Route Inspection Ride: Day 4 – Webster City to Marshalltown

  • 7 June, 2012

by T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI Director

Once again, we had a few guest riders with the RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-riders as we gathered at Twin Parks in Webster City.  Joining the core group of weeklong Pre-riders were members of the Tall Dogs, Team Spin.  Joe and Cindy Connolly and Vern and Vickie Willey joined us again.  Leroy Keester with the Story City RAGBRAI committee and Kent Harfst with the Webster City committee joined us as well.  Lastly, we had Jodi Juskiewicz, my wife, ride with the team.   

The day’s ride was over 77 miles and just under 2,000 feet of climb.  It is a plenty flat route, but made considerably tougher with headwinds for most of the miles.  The pre-ride team left at 7:00 am, stopped in every town and still rolled into Marshalltown before 6:00 pm.

The roads were in very good shape and the ones that were in need of repair were being worked on as we were out on the road.  We saw road crews from Story County and Marshall County working on the roads.

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


RAGBRAI has visited Kamrar just once before, the last time in 1983.  Kamrar is a community of just 199 people located in Hamilton County that is just 11.8 miles into the ride.  Perfect distance for a breakfast stop.

The town will feature local entertainment, mostly music.  You will see a Fire Truck that was at the at Twin Towers on 9/11.  People can put on bunker gear and have photo shoot. 

The Lions will be serving pancakes and sausage, and local non-profits will have variety including egg bowls, biscuits and gravy, pie and cookies, cinnamon rolls and fruit. Be sure to try the Pepper-Seasoned Bacon produced by Custom Meats in Webster City.  Money from this food stand at the park, will be run by local community groups and youth from local high school sports teams proceeds will be used for park and shelter improvements.

The local bar restaurant, Pickles Pub, will have drink special and some type of food. Plenty of Bloody Marys and Breakfast Pizza for RAGBRAIers.

Farm Boys breakfast burritos will also be set up in Kamrar.


This will be the third time that Jewell will host RAGBRAI. The town motto is, “A Gem in a Friendly Setting” and the pre-ride team met some of those friendly people. 

Jewell will have their vendors spread out along Main Street.  The local restaurants Mischelles, Katie’s Café and the golf course will be ready to serve plenty of guests as well.  Some of the specialty foods you’ll have to try will be the Turkey Tenders and Bacon on a Stick, made with local Berkshire Pork.

The Eldorado Band will be playing on Main Street to entertain the riders.

Jewell, and their neighbors to the east Ellsworth (the next RAGBRAI stop), are working together to have a rail trail built between the two towns.  The “Jewellsworth Trail” will hopefully become reality in the near future. 

To signify the togetherness of the two towns, Jewell and Ellsworth will ask riders and townspeople to form a three-mile Human Chain holding hands at 10:00am from Jewell to Ellsworth.  


The town of Ellsworth was added as the route was altered between Jewell and Story City due to construction issues.  The last time Ellsworth hosted was RAGBRAI XVII.

Ellsworth is a community of 531 with a great city park with plenty of shade for riders to relax.  The town will have some vendors near the park and the two local churches also plan to be serving food to the riders.

Story City (Meeting Town)

This Scandinavian town of 3,431 people as both an overnight and pass-through stop on RAGBRAI.  The town has hosted the ride four times in the past. 

Most of the food and fun in Story City will take place in North Park. 

Here are some of the featured attractions in Story City:

Story City is home to a 1913 Herschell-Spillman Antique carousel. It will be whirling to the merry calliope tunes throughout the summer months.  Located in Story City’s picturesque North Park along the Skunk River, the restored merry-go-round will transport you back in time as you take a thrilling ride.

This fun machine is a vanishing species built in 1913 by the Herschell-Spillman Co. of Tonawanda, New York. It was originally owned by P.T. Gifford of Grundy Center, Iowa. Gifford traveled the Iowa countryside taking the carousel to county fairs and town celebrations, including Story City’s Independence Day galas. The splendid wooden figures are hand-carved from poplar and include 20 horses, two chickens, two pigs, two dogs, two chariots, and a whirling tub. Calliope tunes are generated by a 1936 Wurlitzer Military Band organ housed in the center of the carousel.

The Story Theatre/Grand Opera House is the oldest continuously operating theater in the Midwest and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to showing movies, the theater features productions by Story City’s Judge Story’s Theatrical Troupe during Scandinavian Days in the summer and the annual Yulefest Celebration in the winter.

The Story City Park is situated along the banks of the Skunk River, one of Iowa’s recreational water trails. It is the starting point for the Skunk River Canoe Trail. City Park is home to a historic swinging bridge, constructed in 1936 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration program.

