Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CoeBRAI 2013: New Rules

As you are likely aware, registration for RAGBRAI XLI opened Nov. 15. As of this writing, five CoeBRAI veterans have signed on – myself, Mike Albers, Bob Beer, Judy Floy and Jim Lund. With the planned downsizing from 30 to 20 riders, others may want to follow suit to secure your spot for 2013.

First, however, some bad news. Despite earlier assertions otherwise, fiscal reality dictates a rate increase. Please know that this is not something I take lightly. In fact, it’s a last resort after trimming every conceivable budget item – including driver salaries. In addition, after riding for free for each of the six tours I have served as captain, I will now be paying to participate just like everyone else.

Fees for Team CoeBRAI will remain be $450 in 2013 – a $50 increase. Of this, a non-refundable $225 deposit is due March 1 along with a completed (online) entry form and signed waiver. The remaining $225 will be due July 1.

The fee includes the official $150 RAGBRAI entry fee, transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns and (new this year) within each overnight town, some meals, and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop. We will again be producing a Team CoeBRAI jersey, but it will no longer be included in the entry fee. Information on ordering a jersey will be provided after the first of the year. This will be completely optional.

Instead of renting a bus for transportation to and from the start and finish, we are renting two vans for the week, which is the main reason for the reduced group size (and also a factor in the diminished economy of scale). While our out- and in-bound transportation will be less lavish, we will now have the luxury of a mode of transportation in the overnight towns as well as the possibility of gatherings in the meeting towns along the route.

One other change of note is elimination of the pre-ride pasta dinner the Friday before departure. We’ll still make provisions for those wanting to pre-load and I might even serve up my own spaghetti (2012 participants can vouch), but $7.50-per-person dinner at Coe seemed an easy item to cut given our current fiscal dilemma.

With that said, CoeBRAI veterans should have received an e-mail from RAGBRAI with registration instructions. RAGBRAI virgins will first need to create a profile at the RAGBRAI Web site. You will then want to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, soy capitan. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

2013 anyone?

With additional traffic generated by today's Coe College e-newsletter, I thought I should post some information about joining Team CoeBRAI in 2013. While we are exploring some changes, this much is certain.

Online registration opens Nov. 15 for RAGBRAI XLI. This year's participants should receive an e-mail from RAGBRAI with registration instructions. First-time participants -- or those returning from prior years -- will first need to create a profile at the RAGBRAI Web site. You will then want to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, soy capitan. 

Fees for Team CoeBRAI will remain at $400. Of this, a non-refundable $200 deposit is due March 1 along with a completed (online) entry form and signed waiver. The remaining $200 will be due July 1.

The fee includes the official $150 RAGBRAI entry fee, a Team CoeBRAI jersey, transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns, some meals, and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop.

We'll cap the group at 30 if we continue with our practice of renting a bus for transportation to and from the start and finish. However, we are considering renting vans for the week instead, which would mean a cap of 20 riders. Either way, please only register if you are certain of your intentions.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kodak moments

Here's a photo album from our adventure, including this group shot from the banks of the Mississippi River. More added as photos are sent to me. 

Take me to the river

Team CoeBRAI veteran Judy Floy led our group to the Mississippi River tire dipping site in Clinton, culminating a 69-mile day from Anamosa and a 471-mile trek across the great state of Iowa.

After starting with 29 riders in Sioux Center on Sunday, July 22, 23 survived Iowa's heat and hills to the finish on Saturday, July 28. Along the way, we experienced Iowa's legendary hospitality, scenic landscape and homemade pie.

While physically exhausting, RAGBRAI provides an annual opportunity to restore one's faith in humanity and to experience Iowa in a uniquely intimate way. To do that while representing Coe College is a labor of love that I cannot possibly describe.

You really have to experience it to understand. Next year?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Riding like we stole it in Anamosa

Like most every bike ride, today's 42-miler to Anamosa seemed more difficult during than after.

After a night indoors - most of us in our own beds - breakfast on the 16th Avenue Bridge of Lions closed a historic RAGBRAI overnight in Cedar Rapids. Then it was off to Mt. Vernon, where the street was packed like none other, vendors sharing space with a huge influx of riders for the shortest stage of RAGBRAI XL.

A stiff head and cross wind made the 10-mile ride to Springville tougher than it should be, but all were in Anamosa soon enough. Personally, I struggled to get comfortable in the saddle, but persevered to the Anamosa city pool to go 6-for-6 in post-ride swims.

