We eventually turned off that road and headed towards our first pass-thru town, Malvern. We had to walk downhill to the main part of town (understandable) then enjoyed their hospitality. I met one little girl who was not riding, but was there awed to see so many cyclists. She seemed like she wanted to ask me something so i said "do you want to ask me a question?" She continued to look at me dumbstruck and her mother said "its so funny because she had a ton of questions a minute ago." I finally coaxed a question out of her and that seemed to break the ice. Then she got talkative!
On the next section of road, ragbrai designated a section as the "mile of silence" to pay tribute to all the cyclists who have died this year in accidents with automobiles. Everyone rode quietly through the stretch. It was a very nice touch and a good way to honor those victims. There were signs during the mile with various facts and other information.
In the next town, Tabor, i met a woman (not riding) who was waiting for her family to show up. Her young daughter was on the back of a tandem with dad, while her older son was on his own bike. The mom said she figured her daughter would be "done" by that point (25 miles in to the ride). I didn't stay long enough to see the family arrive, so I don't know the outcome. From there I moved on to the town square to grab a bite to eat. They featured an inflatable waterslide as well as "chicken poop bingo." Yes that is pretty much what it sounds like: wait for a chicken to drop something on your number. While eating lunch i overheard a family conversation with a dad and his two daughters, the older was probably 14 or so. They were discussing today's "gravel loop" which was an optional section of the route that was partly on gravel roads. The dad and the younger daughter wanted to ride it, but the older daughter clearly did not. As a way to encourage her to get on board the dad said "but if you don't go you will miss the town of Imogen. Her response was "DAD, they don't put towns on gravel roads!"
I didn't spend much time in the third town, Randolph, but quickly started the last stretch of 17 miles in to Shenandoah. It was nearly noon and was getting hot! I couldn't do the whole section in one stretch like i had hoped, and I had to take a break partway due to the heat. Finally arrived in Shenandoah and found the campsite. It was a successful 50 mile day.
Tomorrow's ride is much longer and a bit more challenging.