Photo opportunities with “Team Elkhart” will allow riders to transform to spandex clad elk cyclists.


This is the fourth time for Bondurant to host RAGBRAI with the last time happening just five years ago in 2006.  The town will have a great variety of food and beverage the day RAGBRAI rolls into town.  Bondurant is one of the larger pass-through towns on the route this year and is just about five miles prior to the campgrounds in Altoona.  Bondurant has seen tremendous growth and the town has more than doubled its population in the past ten years.  Riders will notice some new buildings in town including a new high school and Irish Pub.

The city plans to extend the connection of the Chichaqua Valley Trail in the next few years with the trailhead at Lake Petocka Park. The city was recently awarded the 2010 Tree City USA award by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.


Wednesday’s riders will end this epic day by cruising into Altoona for the town’s first opportunity to host RAGBRAI for the night. RAGBRAI passed through Altoona on its maiden voyage in 1973.   The town’s theme is “An Epic Ride” and that it will be.  But RAGBRAI is as much fun off the bike as on the bike… So, the Epic Ride will become An Epic Celebration!

As riders get into town they can enjoy half off an admission to Adventureland on RAGBRAI day.  Adventureland has a wonderful new waterpark addition that is a great place to relax and have fun.

Riders will take a truly EPIC ride with Grand Funk Railroad.  This classic act will headline FIVE EPIC HOURS OF MUSIC at Altoona’s RAGBRAI beverage garden.  The line-up also will include A Pirate Over 50—a Jimmy Buffet and classic rock cover band, along with Cowboy Mouth, a New Orleans based rock band. As frontman Fred LeBlanc has said,”If The Neville Brothers and The Clash had a baby, it would be Cowboy Mouth.”

Grand Funk Railroad has been the American band since 1969, recording such hits as An American Band and Some Kind of Wonderful.  The train will leave the station when the beverage garden opens at 4:30 p.m.

Here’s the line-up on July 27th:

  • Beverage Garden
    opens at 4:30 pm
  • Pirate Over 50 and the Mississippi Band
    5:00 to 7:00 pm
  • Grand Funk Railroad  8:00 to 9:30 pm
  • Cowboy Mouth
    10:00 11:30 pm

RAGBRAI riders with wristbands are admitted free.  Your Altoona RAGBRAI community t-shirt is your ticket to the event. For $15 you receive admission to the beverage garden with all three bands, plus half off an admission to Adventureland on July 27th and many other community specials and offers.

Click on the Group name below for more in-dept information on each!

GRAND FUNK RAILROAD (includes audio clip)

COWBOY MOUTH (includes audio clip)


Even more entertainment slated for RAGBRAI Altoona:

Family Entertainment at Haines Park
12:00-12:45pm  SEP Jazz Band
1:00-2:00pm  Tanner O’Connor Band
2:00-3:45pm  Vinyl Groove
3:00-6:00pm Toby Kid
4:00-5:00pm  Sheltered Reality
5:00-8:00pm  Out of the Blue

Times and schedule subject to change.

Day 5 – Thursday, June 9

Looks like rain and storms are in the forecast for our ride tomorrow from Altoona to Grinnell. This is one of the back to back shorter days, so hope the legs can recover some more. Tune in tomorrow for another report from the Route Inspection Ride!


  1. Bernie Lippold

    Be safe on Thursday. Weather is looking dangerous.

  2. Ben

    GFR!? I didn’t know they were still around…

  3. rocketwoman

    i’m so excited. Cowboy Mouth is the best live band ever. They freakin’ rock. This will be a blast!

  4. Bo Larsen

    Many people are coming up from Arizona to reconnect in Altoona for the ride. The Southeast Polk Facebook page is busting with comments.

    Great show, Altoona!

  5. Cheryl Burkland


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