That streak will end tomorrow with a 69-mile ride to Clinton to finish the adventure. Our numbers have dwindled in recent days, but the Coe crimson and gold will be on full display as Team CoeBRAI dips front tires in the mighty Mississippi at the end of the world's longest, largest and greatest bicycle touring event. Sore muscles will be soothed by the pride of a difficult mission accomplished. And on Sunday, we'll begin planning for 2013.

Who's in?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Survivin' the Ride in Cedar Rapids

I can't tell you how good it feels to be home after today's 85 miler from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids.

Bill Martin '68 opened his home to the team after severe storms rolled through Marshalltown about the time most of us head for bed. The morning brought cooler temps (there's more than 10 degrees difference between 92 and 102!) and favorable winds for the longest day of the week (century riders excepted).

Perhaps due to the conditions, I thought today's ride was the most scenic of the five. My favored 25-mile stretch from Vinton to Cedar Rapids did not disappoint.

Upon arrival we were welcomed by a crew from Coe College, which also hosted a few of our riders and made the campus available for tent campers.

Showered, shaved and stuffed with Chinese take-out, it's time to head downtown for the 40th anniversary festivities and Counting Crows concert. Tomorrow's 42-miler to Anamosa affords a good opportunity for rest, relaxation and a much slower pace.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hump Day to Marshalltown

The heat continued to take its toll on the 77+ mile ride to Marshalltown. Along the way we crossed Interstate 35, the symbolic east-west Iowa dividing line.

Several CoeBRAI riders sagged for all or part of the day in the sweltering heat. There's no shame in that given reports that a third of all registered RAGBRAI riders opted out of Tuesday's leg.

While Wednesday's conditions were arguably better, the issue became lack of recovery time on back-to-back 80 mile days.

Thursday brings another, but highs in the low 90s will be a welcome change. Wind from the northwest promises a smooth 30-mile cruise from Vinton to Cedar Rapids, one of my favorite rides when conditions are favorable.

The iPod will be playing Counting Crows all day in anticipation of Thursday's show and a night at home. Get ready, Cedar Rapids. Company's coming!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 3 to Webster City

81-miles to Webster City wasn't nearly enough for a dozen of the more masochistic among us. On a day when wind overshadowed the heat, 12 CoeBRAI riders traversed the Des Moines River valley not once like the rest of us but thrice on the optional Karras Loop. They each got a patch for their efforts.

On the other end of the spectrum, our good friend Roger Bear's ride came to an end when his derailer snapped, breaking the carbon fiber frame in the process. Not the kind of thing bike shops along the route are equipped to repair.

Ron VanHoeck was interviewed by Cedar Rapids television station KGAN for a story on RAGBRAI. Hope to see it after we return.

Me? I was pleased to come upon Farm Boys when there was no line and quickly downed a breakfast burrito. Here's a photo.

An eventful day all around for Team CoeBRAI. Here's hoping for tailwinds on tomorrow's 77-mile journey to Marshalltown.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 2 to Lake View

It was a hot one, even by RAGBRAI standards. Officially a 62-mile trek from Cherokee to Lake View became a 69-miler for Team CoeBRAI from the Country Club to the Dean and Nancy Stock farm. A few of our directionally challenged troupe took the scenic route around Black Hawk Lake. For me, a short detour to the pool in Sac City sufficed.

For dinner we pay tribute to CoeBRAI co-founder Tony Bata, the driver and chef in 2005 and 2006. We dispensed of the cooking duties under my watch, but we've made an exception for tonight. With our hosts tied up with volunteer duties and our camp located about a mile from town, we're serving spaghetti with my homemade sauce prepared in advance, frozen and hauled along for the occasion. Perhaps someone will post a review.

Tuesday brings an optional century with temperatures to match. For the less ambitious among us - me included - it'll be 81 miles to Webster City. It's officially RAGBRAI XL jersey day, but I haven't decided yet if I'll wear that hot, black number.

Until then, quitcherbitchin.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Country Club livin'

Just a quick note while I have momentary access to report we're all alive and well and enjoying the good life at the Cherokee Country Club. A short 54 mile ride from Sioux Center allowed for an afternoon of lounging in or by the pool. Lake View - and more reliable cellular service, we hope - tomorrow.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

RAGBRAI or not, here we come

It's early, but 2012 is shaping up to be the best year yet for Team CoeBRAI #8. All 29 riders and 3-person support crew participated in Friday night's pre-load opportunity. As a result, the team departed from Coe 25 minutes ahead of schedule. Today's destination is Sioux Center, where RAGBRAI XL begins tomorrow. Memories await.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

RAGBRAI packing for newbies

I know some of you are unsure what to bring, so here are some tips from the RAGBRAI folks, plus a few of my own.

