We stopped for a group photo in front of the American Gothic sculpture before continuing on our ride through Grant Wood Country. Wildflowers and native grasses lined the roads out of Anamosa. Day 6’s route is about 64 miles, a solid length but easy compared to yesterday’s effort!
Hale is about 17 miles from Anamosa and was our first stop of the day. This was another longer stretch between towns. Personally, we enjoyed the longer stretch of riding. Some of the days earlier in the week include frequent stops in towns. Due to the nature of the RAGBRAI pre-ride and the importance of meeting with local organizers and officials along the way, we stopped every time we passed through a town. It sounds like the full RAGBRAI is what you make it! You can stop as little or as often as you want to experience destinations along the way. On the way to Hale, we saw a flock of pelicans circling overhead, a reminder that we were reaching the Mississippi.
We sipped on cups of coffee outside Hale Tap & Supper Club, looking across the street into the countryside as a tractor rolled by. We checked out the small cemetery and a grain elevator covered in vines.
We kept riding through the countryside to Oxford Junction, just five miles away. RAGBRAI leadership met with public safety officials in the fire department to discuss the route and prepare for the full RAGBRAI this July. Oxford Junction had one of the most well stocked grocery stores of the small towns we’d seen so far! The fridges and freezers are supplied with a wide range of food and beverages and there’s also a small section of fresh fruits and vegetables. We rolled around town a bit to check out old buildings before continuing on our way. A water tower marked the location of Lost Nation seven miles in the distance. Upon arriving, we had lunch at the Pub Club. The RAGBRAI pre-ride gave business owners the chance to ask RAGBRAI organizers and experts questions about what type of food and drinks to serve to participants, so pre-ride crew members offered their advice and opinions based on their experience in years past while the Pub Club’s manager took detailed notes.
Huge cumulus clouds bubbled up in the sky above us as we rode 13 miles to Calamus, our second-to-last stop of the day. It was really, really hot when we reached Calamus. Some of the RAGBRAI pre-ride crew went into Steffens’ Tap to take a break from the heat while we sat in the shade by the support vehicle. Some of the pre-ride crew members were leaving our group that day so we started to say our goodbyes before they split off on the final leg. It’s incredible how well you get to know people when you spend upwards of eight hours a day riding bikes through rural Iowa. That’s quality, uninterrupted time together. When people say that they make friends for life on RAGBRAI, it makes sense.
We had a tailwind behind us for the last 16 miles to DeWitt. We stopped a few miles outside town on a farm, where a member of the DeWitt RAGBRAI organizing committee shared snacks and refreshments with the pre-ride crew. The lush, forested, windy roads just outside DeWitt felt like we were riding through a nature preserve. We rang our bike bells and waved at people we passed on our way into town who smiled, waving back.
We gathered under the water tower near Lincoln Park in Downtown DeWitt. The town’s RAGBRAI organizers explained their plans for live music, beer gardens, campgrounds, and local transportation when RAGBRAI comes through this July. It sounds like DeWitt will be a great overnight stop! After a celebratory happy hour with the local organizers, we walked down main street to Golden Wok for dinner, enjoying some edamame, Szechuan tofu and other delicious Chinese food! Afterwards, we sat outside on the patio of Murphy’s Pub, sipping on a seltzer and watching the sunset.