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Dave's RAGBRAI 2016

Ragbrai XLIV Recap

July 24-30, 2016 #44

Iowa is not a Flat Ride

Pre Ride Predictions –

After a heat index of 116 on the Thursday before Ragbrai everyone was afraid of the heat but, mid 80’s is the predicted. We shall see.

We left at the usual of 8:30 for Glenwood. That has been the starting point six times, only one less the Sioux City. Along the way a tire blow out on the bus with a huge bang and shredded tire blasted across the road. It was close to Des Moines so the delay was around an hour and a half. Glenwood is a nice town. We came here five years ago and this year they had all of the Ragbrai activities in the town square. We are staying at the same Methodist church we stayed in 5 years ago.

Flashback to 5 years to Ragbrai 2011

Do you remember the summer of 2011 was the hottest July on record? It started in Glenwood and when we got off the bus the heat and humidity was intense. Only saved by a rainstorm around 6:00 P.M.

The ride ended in Davenport but along the way we had heat index of well over 100 on the Monday ride to Carroll that included the Danish town of Elkhorn.

It was hot all week but we had air-condition every night along the way. The ride in to Davenport seemed to start to pattern of long Saturday rides. The route called for 65 miles but ended up being 71 by the time we got to the Highway 74 Bridge.

Sunday – Glenwood to Shenandoah

49.7 (add 3 more) 2614 foot of clime

13.6 To Malvern

11.8 To Tabor

7.2 To Randolph Grave Loop 18.2

17.1 To Shenandoah

-The weather prediction of upper 80’s and high humidity. It was right on!

There was a very scenic terraced farm ground that comes with hills and plenty of them.

Malvern was the only town with a real downtown. The others were to small and or victims of disappearing farmers. The views made up for it!

Our home will be the First Methodist Church, it is large and has showers. So no lines to wait in, but now the working propane heated showers have made a new era of showering in comfort.

It did rain a little in the evening.

I did have a conversation with a lady about “Iowa Nice” she said she was born in Iowa in a rural area. She said when she was driving and meet a char she would raise her index finger and smile. When she later lived out east for a while she would get a different finger in response and a frown. She learned they have a different nice as well.

Monday – First United Methodist – Shenandoah to Creston

75.2 Really 79 miles – 4000 foot of a climb

Weather was just like Sunday but not as hot.

Shenandoah to Creston

6.2 To Essex

10.7 To Bethesda

14.6 To Villisca

4.6 To Nodaway

13.0 To Corning

9.2 To Preston

16.7 To Creston

Weather was just like Sunday, well the morning was perfect! The afternoon was as predicted.

This was a day of hills but again great views. For an old man 4000 + foot of a climb was plenty.

Tuesday – Calvary Baptist is our home

Creston to Leor

58.5 (really 61) miles 3318/3900 foot of a climb.

Weather 84, 10% chance of rain

Creston to Leon 2000 people

19.3 To Dragonal

12.1 To Mount Ayr

9.6 To Kellington

12.2 To Decator City

4.8 To Leon

Again it was a great day to ride, and as usual it turned out it was as hilly as Monday. It did get hot in the afternoon. The hills got to us nearing Leon, in the church we are staying in we can’t go anywhere but the basement. It kind of looked like a cellar with lots of rooms. It was cool and enough rooms.

Tonight a group went to a restaurant named Korthouse, a play on words for the county courthouse nearby. We had drinks there but they didn’t serve food tonight because of the crowd. They ordered pizza from across the street and picked it up for us – only in a small town!

The town we passed through worked hard to make Ragbrai look good. I was told that Leon has the smallest school district in Iowa.

Wednesday – First Baptist Church

Leon to Centerville

65 miles 2708 foot of climb

The weather forecast for Wednesday is 83-84 with a chance of showers.


13.6 To Garden Grove

7.7 To Cambria

5.5 To Millerton

2.4 To New York

1.8 To Bethlehem

6.9 To Confidence

32.3 To Harris Loop

13 To Walnut City

2.3 To Mystic

5.9 To Centerville

I have confidence we can get walnuts shipped from New York that are picked in Bethlehems Garden Grove area, but we will have to contact a Mystic first. Sorry I had to do that to you!!

As you can imagine some of these were not really town. New York was on a farm selling beer/bloody marys and burgers. It has a board propped up with a New York City map on it. Palistine was a couple of miles away and we didn’t stop.

News Bulleton! – Well not really. Our Grant Wood American gothic jerseys seem to be a hit because in just four day of Ragbrai I have had at least 20 riders comment “I like your jersey!”

As far as the ride this year, so far, it has been the hardest of the last 5 years. So many times when you get to the top of the hill you will see two more coming. I wouldn’t say that they are killer hills just lots of them.

Centerville looks good and healthy, it also has the widest town square parking and road. I think we have seen a good amount of the county seat towns in southern Iowa. Another thing I have seen this year is the ditches. Sixteen years ago when I started these rides the ditches were full of thistle/cattails and other weeds. Now the weeds are more like queen ann’s lace and a handful of other colorful weeds you would see all throughout the state. I wonder if the state was the one who got rid of the milk weeds? Welp the ditches look good now!

