Mason City IA to Independence IA
Travel Time 10:30
Saddle Time 7:30
After 124 miles yesterday, I treated myself to the Historic Park Inn built by Frank Lloyd Wright. I also stayed around for the free continental breakfast at 6am! Never can pass that up!
Everywhere I have been riding these last few days people have been asking me if I am training for the RAGBRAI. What is that you ask? The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This is its 42 year. There are 10,000 registered riders for this 7 day event, but there is a total of 20,000 to 30,000 people that actually ride it! The course changes every year and takes you from one side of Iowa to the other. This year it happens to be taking a northern route, which is basically what I have been riding this week. It is a 7 day circus, zoo, party…..event that everyone in Iowa knows about. The small towns on the route start preparing months in advance. The logistics of housing, feeding, managing this event are amazing. Each town creates committee after committee. They spruce everything up in preparation. Tent cities and port a johns go up on every available field and lawn. The Warm Shower family I’m staying with tonight will have 10 police officers using their lawn for their tents. And They are also part of a team preparing and feeding breakfast to a group of 1,200 cyclists.
The real cool part of this is that it seems like the whole state is involved. In every town, I get asked about the ride from the local farmer to the grocery store clerk. This is big! Do I wish I was here next week for the ride? I don’t know. But I think it would have been fun to overlap for one day. Today I came across two groups of people biking west to get to the start of the ride. One person flew up from Kentucky, and does every year.
I just enjoyed a pizza dinner with Than and Sara Chesher and their 3 children. They just signed up to host warm showers and I am their first guest! Sara is driving me to town later so I can buy groceries. They rent a house that is on a huge corn and hog farm.
And today I rode by a farm with “Jesus Saves” painted on the roof of the hog barn that houses all the pigs going to slaughter, and next to the big black manure bin.