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RAGBRAI, Days 5 and 6


These posts conclude my daily diary of adventures with the 38th annual Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), organized by the Des Moines Register. Thank you for sharing in my journey, and I look forward to hearing your travel experiences across our great country.


Thursday, July 29

Last night we had a classic Midwestern thunderstorm, with lots of rain, thunder, and lightning. Our tent did a little rocking and rolling but held up well with no water inside. This morning was cool and sunny with low humidity. The road out of town was newly paved, and the first 40 miles were the fastest of the trip. Overall we rode 82 miles before we rolled into Waterloo.

Being selected as a host town has many obvious economic benefits, but it also comes with lots of responsibilities. I’m told towns put together committees of hundreds of volunteers and spend nearly a year organizing events, sprucing up their town, and making sure their few hours in the spotlight make a good impression. Finding enough open space for thousands of RVs and campers is often a challenge. And just think of all the port-a-potties and showers needed.But probably one of the most important responsibilities is helping to line up the musical entertainment. As we pulled into town there were generally several musical events available. The best were the local groups performing from a small stage on Main Street or in a parking lot next to a VFW hall, doing everything from R&B to blues to classic rock and roll. Every night RAGBRAI ended with a big concert in the host town’s city park.

Riders had a surprising number of music players ranging from huge boom boxes on trailers to smaller devices that fit neatly on the back of a bike. We must have heard 20 different kinds of music: high-decibel screaming rock, old-time rock and roll, and everything in between. Sometimes I was glad to leave the music behind (or more often have them leave me behind); other times I lingered next to a rider with a particularly good music selection with just the right beat to keep me going.


Friday, July 30

Today was one of the roughest days. The distance wasn’t so bad, with only 62 miles from Waterloo to Manchester, but we were bedeviled by a cold driving rain for much of the day and a stiff headwind. I saw one young entrepreneur’s handmade sign altered to read “warm water” rather than the ice-cold water we normally craved. We were exhausted by the time we arrived in town.

Due to plane connections, it was sadly our last day. We were forced to miss the last 47-mile ride into Dubuque and the chance to dip our front wheels into the Mississippi.

All in all, it was an amazing week. It’s an experience my wife, Faith, and I will never forget. It was challenging and at times grueling, but the sense of accomplishment, the camaraderie, the opportunity to eat with abandon, and the beautiful scenery made it well worth the effort.

This last one is courtesy of the RAGBRAI Web site

Bob.jpgThe preceding is a guest post by Bob Ottenhoff,  Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.

Topics: Events