Please put identification on everything you take on RAGBRAI. Lost items can be returned to owners.

Bicycle equipment: Helmet is #1. Bicycle shops can handle most any mechanical need you have, but you might consider bringing a small repair kit that includes a tire, spare tube, tire irons and small wrenches. (I've survived on spare tubes and chain lube. As long as you get your bike serviced before RAGBRAI, it should be good to go.) In addition, a rear view mirror, bike gloves, pump, bike bag, rain gear, bicycle lock and water bottles are necessary equipment. (A lock isn't really necessary either, from my experience.)

Camping equipment: You'll need a duffle bag (or, in our case, a 30-gallon plastic tub, such as the one pictured here), sleeping bag, pillow, pad, tent, ground cloth, rope, stakes and a flashlight. (A collapsible chair will also come in handy. It need not fit into your plastic tub, nor does your tent.) The tubs are just a handy way to tote items from town to town and also offer protection from the rain. For extra protection, pack what you can in large ziplock bags. I have a small supply of tubs should anyone, particularly out-of-towners, wish to use them. The one-tub-per-person rule will be strictly enforced. On RAGBRAI, less is more.

Toiletries: Pack a towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, skin lotion, shampoo, soap, razor, nail clippers, brush/comb, hair ties/barrettes, deodorant, mirror and toilet tissue.

Clothes: T-shirts, shorts, a jacket, pants, warm-up suit, underwear, socks, shoes, sandals, sleepwear, swimsuit and sweatbands/bandannas should get you through the week. (Two sets of biking attire are sufficient from my experience -- one to wear and one to dry out after "washing" it in the shower. Remember that you will be getting a CoeBRAI jersey and some of you also ordered a RAGBRAI jersey. Remember also that each overnight town has a t-shirt they would like to sell you. Be sure to bring padded biking shorts!)

First Aid: Pack aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamins, Band-Aids, gauze, tape, first-aid cream, lip balm, sun block (lots of it!), insect repellent (even more!), safety pins, special medicines, Campho-Phenique and sanitary protection with disposable bags if needed. (Chamois Butter before and during, Gold Bond powder after. Avoid this advice at your own peril.)

Miscellaneous: Bring an alarm clock, spare glasses, sunglasses, a scouting knife, camera, film, watch, earplugs (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Trains, rock concerts, civil defense sirens, etc., will inevitably disturb your effort to get some rest. Bring earplugs!), ID, money, traveler's checks, credit cards, journal, pens, pencils (who uses pencils anymore?), stamps, address book, several plastic trash bags for rain protection and zip-lock bags. Be sure to enclose everything in a water-tight plastic bag. Did I mention earplugs?

Food: Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided in camp. You may also want to bring a box of Power Bars and keep one on your bike for when you need a quick energy boost, but don't want to wait in line for pie. Many of our hosts will be providing dinner. Out of courtesy to them, please don’t linger on the route until late and then expect dinner to be left out for your late arrival. Anything else you may want or need can be purchased by our support crew during their daily store run.

Electronics: Cell phone service is usually epicly spotty with the crush of people. But we will have charging stations available in camp. Please send me the number of the cell phone you will have with you and also the name and contact information of your emergency contact.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

T-shirts and refunds

As the big event draws near (it is now next month!), a couple reminders are in order. 

T-shirt orders due July 1
You'll want to look your best when 10,000+ RAGBRAI riders come to town July 26. To commemorate a rare visit to our town Cedar Rapids on the 40th edition of the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, we've designed t-shirts (shown here). Printed on ultra-soft gray cotton fabric, this handsome shirt combines form and function to please cyclists and non-cyclists alike. Pre-orders are now being taken at the ridiculously low price of $8. Please send cash or checks payable to Coe College to Lonnie Zingula at 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 along with your unisex size. If delivery is required, please provide that information also. Orders are due July 1 and shirts will arrive in plenty of time for RAGBRAI. Proceeds, should there be any, benefit Team CoeBRAI.

