Thursday, July 31, 2008


I finally got the photos downloaded off my camera yesterday, so thought it was about time to wrapup RAGBRAI with some images. Melinda posted the pics of the buffet line when we stayed with our hosts between Iowa City and North Liberty. Dean and Maggie live out in the woods in a very small development (15 homes) adjacent to the Coralville Reservoir. It was only a month ago that daily torrential rains filled the reservoir and flooded Iowa City and other towns in the Iowa River valley.
After the pasta feed, our hosts offered us a boat ride around the lake. As we walked the 300 yards to the docks, I spied a couple deer and snapped a shot - it wasn't until afterwards that I zoomed in and saw the doe in the photo too.
Maggie pointed out the high-water line that the reservoir reached before the spillway was finally reached. The boat owners had to move their tie-offs daily as the levels rose to be able to maintain control of their craft. As we descended the hill to the docks, Maggie stayed at that high-water line and remains visible in the shot from below... Host Dean indicated that the deepest part of the reservoir is about 30 feet, and apparently the water level rose about that much as well, so the reservoir volume increased by many times. An article in the 17 July Daily Iowan quoted data from the Corps of Engineers indicating storage went from about 30,000 acre-ft in March to 550,000 acre-ft in mid-June, an increase in storage volume of about 20 times!

The last picture from thursday shows a few of our team on the boat. From the right we have Mike, Denise, Denise's daughter (visiting from IC), Joanna, and Brad. The boatride was great, though it was darkening quickly. We toured the public access area, the dam and spillway area and a couple coves, scaring up a number of herons in the process.
Friday we pushed on to Tipton where we stayed in the yard of a friend of my sister Kathy. She came to visit for a bit when she got off work, and when she finally headed home, I toured the small town and took a couple photos.
Tipton has a population of about 5,000, so adding 15,000 plus people for an overnight is quite the deal. The town seemed quite organized, however, with many campgrounds scattered thru town. This one is at the middle school and is typical of a RAGBRAI camp. Usually there are showers available in the school's locker room and there are port-a-johns (called Kybos on RAGBRAI) available close by.
Another necessity - food is usually available from vendors that follow the ride, as well as local merchants that are nearly overwhelmed by the crush of hungry bikers. Pictured is one of the local churches serving lasagna with a huge line waiting to get in. Most churches like this eventually run out of food - a bit upsetting if you've been standing in line for a long time, but good for the moneymaking activities of the congregation.

And while Kathy told me about this, I wasn't sure I believed her until I saw the sign - a beef sundae! There are many food specialities alive and well on RAGBRAI, including the "walking taco" (bag of doritos with ground beef, lettuce and cheese mixed in), any of a number of meats on a stick, and Mr Pork Chop sells you a half pound pork chop with a napkin, but it was my first exposure to a pit beef sundae!
Saturday the riders pushed on to LeClair, a small town on the Mississippi. In addition of throwing in 12,000+ riders and their support vehicles, the town is right next to the I-80 bridge across the river and they've recently discovered some cracks in the steelwork, closing down a lane in each direction. So it literally took me nearly 2 hours to get the last 3 miles into town and to a place to meet the bikes coming in. But eventually the riders all came in, and Melinda found me as well (how did we get along without cellphones?).
It was a nice week - we missed much of the hot, humid weather that can make the ride really miserable. But it isn't as much fun for the support drivers, and after 3 years, I think my term is about up. I dont think I can go back to riding because of the usual hot weather, so I may be retiring from RAGBRAI too. Plus it is a different event from years past - many of the memorable old-timers are missing - John Lowry died a few years ago, John Hill had a stroke 2 years ago (though he did make it down to visit us on thursday!). Harold, Norb, Mike and Jo have all dropped out from the ride and I miss them all. We'll see how much of an attraction I feel in february when they announce the route for July '09!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Note about lake level: The photo represents 717.2. The lake started spilling @ 712. The record in '93 was 716.??

From Dean the host.