Thursday – First United Methodist

Centerville to Ottumwa

51.6 miles 2000 feet of climb

With a morning rider over Rathrun Dam

Weather forecast – chance of rain but it seems to be looking better and hotter.

Centerville to

5.7 To Rathbun

10.2 To Moravia

9.6 To Unionville

12.5 To Blakesburg

13.6 To Ottumwa

Great morning to ride, warm in the afternoon. The church is the same one we stayed in 2009, a big church with lots of room. Today I meet my friend Clarence Boesenburg. He is doing his 5th Ragbrai at 90! He says this Ragbrai has been the hardest one. He says Tuesday was the hardest day, he isn’t alone there.

In Ottumwa we went to a restaurant called the Cantena. It was established in 1936. It has no address because it faces the alley, not only that but they have built a parking ramp over it. It is a small dinner with a limited seating of about 16 or 18 stools in a horseshoe shape. The only meat is loose meat like a maid rite. They have malts/milkshakes/root beer floats and pies. You get your order before you can get to your seat. It was fun to watch, a couple in our group lived here in 1980 and they say nothing has changed. Inside the horseshoe counter a lady takes the order and tells it to a lady by a metal container containing the loose meat. She grabs a bun, puts on condiments, takes a spatula flops the meat on the bun and wraps it up and puts it on the counter before you can pay and sit down.

Flashback 10 years to Ragbrai #34 2006

Was a ride Sergeants Bluff (suburb of Sioux City) to Muscatine 445. The overnight towns were Ida Grove, Awdubon, Waukee, Newton, Marengo, Coralville. At the time this Ragbrai was the shortest but with the 4th highest climb and a hot one. Besides Ida Grove ran out of food. They ran out while a group of us saw a bad movie (You Me and Dupree) in a very hot theater. The weather was hot for the week but it was the high humidity that was most of the trouble. We had a very hard rain in Waukee and the Methodist church where we stayed had people come in during the night. It was a first class storm. In Newton Lance Armstrong gave a speech at the beer garden but I think I enjoyed it more at the Legion on a closed circuit TV. The rolling hills during the week were great. Also, our new Grant Wood Jerseys were the hit of Ragbrai.

Present Day

We are staying at Lending Hands Adult Daycare in Washington

Ottumwa to Washington

68.5 miles with 2541 feet of climb

Forecast high 70’s high humidity.

Ottumwa to

17 miles To Hedrick

14.4 To Haysville

7.2 To Sigourney

15.7 To Wooden Wheel Vinyard

4.7 To Westchester

9.5 To Washington

Forecast was right on. It was a joyful ride with cool temps. And no wind to speak of. Even with hills out of Ottumwa, most of them were rollers. We had several stops but the winery near Hedrick was the best. Our stay in Washington was a first, but the adult daycare was small but met our needs as long as we used the basement.

One half of a phone call I heard while waiting for a shower was inspiring, it was a 15 year old rider talking to his 2 year old brother. Every youngster should have an older brother like him! His thoughtfulness almost brought a tear to my eye.

Saturday –

Washington to Muscatine

49.7 (54 miles) 1314 feet of climb

We rode way past the dipping area at the mall.

Washington To

22.8 To Columbus

1.9 To Fredonia

8.3 To Letts

8.9 To Ardon Creek Vineyard and Winery

10.88 To Muscatine

Forecast high around 80 possible showers.

The actual was the same but still humid, we were able to dodge showers and got sprinkles.

We had a great day to ride with few hills. It was our third day in a row where it looked like it could rain many times and little sun.

We also made a stop at the Arden Creek Winery. It was a great layout and seemed well ran. As usual this Saturday as we were leaving it started to sprinkle.

The bus was there right before 1:00 PM and we were on the road at 2:00 PM we got to Cedar Rapids a little after 3:00 PM.

This is the first time in years we have had under 60 miles on the last day. It made for no rushing and confusion. The stops today were good and it might start more winery visits in the future, I think.

Observations for the Week:

  1. For a short overall ride it was not easy.
  2. How we managed to not get wet with all the dark clouds was unreal.
  3. There were things I wished I would have done like the Car and Train Museum. Also, the gasoline signs. They were off the rode a quarter of a mile and there must have been 50 or more on a number of buildings and about 15 pedestal signs. The buildings and farm looked great. Why not stop??
  4. In general the ride was better than I expected. Going across southern Iowa where we have fewer large towns but it didn’t seem to matter.
  5. For some reason it seemed we had more bike accidents with people laying on the riding surface. Hardly a day went by without an ambulance or more coming and going.

As usual I want to thank the usual people.

  1. The Bryants for not making us sleep in a tent
  2. The Paulos for getting us started by rigging our truck and serving as our home base.
  3. Dave Benderson for all your work and please stay close if we ever in the future need advice.
  4. And we should make it mandate the I’m Wisbek by required to keep doing his great job, at least until I quit riding.
  5. Thanks to Dave Obsl for our needs to go place or picked up or even finding them.
  6. Thanks to all the people that helped loading and unloading the bikes.

7.Thanks Jerry Meyer for the maps even if one day I ended up in Montana!


Dave Evans