Refund policy
While we understand that life happens, we must insist on a no-refund policy for cancellations after July 1. Additionally, we will follow this refund schedule: 75% on or before May 1, 50% on or before June 1 and 25% on or before July 1.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gifts for your cycling momma

Looking for Mother's Day gift ideas?
A wonderfully high quality t-shirt for her...
Cycle of Red, Yellow & Tyedyed
Perfect for those females with a cycling passion
Click this link....
Or perhaps, she would like note cards that feature art from an Utah artist...
Visit this site...
Purchase 8 or more cards and there's a 20% discount!
Help make Mother's Day Extra Special for her and support Team CoeBRAI rider Jeanne Allgood.

We're in!

It's official! The RAGBRAI lottery was conducted today and Team CoeBRAI, group number 32344, is in! Now the fun really begins.

30 riders strong (plus the best damn support team in RAGBRAI history!), we include 14 Coe alumni. Ages range from 22 to 70. In addition to 22 Iowans, team members hail from Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, Utah, Nebraska and Washington, D.C.

Note that the third occassional CoeBRAT is scheduled for May 19. Early entry deadline is May 14. You don't want to miss it.

Also, jersey and short orders are due by May 20. T-shirt orders are due July 1, the same day as final payment is due for CoeBRAI participants.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Company's coming!

You'll want to look your best when 10,000+ RAGBRAI riders come to town July 26. To commemorate a rare visit to our town Cedar Rapids on the 40th edition of the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, we've designed t-shirts (shown here). Printed on ultra-soft gray cotton fabric, this handsome shirt combines form and function to please cyclists and non-cyclists alike. Pre-orders are now being taken at the ridiculously low price of $8. Please send cash or checks payable to Coe College to Lonnie Zingula at 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 along with your unisex size. If delivery is required, please provide that information also. Orders are due July 1 and shirts will arrive in plenty of time for RAGBRAI. Proceeds, should there be any, benefit Team CoeBRAI.

Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 apparel now available

As the 40th RAGBRAI makes a rare stop in Cedar Rapids, 2012 apparel is bound to be a keepsake. The same is true for Team CoeBRAI, members of which are always among the more fashionable participants in Iowa's great bike ride. Kohawk crimson is the dominant color of this year's jersey by Coe graphic designer Christina Kroemer.

Team CoeBRAI will be modeling them on the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) July 22-28. With overnight communities listed prominently on the right breast, it won't be hard for folks to tell us where to go.

In addition to long-sleeve, short-sleeve and sleeveless versions of the jersey, we are again offering Coe biking shorts featuring the school’s crimson and gold and Charlie Kohawk logo. Bib shorts are also available. While the jersey design changes each year, the shorts are intended to stand the test of time.

The designs will soon be submitted to Champion Systems and orders are now being taken. Each weeklong rider who was part of our group registration gets one free jersey. Additional jerseys and shorts may be ordered.

A jersey will be awarded as a prize in an upcoming bike ride sponsored by the Alumni Office and Team CoeBRAI. Clear your calendar for May 19 and stay tuned for details on the third occasional CoeBRAT (bike ride across towns). 

Anyone else is welcome to buy jerseys -- $60 for short sleeve and sleeveless, $70 for long sleeve. Shorts are $65 or $75 for bibs. Order forms are available on the right column of this page. All orders must be received by May 20 and will be shipped by mid July.

3rd occasional CoeBRAT follows RAGBRAI route

Kohawk fellowship... food... drink... prizes... bicycling... and fun for all await participants in the third occasional CoeBRAT (bike ride across towns) on Saturday, May 19. Sponsored by the Coe College Alumni Office and Team CoeBRAI, this event encourages you to get on your bike and ride.

This year's CoeBRAT follows a 30-mile paved roads route using a portion of this year's RAGBRAI route between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon. Participants will visit Clark Racquet Center on the Coe Campus, the Indian Creek Nature Center, Chameleon's in Mount Vernon, The Rut Bar and Grill and return to Coe. In addition to door prizes and food/drink specials, the participant with the best 5-card poker hand will win a 2012 CoeBRAI jersey.

Registration is only $10 by May 14 ($15 after). Save yourself some cash and sign up today! Entry form here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Team full, hosts wanted

In its eighth year representing Coe College, Team CoeBRAI is at capacity with 30 week-long riders. RAGBRAI begins this year in Sioux Center and ends seven days and 471 miles later in Clinton. In between, riders will stop overnight in Cherokee, Lake View, Webster City, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids and Anamosa. We are again actively seeking hosts from among the Coe family at each of the overnight towns. Openings remain in Cherokee (July 22) and Webster City (July 24).

