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Route Inspection Ride: Day 6 – Ottumwa to Mount Pleasant

  • 6 June, 2009
  • Jared

a-june-5-to-mtp-002For the third straight day, it was another beautiful day.  With nice temps, the sun was shining and the wind and your back for the western portions, it was another perfect day for riding. 

We were joined by quite a few riders eager to tackle to ride from Ottumwa to Mount Pleasant.  We had riders from Ottumwa, Mount Pleasant and Muscatine join the duo of McKay and Green for the 75 mile trek.

a-june-5-cFrom the Ottumwa group, there were two riders from the local high school, a slew of riders from the Ottumwa Spoke Folks as well as riders from the Ottumwa RIDE RIGHT committee.  One of those riders was 71 year old Don Pettengill, who has 3,000 miles on his bike this year.  Don also has a quarter century of RAGBRAI riding experience.  He told us a story while we were riding of a German exchange student that caught the RAGBRAI bug.  At 14, he did his first RAGBRAI with Don.  a-june-5-dHe struggled at first, but by the end of the week, he had the fever.  The student plans to return from Germany this summer to ride his third RAGBRAI.

The Mount Pleasant group also had some members of the Henry County Wheelmen and their local RIDE RIGHT Committee including Wheelman president Tim Bell.  Tim rode with the Air Force Cycling Team for years and fell in love with Iowa while on RAGBRAI.  After retiring from the Air Force, he decided he wanted to live in southeast Iowa and relocated to New London, our first stop after Mount Pleasant. 

a-june-5-eOur last group of friends was from Muscatine.  This group was lead by Charlie Harper of Harper’s Cycling and Fitness.  Charlie is known to hop on his vintage highwheeler, but instead opted for a more traditional ride.  Charlie has ridden at least part of each Route Inspection Ride.  He has been active as a co-chair in several of our stops in Muscatine.  We also appreciate Joyce’s help in supporting the riders.

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

Hedrick, Iowa

a-june-5-fOur first stop of the day will be Hedrick, Iowa.  It is pronounced “head-rick” is you were wondering.  This town of 837 is located in Keokuk County with a motto of “Where Friends Meet”.

The town was founded in 1882 and named after a Civil War General John Morrow Hedrick.  The town was once a railroad town with the last trains rolling through in 1980.  The Union Depot was converted into a real estate office.  The Carl Craft Civic Center, formerly the school, is being restored.  The town will host its 50th annual BBQ Days on June 26-28, 2009.

Hedrick has never hosted RAGBRAI before.

Martinsburg, Iowaa-june-5-a

Next up is Martinsburg, a tiny town of 126 in Keokuk County.  The town might have a vendor or two from the nearby high school and the BP Station has MC’s Café that you can stop in for a bite.

Martinsburg has never hosted RAGBRAI before.

Pekin, Iowa

a-june-5-to-mtp-pekinThe unincorporated town of Pekin is located in northwest Jefferson County.

Pekin is the location of a regional school system, which draws students from Farson, Hedrick, Martinsburg, Ollie, Packwood, and Richland, as well as from the surrounding countryside.

The school is built upon a former Air Force base. This school teaches math, science, English, and other subjects common in public schools. For eighteen years, only the high school students went to the regional school, which is located a mile south of Pekin, but in 1978, all grades, K-12, began to study at the regional school, with local buildings being permanently closed.

Different groups of students will have food stands at the school.

Pekin has never hosted RAGBRAI before. a-june-5-g

Packwood, Iowa

We had a great visit to Packwood thanks to Mayor Dave Dickey and his wife Judy.  Dave claims he is mayor “due to a lack of competition”, but after the hospitality that was shown to the riders as we entered Packwood, it is easy to see why he can get elected.

a-june-5-hThe Dickeys opened their lovely home to us with a delicious lunch including chicken salad sandwiches, potato salad, and fruit and to top it off, homemade strawberry pie with whipped cream!  We didn’t want to leave as the comfort was too great.

Packwood had a great experience during our last visit as the home community worked together and built community spirit.  The funds raised help purchase a basketball court for the community of 216 folks. 

a-june-5-to-mtp-026-diningPackwood is the hometown of Congressman Neil Smith and celebrated its Quasquicentennial (that’s 125 years) in 2008.

Packwood has hosted RAGBRAI four times before; the last time was during RAGBRAI XXVIII on the ride from Ottumwa to Washington. 

Pleasant Plain, Iowa

a-june-5-to-mtp-030-pp-churchNext up is Pleasant Plain, a tiny town of 131 in Jefferson County.  The Pleasant Plain Friends Church is a perfect spot to pull off and relax under a shade tree.  The Air National Guard water buffalos will be set up in town to provide needed water.

Pleasant Plain has never hosted RAGBRAI before.

