RAGBRAI Day 7: That’s a wrap

All across Iowa, residents pulled up lawn chairs and watched the parade pass. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

All across Iowa, residents pulled up lawn chairs and watched the parade pass. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

It’s time to pack up my lycra cycling kit and get used to wearing shoes without cleats again.

I ticked off the final 50 miles of RAGBRAI this morning and dipped the tires of my bicycle into the Mighty Mississippi before noon.

Kimery Duda poses in front of a mural in a small Iowa town. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Kimery Duda poses in front of a mural in a small Iowa town. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

The biggest impression I’ll take away from this seven-day, 420-mile rolling carnival? Iowa is filled with generous, friendly people who might think cyclists are a little crazy, but open their homes to them anyway.

Last night June and Dan Henderson of Washington, Iowa, invited us to camp in their back yard and swim in their neighborhood pond. Dan even pulled out his guitar to serenade us as the sun settled behind the cornfields that cover so much of the state. And June, who runs a small gift shop in town, told me that her shop did two week’s worth of business in the span of a single day.

We went to bed as fireflies winked over the dewy grass, and woke up early, ready to bring our ride home.

Sweet corn is a staple food of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Sweet corn is a staple food of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Today’s ride featured a corn dog for breakfast, a homemade cinnamon roll for a mid-morning snack, a  stroll across the crazily-swinging bridge of Columbus Junction, a few moments cycling along a guy riding one of those big-wheeled antique bicycles and another visit with the ride’s oldest participants.

Clarence Rosenberg, 90, and Lucy Bonham, 89, stop to chat on the final day of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Clarence Rosenberg, 90, and Lucy Bonham, 89, stop to chat on the final day of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Clarence Rosenberg, 90, met up with his female counterpart, Lucy Bonham, 89, at the top of a hill in one little town, where they paused to catch their breath and compare notes about how the ride has gone.

This makes 24 RAGBRAIs for Bonham, who attached a little sign to the back of her bike to let folks know her age.

“A lot of kids holler at me that I don’t know, and that’s so refreshing and nice,” she said.

Rosenberg said his week had gone well, with no real problems.

No telling how much pie riders ate during this year's RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

No telling how much pie riders ate during this year’s RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Today’s ride was relatively short and flat, a nice way to end a week on a bicycle.

Now I’ve got that 13-hour van ride home ahead of me.

Pam LeBlanc reached the Mighty Mississippi today.

Pam LeBlanc reached the Mighty Mississippi today.

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