We will begin taking orders for the 2012 Coe biking jersey once the design is finalized. Also, mark your calendar for the third occasional CoeBRAT (bike ride across towns) on Saturday, May 19. This year's ride will utilize a piece of the RAGBRAI route between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon or, rather, Coe and Cornell.

In addition to this blog, you can also follow CoeBRAI on Twitter and Facebook. For more information, contact Team CoeBRAI captain Lonnie Zingula at lzingula@coe.edu or (319) 399-8613.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Full RAGBRAI route announced

Written by
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. With Sioux Center, the starting point of the 40th RAGBRAI, actually being 12 miles away from the nearest tributary of the Missouri River, what are riders to do about the traditional dip-the-tire-in-the-water-before-traipsing-across-Iowa thing?
Ardith Lein, one of Sioux Center’s RAGBRAI co-chairs, said three previous turns as the event’s launching pad have taught city officials that bicyclists/vagabonds are nothing if not flexible.
“We take our fire tanker truck out to the river and pump it across the street at the start,” Lein said. “It’s worked fine, but if the diehards want to ride out to the river that’s fine, too.”
Open Space Park, the primary gathering spot for this year’s RAGBRAI, is located in the immediate vicinity of the Sioux County Fairgrounds, a local heritage village and Dordt College.
Go to siouxcenterragbrai.com for more information.
Orange City: A history lesson beckons in the first leg of the RAGBRAI route: Orange City was named after William I, the Prince of Orange, who led the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that finally led to independence for the Netherlands in the mid-17th century. The city’s 76-foot tall windmill — when measured from the ground to the highest-reaching vane — is a modern reminder of that Dutch heritage, as is the tulip festival held every May. A mini-tulip festival is scheduled for the RAGBRAI stop at the town square, featuring almond patties and Dutch letters from the Dutch Bakery, Woudstra brats, sausage-filled pastries called “sauchijze” and the breakfast from heaven known as Dutch puppies: waffles dipped in chocolate and served on a stick.
Alton: Golf enthusiasts may want to work in a tee time at Sioux Golf and Country Club, the oldest continuously operated golf course in Iowa. Course founder W.S. Slagle was first introduced to golf in 1888 during a trip to the East Coast and proceeded to convert a pasture into an Alton fixture that was named Iowa’s 9-hole course of the year in 1993. E-mail siouxgolf@gmail.com or call (712) 756-4513 for more information.
Cherokee: RAGBRAI riders should fit in just fine in a town that celebrates Fat Tuesday every year by racing its women through downtown while they wear a dress, apron and kerchief and carry a frying pan, complete with pancake, that must be flipped at the beginning and end of the 415-yard course. Fun behavior like that is known as just another day that ends in “y” on the annual bike ride across the Hawkeye state. But more cerebral pleasures also await at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium, www.sanfordmuseum.org, which was both the first planetarium and first accredited museum in Iowa. It boasts a collection representing the fields of archeology, art, astronomy, geology, history, natural history and paleontology. Pilot Rock, two miles south of Cherokee on the east side of Highway 59, is an enormous boulder of red Sioux quartzite that measures 160 feet in circumference and is 20 feet high. It was revered by the Native American population that once lived in the region.
Schaller: It’s “Popcorn Days — The Sequel” for RAGBRAI riders who weren’t around to enjoy Schaller’s annual event. Known as the popcorn capital of the world, Schaller was home to Bango and Jolly Time popcorn until the companies moved in the 1980s after more than 60 years as the major industry in the area. A public pool will welcome all comers. Lobos, the town’s only restaurant, offers scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy in the morning and rib eye sandwiches for lunch. And have we mentioned the beer garden? “The bar will be open as soon as it is legal to start serving,” said owner Sam Wandrey. (That’s 6 a.m., by the way.) Wandrey also makes a nice Bloody Mary.
Sac City: Things have changed since RAGBRAI riders last passed through town in 1995. The Sac County Cattle Company was named maker of Iowa’s best burger in 2010, and there is now a barn that houses the world’s largest popcorn ball. The 5,200- pound, 28.8-foot-at-the-equator behemoth was created in 2009 but is actually the third attempt at popcorn ball fame by proud Sac Citiers. The first, a mere 2,225-pound pipsqueak, was bested in overall size by some other town that shall remain nameless, and the second one gave in to mold and decay. The goal with the third, said brainchild Shirley Phillips, is immortality. “They had to tear the rafters out to shove it in the barn,” she said. If all the popcorn ball excitement proves too much for you, there are also two swimming options in town, one indoor and one outdoor.
