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Water proves to be elusive in Blakesburg

  • 23 July, 2009

Blakesburg, Ia.— RAGBRAI riders who braved a one-two-three punch of hills before reaching this town of 350 had three solid entertainment options before departing toward Ottumwa on the last leg of today’s route:

1) Hang with the locals in front of the Blakesburg C Store. Three residents sat on a bench there to chat with passersby. Riders couldn’t smoke though, according to a handmade sign, because “Insurance will not permit.”

2) Listen to live music on the street next to Martin’s Beer Bank, a bar that overflowed with cyclists.

3) Watch as thirsty cyclists attempted to refill their water bottles at a drinking fountain in the city park. The knob was surprisingly sensitive.

Rebecca Gernes, of Grinnell, watched several bottle-filling blunders, hesitated a moment and gave it a shot.

Rebecca Gernes

Gernes said she and others conquered a series of three steep hills outside of Unionville before having to compete with the Blakesburg fountain, but that the ride so far has been great.

“It’s a week of fun. Everybody’s your friend,” she said. “Except for the hills.”

First-time RAGBRAI rider Dan Janecyk, of New Lenox, Ill., said he was amazed he didn’t see more people walking the hills today.

“This ride is as tough as marine boot camp,” said Janecyk, who was a U.S. Marine in 1966 and ’67. “My problem is that there’s no good place to train for this.”

Dennis Hare, of Overland Park, Kan., was one of a few riders who mastered the fountain on the first try.

Dennis Hare

Hare and his son Adam rode the century loop today — an optional leg that circled Rathbun Lake and made the day’s total ride about 100 miles.

“There were some big hills, a couple doozies, but it was pretty scenic,” said Dennis Hare, who is on his 11th RAGBRAI. “A lot of people were riding the loop.”

— Jared Strong

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