Story City has year-round athletic facilities. Residents and visitors can advantage the municipal pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, bicycle and walking trails, soccer and baseball fields, and recreation center.  The town will unveil a new bridge on the trail that crosses the Skunk River in a few weeks.

Story City has a 9-hole “River Bend” golf course, featuring 2,980 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 37. The course rating is 34.3 and it has a slope rating of 117 on Blue grass. Designed by Charles Calhoun, the River Bend golf course opened in 1971.


Roland is a Norwegian town of 1,284 that last hosted RAGBRAI back in 1998.  The are planning a big celebration for the riders as they roll through Roland.  Most of the vendors will be placed along through downtown and the American Legion will host a beverage garden with a DJ spinning tunes.

The Roland Rocket, Gary Thompson, is the town’s most famous citizen. Thompson and his teammates captured the attention of Iowa in 1951 when the Rockets became giant slayers and made it all the way to the state finals. Roland at the time had 750 people and their team went on to defeat teams from Waterloo and Des Moines.  But unlike the movie Hoosiers, the Rockets lost to Davenport in the state finals. 

Thompson went on to a stellar career at Iowa State and is a successful businessman and college basketball broadcaster.  In 1957 he was named conference player of the year, beating out Kansas star Wilt Chamberlin. 

Maybe the Roland Rocket will be in town on RAGBRAI?


McCallsburg is a Story County community of 333 people.  The community will be hosting RAGBRAI for the fourth time, the last time happening in 1998.

The community has the distinction of having the oldest mayor in Iowa!  Mayor Wally Loney is a youthful 88 years young and is in his 11th term as mayor.

The town is located in the middle of the Prairie Rail Trail, a 10.5 mile recreational corridor that runs from Roland through McCallsburg to west of Zearing.


The committee for RAGBRAI is planning a race to Zearing for a Scavenger Hunt. Free gifts will be given away every hour on Highway E-18. In the gift bag will be coupons for riders to use at the different stands in Zearing for free drinks and food. Plus free Zearing memorabilia. Sneaky Pete, Zearing’s local band will be performing at the “SHADY” City Park. Danny Grause will be performing on Main Street. They have several games lined up for bikers to play to win prizes. Gold fish racing, rubber duck bob, dunk tank, and water fights with firemen.

Threshold Learning Center will be having a petting zoo with farm animals, root beer on tap and hay rack rides for families. Threshold is a Learning Center located within city limits, on 17 acres.

Some of the vendors include Mr. Gs from Boone (BBQ), Story County Cattlemen (Rib eye sandwich), Hometown Foods from Hubbard, Smoothie Stand, Americana Concessions, Christian Church food bar, Catholic and Church of Christ will be teaming together to serve energy foods at the Catholic Church. Cissy’s IV will be serving brats at the convenience store.

The local school band is tentatively performing.

Here are 11 great things in Zearing for RAGBRAI: 

  1. Zearing has a Rock Garden that is owned and operated by Ben and Carolyn Blattel Britton. At one time the Rock Garden was on the State registry as one of the places to visit in Iowa.
  2. Zearing has one of the last mausoleums that is operational in the mid-west. It is being restored at the moment.
  3. Huge Shady City Park. Has small creek to get your tired feet soak in.
  4. Only convenience store between Roland and Marshalltown (have on hand 3 ATMs that day)
  5. Only bank between Roland and Marshalltown
  6. A beer garden at the City Park
  7. A great Public Library with 8 computers, WiFi, with Heritage Room to visit and watch a movie to cool off in. Bake sale that day to raise funds to fix basement of Heritage Room.     
  8. Minerva Valley Telephone, Cable and Internet-will be able to help with cell phone needs. Have WiFi
  9. Zearing Days starts July 27th runs through July 29th .
  10. Threshold Learning Center. Expansive 17 acre learning center for families and school age children.   
  11. Dakins Community Center will be open as a cooling center. This center serves as our Red Cross Station. Holds 350 max.  

Story County will be building a new lake at the county park located one mile outside of town. This new lake will be completed by 2014. 30 electrical hook-ups for campers, youth camp ground, with cabins being added after the completion of new lake. The existing lake-Dakins Lake will remain. Zearing is very excited about this.

The town’s theme is “A Day In A Decade” riding through Zearing, Iowa. (been over a decade since RAGBRAI has been through Zearing.)

 Saint Anthony

This will be the first time for Saint Anthony to host RAGBRAI and they are excited and anxious to showcase their small community of just 102 people.