Lake View: The 957-acre Black Hawk Lake, which is the southern-most glacial lake in the United States, is located within Black Hawk State Park. Swim at multiple beaches; check out the lake’s historic stone piers built during the Great Depression; enjoy some time out of the saddle at Boulder Beach mini-golf; walk the two-mile long “Stubb” Severson trail through the Black Hawk Game Preserve to access the Witches Tower on the highest point overlooking the Black Hawk Lake area; pay homage at the statue of the great Sac Indian Chief Black Hawk, which stands 11-feet tall and was sculpted in 1934 by a participant in an arts program under the direction of Grant Wood; and visit the Lake View Historical Museum’s collection of 130 stuffed-and-mounted species of birds.
Auburn: This is the childhood home of magazine publisher Roy Reiman, who overcame an early two-edition bust with Pepperette, a magazine aimed at teenaged cheerleaders and band and pep-squad members. He went on to establish a thriving business in the 1970s with the help of Farm Wife News and other agrarian titles. Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames is named after the Auburn product. Make a pit stop at Dolly’s Bar and Grill or Van’s Cafe, where the cinnamon rolls are a must.
Lake City: For starters, Lake City no longer has a lake. Dried up. Long gone. If RAGBRAI riders still see a body of water beckoning somewhere in the distance, that is the heat stroke talking and they should find some shade.
A tranquil field trip to Bowie International, manufacturer of Hurricane Motorsports’ fiberglass kit cars, is a possibility for auto enthusiasts. (Visit www.hurricane-motorsports.com.) Lake City is also home to the nationally prominent Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, but tours are not available. September is usually reserved for an annual chili cook-off, but maybe the locals won’t be able to wait that long.
Stratford: One possibility surrounding the town’s name is that an English railroad official named it after Stratford-on-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. RAGBRAI riders would probably have caught on to a literary theme anyway, based on street names such as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Milton, Byron, Goldsmith and Burns. Stratford is located on this year’s Karras loop, inspired by one of RAGBRAI’s founders and intended to make one day of the event weigh in at more than 100 miles in length. In this case, 104.5 miles to be exact. Need some inspiration to take on the additional 23.3-mile bonus trek? How about local legend John Jonas, who pushed a wheelbarrow loaded with all of his belongings to take part in the California gold rush in the 1850s. His return to the Midwest three years later repeated the feat. So give up after 81.2 measly miles or heed the call of a man who knew how to get across a state or two.
Lehigh: Nearby Brushy Creek State Park has a beach ready to host tired and sweaty bikers on the west side of one of Iowa’s largest man-made lakes. Check out www.stateparks.com/brushy_creek. html. If food is more important to you, the locals are very proud of the cheeseburgers at both Jay’s Bar and Grill and the Riverside Tavern.
Webster City: It’s a cultural two-for-one as RAGBRAI’s overnight stay coincides with the opening night of the 95th running of the Hamilton County Fair (www.hamiltoncountyfairia.com). “You can’t get much more American than that (combination),” said Kent Harfst, Webster City’s director of recreation and public grounds. A similar stamp of approval was given the Boone River and Webster City when they were elected the 2007 River Town of the Year. One of the tributaries to the Boone River features some of the best whitewater in Iowa and canoe or kayaking rentals will be available for those who need an adrenaline rush above and beyond RAGBRAI
Also worth a visit is the Kendall Young Library, 1201 Willson Ave., which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Webster City pioneer Kendall Young and his wife, Jane, provided for the building and support of a free public city library in 1896, and construction of the Beaux Arts style library was completed in 1905. Special features include gold marble columns from Africa, terrazzo and mosaic floors, stained- glass windows and a stained-glass dome. Library collections include the Abastenia St. Leger Eberle Sculpture Collection, the Foster Doll Collection and the Van Ness Native American Collection. Visit www.youseemore. com/nilc/KendallYoung.
Kamrar: Riders can stop in Kamrar for breakfast and a quick photo with the second-hand firetruck the local fire department bought from the New York fleet that raced to the Twin Towers after the 9/11 attacks. (Window decals honor New York firefighter Terry Farrell, who died on 9/11. Coincidentally, he had donated bone marrow in 1993 to a 6-year-old girl from Nevada, Ia., who visited him in New York after her surgery.)