Brighton, Iowa (Meeting Town)

Whoopee!  This town of 687 in Washington County celebrates Whoopee Days each June.  Originally known as Booster Day, the first festivities took place in 1910 to celebrate the completion of the pavement through the business district and Highway 1.  The named changed to Whoopee Days in 1929.

a-june-5-bThe town is located near the Skunk River and Lake Darling State Park and will serve as today’s meeting town.  Most of the happenings will be located in the business district with plenty of food and entertainment.

The riders were greeted as we entered Brighton by some well wishers at Terry’s Feed Store.  Plenty of cold Gatorade and treats were enjoyed by all.  Terry’s will have a food and drink stand on the edge of town. 

Brighton has hosted RAGBRAI once before, the last time was during RAGBRAI XX on the ride from Oskaloosa to Mount Pleasant.

a-june-5-jGermanville, Iowa

Germanville is an unincorporated area in Jefferson County that is home to many Amish families.  You will see plenty of horse and buggies traveling Germanville Road.  This stretch between Brighton and Lockridge has some decent climbs through the scenic countryside.

An Amish country store sits just off Germanville Road and will hopefully bring a bounty of homemade treats such as pie and ice cream.

Germanville has never hosted RAGBRAI before.

aaaLockridge, Iowa

The last town of the day is Lockridge, a town of 257 in Jefferson County.  The town was incorporated in 1914.  Some new things in Lockridge are the new fire station, renovated community center and senior center and a new 100,000 gallon water tower. 

The Lockridge Café has been renovated and is now open for business.  You can also visit the Johnny Clock Museum and perhaps see some neat art from Sue Hopper of Signs and Wonders.

Lockridge has hosted RAGBRAI twice before, the last time was during RAGBRAI XII on the ride from Ottumwa to Mount Pleasant.

Mount Pleasant, Iowa

Mount Pleasant will rise from the alien landscape to reveal a previously undiscovered space oasis. Plan to join the festivities and “Have a Blast”. Celebrate the last night of RAGBRAI XXXVII in a fashion that can only be described as ‘out of this world’.

The theme, “Have a Blast in Mount Pleasant” pays homage to two Iowa Wesleyan alumni James Van Allen, world-renowned astrophysicist and discoverer of the Van Allen radiation belt circling the earth, and NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station. The entrance to town will feature a rocket ship that is ready for lift-off.  The rocket will blast off as riders near the campus of Iowa Wesleyan.

a-june-5-to-mtp-052-iwuIowa Wesleyan University opened in 1842 and is the oldest co-educational, degree-granting institution in Iowa. It was there that seven Iowa Wesleyan co-eds formed a new philanthropic education organization – the International PEO Sisterhood in 1869.  Other women’s rights issues were activated in Mount Pleasant as well. The first Women’s Rights Convention in Iowa was held in Mount Pleasant in 1870, and in 1943, Iowa Wesleyan College organized the first women’s intercollegiate basketball team in the state. Another noted alumnus is Belle Babb “Arabella” Mansfield, the first woman lawyer in the United States.

a-june-5-mAll of the camping will be at the Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion grounds, the same location we camped in 2003, which boasts 130 acres and hundreds of RV hook-ups.   The Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion was started in 1950 and has taken place every Labor Day weekend since. Over 100,000 visitors from all over the World flood this tiny town for a week long celebration which pays tribute to antique agricultural equipment.

Old Thresher’s Reunion, as an event, attracts visitors from around the world, attracted by both the permanent exhibits on the reunion grounds and by the collections of antique and steam powered equipment brought to the show by other visitors.a-june-5-i1

The evening entertainment will be held in Central Park in downtown.  Mount Pleasant welcomes back “Gimikk”, who developed a great fan base with their 2008 Rock Around the Block performance. The band will deliver straight-up Rock & Roll that drives the heart of the Midwest. Gimikk will be ready for the crowd at RAGBRAI! Check them out at www.gimikk.com.

The headliner for the final evening on RAGBRAI is new to the RAGBRAI stage.  Anthony Gomes and the New Soul Cowboys will bring some rock and roll for your soul!  Saddle up with Anthony Gomes and the New Soul Cowboys as the award winning, acclaimed tough rocking, soulful singer-guitarist and his Nashville based outfit are ready to take on RAGBRAI. In 2008 Anthony had a #1 selling CD on the Billboard charts in the US. Check out the band at www.anthonygomes.com or www.myspace.com/anthonygomes.

Fly off to bed for a good night’s rest. Your rocket blasts off for the last leg of the journey in the morning!

Mount Pleasant has hosted RAGBRAI four previous occasions, the last time during RAGBRAI XXXI in 2003. 

Day 7 – Saturday, June 6

We hope for a fourth straight beautiful day. We look forward to seeing a few riders from Mount Pleasant and Muscatine join us again and some riders from Bike Burlington as well. Tune in tomorrow for the last report from the Route Inspection Ride!

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