Flaheads Bar and Grill has been in business in the same location for over 60 years.  It is a popular destination for bikers (with and without motors) They will have a large garden and will be serving a variety of food including Cajun gumbo and beer fries.

Dunn Grain has existed in St. Anthony for over 100 years.

The city’s co-founder John Q Saint is the grandfather of Academy winner Ava Marie Saint.  James C. “Sunny Jim” Dunn owned the Cleveland Indians from 1916-1922 and his cousin James A. Dunn was a founding committee member of the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. 


This is also RAGBRAI’s first visit to Clemons.  The community is 148 and as their town motto says, “Size of a Dime, Heart of a Dollar”

Clemons has engaged a local artist, Jordan Denato, to paint a mural on the bandstand in the Gary Harding Memorial park.  This mural will depict varies aspects of Clemons Grove (the original name of our community) and will include a list of Clemons area veterans. Thus far he has the design and the town is preparing the bandstand for this work of art. 

Secondly, Clemons has installed air conditioning in our community building, thus providing a shelter to get inside and cool off for riders.  Inside the community building, which is a converted bank building built in 1917, will be the Wall of Fame with pictures and brief descriptions how people with Clemons roots have contributed to our culture. 

Among those being displayed are Vernon Clemons, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals.  He brought his team here to play the Clemons town team in 1921.  Other people include Sherb Noble, who opened the first Dairy Queen in Kankakee, IL in the mid 40s.  Also, Buzz Levick, long time coach and athletic director at Wartburg College.  (The athletic field at Wartburg is named for him).  He has a special place in the committee chair’s heart because he coached the Newton Cardinal basketball team to state championship in 1963 and 1964 when she was a junior and senior.

Thus far the town has the following activities planned:


Kevin Groth, a local DJ and operator of Kevin’s Karoke will be playing music on the bandstand.   

The following vendors will be set up on Main Street:

  • Hometown Grocery store from State Center will be selling ribeye sandwiches and hamburgers.  They will also have a variety of drinks, as will most of the vendors.
  • Maytag Dairy Farms will be giving samples and taking orders to be shipped later.  They also have talked about making their gourmet popcorn available.
  • Dale Fields, a local bee keeper, will have honey lemonade and samples of honey in straws.  He also will be taking orders which will ship later.
  • West Marshall Music Boosters will have walking tacos and will be raising money for the bands trip to Orlando next year.
  • Solar Smoothies will be located on Main Street.
  • Pulled pork, funnel cakes and soft ice cream. (Tentative)
  • Picket Fences will have a hard ice cream stand.(Tentative)
  • Volunteers from the town will have a fruit kabob stand whereby visitors will be a skewer and put as much fruit on it as the skewer will hold.


Niki Bryant, a licensed massage therapist, will be offering a unique massage experience which she administers with her feet.  She will also have homemade granola for sale. The first aid station will also be located within the community building.

The church will be offering a lunch of hot dogs (from the State Center Locker!) sloppy joes, chips, home made cookies and pies and a variety of fruit and drinks.  They also have several activities planned.  Church officials will be submitting their own litany of activities.

The Lutheran School will be selling sweet corn, Muscatine melon and a variety homemade baked goods and drinks. 

The City Park will be the location of our beverage garden.  Within the beer garden they plan on selling pork burgers and pork chops on a stick.


Wednesday’s riders will end July 25th by Proceeding to Party in Marshalltown.  The town’s logo is “Marshalltown: Proceed to Party” and they are planning a fantastic party for the riders while they are in town!

The Party will kick off with local entertainment on the main stage on the Courthouse Square.  The day will begin at approximately 1:45 p.m. with Moon Chaplin and the Magic Men, a local five-member blues/rock group. The Marshalltown rock trio known as CPR will play at 2:45 p.m. followed by the four-man cover band from Marshalltown known as JJ Ace at approximately 3:45 p.m. John Lukehart, blues musician from Marshalltown, will hit the stage at 4:45 p.m. ThreeCentral Iowa favorites with very loyal fan bases each- Major Day, Route 66, and Loose Neutral – will be the featured evening acts beginning at 5:45 and wrapping up at approximately 8:30.  Entertainment will take place on the Marshall County Band Shell which will be located on the courthouse square the day of the event and will be free of charge.

Headlining the night’s entertainment is The Little River Band at approximately 9 p.m. The Little River Band was formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1975. During their career they have sold more than 25 million records and scored 13 American Top 40 hits. They are responsible for such rock classics as “Take It Easy on Me,” “Lonesome Loser,” and “Cool Change.”  The current line-up for LRB includes Wayne Nelson, Rich Herring, Greg Hind, Chris Marion, and Mel Watts, along with Ricks.