 Stop by Katie’s CafĂ© for a fresh scone — the blueberry and peach ones go fast — and a round of bowling at Axis Lanes, a local hangout that often hosts live music. Follow the route south of town to Little Wall Lake, a glacial souvenir that has become a popular spot for camping, speed-boat races and migratory birds — but probably not at the same time.
Story City: Ditch your bike for a ride on this town’s 99-year-old carousel, where hand-carved animals and a whirling tub have been spinning around since their 1982 restoration. Grab a bag of popcorn or try your luck in surrounding North Park, where local bakers are sure to show off their Norwegian roots with piles of homemade kringla. Their doughy figure-8s are perfect for hanging a few extras on the handlebars of your bike.
Roland: The Scandinavian pride continues in Roland, even though Mayor Roger Fritz pointed out that the town name’s Spanish equivalent is Orlando. “But we lack a Disney World,” he joked. What they don’t lack: a local history museum, a decent bar at the American Legion post, and a new park, which is still under construction. The park can’t open soon enough for the local kids — and there are a lot of them. Fritz said that of the 1,284 folks in Roland, almost one in four are younger than 14, making the town one of the youngest in the state.
McCallsburg: Just down the road from Roland, this town is home to the state’s oldest mayor: 88-year-old Wallace Loney, who has held the office for 24 years. He’ll be glad to pose for a photo, but you’ll have to make it quick. “I’ll be running around to see if people need anything,” he said.
St. Anthony: If you’ve run out of kringla, stop for bite to eat in St. Anthony, which was named for two of its early pioneers: John Saint (grandfather of the actress Eva Marie Saint) and Anthony Pierce. Head straight for Flatheads Bar & Grill, which serves a mean mix of Cajun food most Tuesday nights (crawfish, gumbo, shrimp po’boys) and a pork tenderloin that has attracted statewide praise. Postmaster Joi Benedict recommends the sweet potato fries and sweet peach tea, a concoction of peach schnapps and iced tea “that doesn’t have enough alcohol to really get you, but it’s a nice refresher.” Like many small towns, Saint Anthony’s post office may be gone by the time RAGBRAI rolls through, but Benedict hopes to have a special stamp for visitors who’d like to postmark a souvenir card. (The next wave of closures is slated to be announced May 15.)
Clemons: For a different kind of souvenir, step up to the plate at the Clemons ballpark to re-enact a 1940s exhibition game between the local team and the St. Louis Cardinals. (The Cards won.)
Marshalltown: Riders will finish the day here, where they can feast on loose-meat sandwiches at the original Taylor’s Maid-Rite. For live culture, sample the dozen daily flavors of frozen yogurt served at the Purple Cherry. Want more culture? Check out the Impressionist paintings at the Fisher art center or the Iowa movie memorabilia at the beautifully restored Orpheum Theatre. Visitors can explore the 160-acre Grimes Farm and Conservation Center or bike a victory lap around the quarter-mile clay oval at the Marshalltown Speedway.
Garwin: The day’s route follows the path of a windstorm that ripped through Tama and Benton counties last July. The so-called “derecho” winds tore through at speeds that topped 100 miles per hour, cutting a path of destruction up to 15 miles wide. In Garwin’s city park, you’ll spot almost 80 new trees that were donated by the Iowa Speedway in Newton. You’ll also see a handful of community buildings in various states of repair.
“We’re still regrouping, still recovering,” lifelong resident Phyllis Konicek said. “But we’re going to survive. We’re a surviving people.”
They’re also a baking people. The last time RAGBRAI visited, Konicek and a friend made 850 cinnamon rolls that “were gone in nothing flat.” They plan to do it again this year.
Clutier: Save some room, though. The Czech town of Clutier will offer more kolaches and crescent-shaped rohlicky than you can shove into your spandex shorts. A good place to start is the Czech Point Restaurant & Pub or the 110-year-old Bohemian community hall, known as the Zapadni Cesko-Bratrska Jednoty. (Say that three times fast.)
Garrison: This is the hometown of Mildred Kalish, who wrote about her Depression-era childhood there in the 2007 memoir “Little Heathens.” The book’s nationwide success surprised no one more than the first-time author herself, who was 85 at the time.
Vinton: See if you can spot all nine murals a roving gang of artists known as the Walldogs painted in 2000, and the extra one they painted during a return trip several years later. There is plenty of three-dimensional art, too, thanks to local chainsaw sculptor Brian Parr, who turned dozens of the town’s storm-damaged trees into outdoor sculptures. One of the town’s other claims to fame is the 150-year-old Iowa Braille School, which includes among its alumni Laura Ingalls Wilder’s older sister Mary.
Shellsburg: If the park or historic concrete bridge look familiar, you may have seen them in “The Final Season,” the 2007 movie about the high school baseball team from nearby Norway. (Shellsburg’s main drag was better suited for filming than Norway’s, which has a noisy railroad crossing.) But the biggest draw these days might be Coop’s Roadhouse, the beer garden at the Pearl Street Social Club, or the candy counter at Divine Decadence, where you can gobble down chocolate-covered potato chips.
Are they any good? “Yes they are. Oh, yes they are,” the town’s city clerk, Nancy Deklotz, said with a note of reverence.
Cedar Rapids: Riders will finish the day in Cedar Rapids, which is eager to show off its progress since the Cedar River flooded its banks in 2008. Out-of-towners can poke around the historic Czech Village or visit the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, which was recently hauled to higher ground. Other sites worth a stop include the historic Brucemore estate, the 75 restored cars at Duffy’s Collectible Cars, and Grant Wood’s studio, which is managed by the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The city will join the Register to host a special 40-year celebration for RAGBRAI.
Feel free to sleep in the next morning: The day’s ride to Anamosa is a measly 42 miles. Along the way, swing through Springville for a tenderloin at Shelly’s and catch up on local gossip with the coffee group that meets every morning at Casey’s. If coffee isn’t your thing, take a nap on the lawn by the gazebo at Butler Park. There’s time.
The route passes next through tiny Viola (pronounced VYE-ola) before coasting into Anamosa, home of the Grant Wood Art Gallery and the National Motorcycle Museum, which displays more than 250 rare and vintage motorcycles dating back to 1903. But don’t get any ideas: motorized bikes are taboo on the RAGBRAI route.
Oxford Junction: The final day’s ride into Clinton winds through a handful of towns that barely show up on the map, including unincorporated Hale and Elwood. You can start the day off right with a trip to the Old Stone Jail in Oxford Junction, which housed prisoners in the town’s early days. If you manage to escape, hop on a get-away bike and pedal as fast as you can to Lost Nation. But linger at your own risk: Many of the local kids were extras in the 2009 remake of the horror movie “Children of the Corn,” which was filmed here. “It was pretty corny,” Mayor Jim Schroeder said, without intending the pun.
In some ways, the town’s real history is actually spookier. Local legend claims that a group of Native Americans overtook some pioneers in wagons who had split from the group and lost their way. An old cemetery in town turned into their final resting place.
Delmar: The train depot in Delmar re-opened last summer as the Delmar Depot Railroad Museum almost 30 years after it welcomed its last freight train. More than 1,500 artifacts tell the story of the railroad’s early days, including the so-called “orphan trains” that once brought thousands of out-of-state kids to work on Iowa farms.
From there the route curves through Charlotte (pronounced shar-LOT), which has an old covered bridge. Find killer cheeseburgers at Dad’s Place, then head to Goose Lake before the final 13 miles into Clinton. After riders dip their front tire in the mighty Mississippi, they find ways to celebrate the end of the ride: with a glass of wine at the Wide River Winery, a meal at the Candlelight Inn overlooking the new marina, or a round of blackjack at the Wild Rose Casino and Resort.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Clock ticking on CoeBRAI participation

