We were told everyone gets a burst of energy on the last day of RAGBRAI, and we felt it! We were eager and excited to make it to the Mississippi River. Riding 451 miles across Iowa is an accomplishment and something to celebrate! As luck would have it, we faced a strong headwind as we headed north from DeWitt on our way to Charlotte, just 12 miles away. We were rolling through quintessential Iowa landscapes — sloping roads, fields of corn and grass, hay bales and farms, pigs, cows, tractors all around us.
Eager to reach the Mississippi, our stops were shorter in the towns we passed on the route today. In Charlotte, we stopped for refreshments at Dad’s Place. We ordered two cups of coffee and lubed up our bike chains. They were getting pretty squeaky and dry after six days of so much riding through the heat. One perk of participating in RAGBRAI is that the ride offers vehicle support if your bike breaks down on the route. Local bike shop tents along the route and repair services in each overnight town offer discounted repairs for all participants, too! (Watch: Ride Spot 101: Maintain Your Chain)
Approaching Goose Lake, we rode through a beautiful stretch of road alongside ponds and streams in the Goose Lake Wildlife Management Area. We chatted with AP, RAGBRAI’s social media manager. AP became one of our closest friends on the pre-ride. We joked that it felt like we’d been on the RAGBRAI pre-ride for way longer than a week. Check out some of the great content she shares on RAGBRAI’s instagram account. Brian Powers, photojournalist for the Des Moines Register, also captured some incredible photos from the pre-ride route.
We met with Goose Lake town officials outside Hoffy’s Bar and Grill (and gas station), parching our thirst with water and electrolyte drinks. Rehydrated and ready for the final 15 miles to the Mississippi, we rolled on! There was a gentle climb out of Goose Lake and then it was almost all downhill to Clinton. Before we rolled into town, we regrouped on a dirt road off State Highway 136, accidentally startling some chickens resting in the shade nearby.
We descended into Clinton, riding through beautiful urban canopy on small town streets until we reached the Mississippi! 451 miles from our start in LeMars, we made it! We dipped our front tires in the Mississippi per RAGBRAI tradition upon reaching the east side of the state.
Clinton’s waterfront has great spots to sit, eat, enjoy the beauty of the Mississippi and celebrate riding across the state of Iowa with RAGBRAI friends, old and (very likely) new! We toasted to the accomplishment. With just one RAGBRAI pre-ride under our belt, we have many to go to catch up with the most experienced Iowans. We left with an appreciation for RAGBRAI and the way it brings together communities and uplifts small towns across Iowa through bikes. I can’t wait to see pictures of these same roads filled with 12,000 riders traversing the state later this July and return for a full RAGBRAI in the future!