The entertainment acts will feature a local twist as all bands have one or more member with roots in Marshall County, including former local resident Ryan Ricks who is now the lead drummer for LRB.  Ricks spent a majority of his childhood in the Marshalltown and State Center areas. He attended Anson Elementary from 1972 to 1976 before moving to the West Marshall School District where he received his first exposure to music in the fifth grade. “I started music classes in the 5th grade at West Marshall and learned from Mr. Nason, I think his first name was Ken,” Ricks said. “He was a good teacher and also a good snare player.  He was the starting point for me and challenged me with more difficult pieces. I still remember all my childhood friends and most of my teachers,” Ricks added.

Ricks’ family moved around a great deal while he was growing up. He eventually landed in Tokyo, Japan with his family and graduated from high school while over seas. He returned to the States for college and studied music in Nashville, TN. He secured musical gigs with Lacy J. Dalton and Loretta Lynn for a few years in the 1990’s. Ricks eventually married, had a family, and drifted away from music to pursue a career in computer consulting. Last year he was contacted by LRB lead guitarist Rich Herring, a friend and former music colleague, about returning to the music scene. According to Ricks, “I first thought ‘no way’ but after thinking and praying and looking at schedules, I thought I’d give it a try…and here I am once again on the road.”

Other attractions that you should make a point to visit while you are in Marshalltown are: 

Grimes Farm: A 600 acre nature conservatory including natural woodlands, prairie, an education center and a viewing tower, this is just a short bike ride along a paved bike trail from Marshalltown.

Marshalltown Aquatic Center:  Open weekdays from noon-7:30, the facility offers a great way to cool-off after a long ride.  Enjoy relaxing on the lazy river, going down one of the facilities 4 slides or enjoy refreshment from the snack bar.  Connected to Marshalltown’s state-of-the-art Community Y

Big Tree House:  Call ahead and make an appointment to see this 12 level, 55 foot high, 5000 square foot of floorspace treehouse that began as a hobby and has turned into a marvel.  Located at Shady Oaks Campground just southeast of town, you won’t want to miss this unique experience.  Call 641-752-2946 for an appointment.

Orpheum Theatre Center:  One of Marshalltown’s newest (and oldest) gems,  the Orpheum was originally built in 1914 and recently completely remodeled and reopened in 2011.  Housing a theatre, coffee shop and an extensive gallery of film memorabilia from Iowa’s stage and film actors/actresses, this is a spot you’ll want to stop by and enjoy.

Impressionist Gallery: Located inside Fisher Community Center, the Art Gallery houses an outstanding collection of original Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.   Works by Degas, Cassatt, Matisse, Passaro and Sisley are among the works contained in the gallery.  In 1987, a Monet painting (“Les Barques de Peche Devant le Falises d’Entretat) was stolen.  The Gallery was constructed with insurance funds received by the Foundation as a result of the theft. 


A big thanks to Transitions Optical for supplying some of the pre-ride team with Transitions-Oakley eyewear.  Transitions became a Friend of RAGBRAI this year and will have sunglasses for you to demo throughout the week of RAGBRAI.  Since today was overcast, the Transition lenses were ideal!  Some of the riders were taking off their sunglasses during the morning ride, but we wore the Transition glasses all day long, sun or no sun!

Day 5 – Thursday, June 7

The team is looking forward to yet another challenging ride from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids.  We hope the wind is a little kinder to us tomorrow!  Tune in tomorrow for another report from the Route Inspection Ride!


  1. Amy Snyder

    The trip sounds wonderful and we are looking forward to riding and checking out all these cute communities. I wanted to throw out there that the Marshalltown Forensics League is trying to raise money for their club by letting RAGBRAI riders shower at the High School off of Olive St. for $5 and they will supply the towels, so if you are in need on Wed. night of washing up, head over there and give to a WONDERFUL cause! THANKS AND WE’ll SEE YOU THE END OF JULY!

  2. Richard Allie

    Team Allie Brothers from Fort Worth, Texas is looking forward to riding through Story City. Our dad was born there in 1915 and grew up there with his two older sisters.

  3. Jim Skinner

    Love the Oakley’s – just go a pair like that in lime green. This is sounding like a really fun ride? Great to see so many SMALL towns.

  4. Kelly

    Team Allie Brothers, I’m coming from Fort Worth and hope to run into you at RAGBRAI!

  5. Sue

    Can’t wait to travel from our home in Massachusetts to have my kids do their first RAGBRAI in my homestate! Sounds like a great ride and lots of fun things to encounter….in addition to GREAT Iowa hospitality.

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