We rolled out of Sac City’s Historic Chautauqua Park in the morning after taking a group photo in front of the town’s historic Chautauqua Building, a beautiful white enclosed structure and gathering place. One of the RAGBRAI organizers in Sac City told us about the plans for breakfast in the building during the ride this July as well as plans for a beer garden in the park for RAGBRAI participants as they spend the night in Sac City. Sounds fun!
After a relaxed six miles, we stopped in Lytton — my favorite stop of the day! Volunteers stood outside the local fire department handing out slices of homemade pie, The Little Green Truck Coffee Co. prepared delicious coffee for the pre-ride crew and two local goats wandered around us occasionally stopping to say hello. Lytton will be trying to break the Guinness World Record for the largest goat yoga during the full RAGBRAI ride in July (the current record stands at 501 people and 115 goats)! RAGBRAI organizers presented a check to the Lytton Fire Department after fundraising on their behalf. This made us think about the incredible economic impact that bike events like RAGBRAI can have on some of these small Iowa towns, bringing a huge influx of potential customers to small businesses and local economies along the route.
The segments on today’s ride felt much more flat and gentle than Day 1 as we continued on through the corn and the countryside. Eastern Iowa has a lot of corn fields! The corn is not very tall right now, but we were told that it’ll be above our shoulders by later this summer. This part of the state is also known for geometric, quilt-like patterns that adorn the sides of barns and signs called barn quilts — a great example of public art in the rural countryside. 12 miles later, we reached Yetter to snack and rest outside the Town Hall, chatting with neighbors who came outside to say hello. Our next stop was Lake City, Iowa. A big fountain sits at the center of Lake City’s town square surrounded by benches and park space. The group ate lunch from the Pork Chop Shop and Feed Shed food trucks, two of the RAGBRAI vendors that will be out along the route later this summer.
Rinard (population 52) was another one of our favorite stops of the day. We spent a long time sitting around in Rinard and really enjoyed it. We rested in Rinard City Park, spun around the merry-go-round and enjoyed refreshing sips of the Iowa Beer Bus’ Watermelon Cider while snacking on Casey’s Pizza, an Iowa gas station staple. We got the chance to meet really cool people along for the ride who love RAGBRAI and the cycling community in Iowa. Murph has toured all across the state, participated in countless RAGBRAIs and organized the first women-specific bike ride in Iowa along with the Iowa Bike Coalition! She also hosts her own Murphology podcast where she interviews people about their adventures on bikes. She’s a treasure-trove of Iowa and bicycle knowledge. We only got a small taste of the cool people you’ll meet during the full event. By the time we left Rinard, it was starting to get pretty hot again. When we reached Callender, ice cream and shakes at Hummingbird Confections hit the spot.
When we got to Moorland seven miles later, some of the crew stopped in a little dive bar while others talked to the town’s RAGBRAI organizers. Locals were excited to ask us where we were from and share their excitement for the big event. The ride into Fort Dodge was a little dodgy along the side of a busier highway and along some higher-stress city streets. The RAGBRAI team is working hard with state and local officials across Iowa to ensure safe, comfortable traffic conditions for RAGBRAI participants during the full event. Part of our task as the pre-ride crew was to look out for safety hazards so everyone can be safe later this summer. Be very careful here if you’re riding this route outside of RAGBRAI. After spending so much time in really small towns, Fort Dodge felt big and busy despite a population of just 25,000. We made it to the hotel very eager to rest after a fun 67-or-so-mile day!