Today we rode through all sorts of towns. After leaving Grinnell we had about an hour's riding before entering Brooklyn (the one in Iowa, that is). After that it was a succesion of rural Iowa towns: Victor, Ladora, Marengo, South Amana, Homestead, and Oxford. Each one welcomed us with lots of hospitality, food, and entertainment. It is impossible to ride through any of these towns as there are so many riders and other people packed on to the roads. And really, the whole point of RAGBRAI is that you don't ride through: you stop and enjoy the town, see the sights, talk to the locals, and enjoy the food. I did more of that today than any other day. The weather stayed cool enough that I didn't feel like I had to rush to beat the heat. This helped me to enjoy more of the stops along the way. It is amazing how many local residents come out for this ride. There are people parked along the roadside just to watch and wave at the riders. Many of the passthough towns were holding festivals in the town square, which the local residents were enjoying right along with the riders.
If you have been watching me on the tracker then you may have seen that from time to time I appear to stop in the middle of nowhere and stay there for awhile, sometimes more than 30 minutes. I'm not napping under a tree. Farmhouses along the route set up booths to sell food and drink. Some vendors are well known to RAGBRAI regulars and set up a new trailer every day of the ride in a different farmhouse yard. The longer stops I make are to eat food and take a rest. The shorter stops are to refill on water and gatorade (or to grab a muffin for breakfast). Today I stopped at a trailer that I have been wanting to try since Sunday. It is called "Pastafari" and it sells some very good pasta. Customers then relax in the shade and listen to reggae music. I spent quite some time there today and was so relaxed that I didn't want to leave.
I rode almost 78 miles today. The first 58 were very enjoyable. The last 20 not so much. The weather was excellent this morning with some cloud cover. Even once the clouds broke the day didn't heat up too badly. We stayed in the 80s with a bit of a wind. The roads were mostly flat, which added to the enjoyment. But in the last 20 miles the rollers started again and the hills turned steep. I couldn't make the stretch without stopping once, catching my breath, and drinking an entire gatorade.
The final ride in to Coralville was wonderful. We were on a smooth divided highway with only one hill. Since this is "college spirit day" the road was lined with college logos from all the riders. As I went flying down the hills I anxiously looked for mine. Yes, it was there!
Tomorrow is the last day of RAGBRAI. There were times when I never thought I would make it to the end. Now I nearly have. However, family obligations are putting some time pressure on our return to Atlanta. So I have decided to start the last day in the town of Wilton, which is the middle of the day's ride. This will ensure that I get to Davenport in a timely fashion and we will be able to return home to Atlanta by late Saturday. It will reduce the day's 65 mile ride to about 30 miles.