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Below is a nearly identical post to one I posted a few weeks shy of a year ago.

As the April 1 RAGBRAI registration deadline nears, this is my final push for week-long riders. (Part-timers are a subject for another day.)

Of the 30 full-time biker slots on Team CoeBRAI, 27 have been claimed. That leaves three openings.

After obtaining my blessing, you will want to register on the RAGBRAI Web site and join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent -- along with a copy of your waiver -- to me, the group contact. (Checks made out to Coe sent to my attention at 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.)

Fees for Team CoeBRAI will remain $400. Of this, $200 is due March 1 along with a completed (online) entry form and signed waiver. The remaining $200 will be due July 1. (Don't forget to add the cost of any merchandise you may choose to order through RAGBRAI.)

The fee includes the official $150 RAGBRAI entry fee, a Team CoeBRAI jersey (preliminary draft pictured here), bus transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns, nightly accommodations with generous hosts along the route, some meals, and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop.
Please don't wait until March 31 to contact me as I will surely have closed our group by then. Also, part-timers, relax. I'll get to you after lottery results are announced May 1.

As for the overnights, we're all set in Sioux Center, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids and Anamosa. Hosts are still needed in Cherokee, Lake View and Webster City. While hosts with ties to Coe are preferred, we're not so picky. Any and all accommodation options will be considered.