03 RAGBRIA Day 1


RAGBRAI Route Day 1


Double Dip

We set off at 7:30 AM but it’s a ride to the river, first. The traditional start, curiously, is to dip a rear wheel in the Missouri River then in 7 days, dip your front wheel in the Mississippi River. We needed tradition so off to the river. Terri, our new friend we met last night was with us, she missed the truck so is carrying all her own things. A pretty big load that she’s not used to. It was 8:00 when we rolled up the highway and only 65 degrees. The day stayed decent temp wise. The route according to the map is 68 1/2 miles. We can do it.

This first stage is supposed to be the most difficult as hills go. Our friend Sheila will start at the half way point trying not to agitate her torn Achilles. Guess what, it is hilly. We rode hard, had to wait at times for Terri. We stopped for cold drinks and watched the crazies drink and dance. Onward, we pressed to the half way point and stopped for Pasta, Pastafarian, pretty good but a half hour in line to get it. Onward, to another little town, stopped at a beer booth, passed on that but had Cola and Gatorade. We decided to ride the final 23 miles without stop. Told Terri we’d wait in town but that didn’t work. Our Talleyrand campsite is through town we chose to ride on.


Set the tent for the first time in at least 6 years. Tough to remember. The crowd is very familiar with each other. We’re strangers. As the evening wore on, we became less so. Nice folks. We drank wine and chatted then needed food. Farmer John, our host took us back to town. We walked the streets trying to find a restaurant. All had waits of at least 45 minutes. Bought turkey sandwiches from a vendor, pretty good. Sat in a doorway and chatted with other cyclists as we ate. John picked us back up. It’s now 11:06 PM here and we’re headed to the tent. Good night sweet friends.

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Anne & Fam

Larry and Sheila, friends from Ventura,  called, we went down and voila, there were Anne, husband Ray and sons, Ben and Nolan, they’re from Colorado. Anne is the daughter of Lee, the guy that got us into The Talleyrand Bike Club. The hard core Talleyranders are camping tonight in Branson, 15 miles out of town. Due to that, Anne and Ray have become are our personal SAG WAGON. They picked up our gear and will transport it to the campsite.  They did have time to walk the Expo, see A MIllion Spokes and get to the wheel dipping ceremony before heading for Talleyrand’s #1 camp. 

Terri and Tom will join us for dinner at Luciano’s Italian Rest. Also, just heard from Larry and Sheila from Ventura. They are coming over and we’ll all dine together. She Is riding, he will have to sit this one out due to severe diverticulitis. They have really had a string of bad luck. She has a torn Achilles tendon.

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Tom & Terry

Last night we attended the Premier Showing of “A Million Spokes”. A Docu-Film about last year’s RAGBRAI. It was a wonderful film with much more than just bicycling. While there we met Tom & Terri. She’s riding, he’s going on to meet friends n Nebraska. We met them for breakfast then Terri took a test ride with us down to the river. She has lost 50 pounds over the past 2 years through diet and exercise. A real success story! 


We spent more than an hour as Kelly at Albrecht Cycle Shop struggled with the problem. They had the bikes while we were visiting Jim and Colleen. The rear wheel brake vibrates. He tried everything to no avail though he did dampen it down a bit. What nice guys at that shop. They’ve been there for years.  


Kelly Tests

Spent time talking with the Specialized personnel who couldn’t help. They sent me to a bike shop with a display in the Expo. He suggested replacing the brake arms but didn’t have the parts. So, I ride with a vibration. We walked the Expo then I got on this Blog and Cat took the bus back to WalMart to get Contact Lens’, she’d lost one down the drain. 


Git Fiddle



Smash Mouth


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02 Duddleston Days


Jim's Bus

Friends in need, in deed. Well we walked around Sioux City, that doesn’t take long. Then we took the bus to WalMart, that was a treat of a trip. Very good system, we now believe that everyone should have to take public transportation at least once a week. Those who use it daily are folks you’d only meet on the bus. Many know each other, bus friendships. And, the tickets are very inexpensive.

Our friends, Jim and Colleen invited us to visit them at their place on The Great Spirit Lake. We tried to find any transportation to get there. When we called them Jim said, “The only transportation from Sioux City is ME! I’ll drive in and pick you up. Wow, now that’s friendship, it’s 1 1/2 hours in then 11/2 back. We took him to lunch but that’s small compensation.


Beautiful Hqme

They have a wonderful place right on the lake with boat dock. Jim was planning on his famous Barbque then the skys opened and buckets of rain came pouring down. We all thought the steaks would be broiled inside but the storm passed quickly. We relaxed, Jim cooked on the Que then the weather had calmed and the sun shone through. Since the sun doesn’t set until 9:00 PM they took us for a cruise on their boat. Really nice, cool and relaxing. What a beautiful place.

On day two, Jim and I went to lunch with his Rotary Club. In the afternoon we Jim got his Land Yacht (1969 Cadillac) out. We drove around and surveyed the storm damage then drove to Lake Okoboji for a cruise on the

Rotary Club

Queen II. Another lovely way to relax and learn about the lakes. They were formed eons ago by the Wisconsin Glaciers. Spirit lake is shallow, only 22 feet deep however Okoboji West is very deep, one area drops off to 125 feet. There is a small Amusement Park that reminds me of my childhood in Spokane Washington. In fact when I was a kid we often went to Liberty Lake and would swim and play all day. Great place, great memories.  We dined lakeside at Rebos. (That’s sober spelled backward.) After dining we took in the Theatre, a play called Company performed by the Drama Class from Stevens College. Interesting. It began to rain again on the way back home.

Day three, a day of rest. It rained almost all night long. Colleen was up and out early, an appointment with their attorney regarding some construction defects during their addition and rehab. We lounged around again then in the afternoon Jim took us for a cruise completely around Great Spirit. We saw a lot more storm damage, trees down and furniture thrown around. The weather is so changeable, almost moment to moment. We had a beautiful afternoon going so we went to the Barefoot Beach Bar, Dinner of appetizers and the joy of watching kids doing Karaoke.

Land Yacht


Lake Yacht



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01 Three States and The Expressway


Iowa, at Last!

We cycled past South Sioux City and were preparing to celebrate when we realized, South Sioux City is still in Nebraska. Then with anticipation building we rode by Dakota City and found that we had escaped Nebraska but were now in South Dakota? At last, long last, in the middle of the bridge over muddy waters, mighty Mo, the Missouri River, we were under the sign welcoming us to Iowa. Our self supported days were coming to an end. We were on the verge of completing our RAGBRAI or BUST journey. Before we swooped down onto Highway 29, the express way into Sioux City we stopped for a singing celebration. 

Finally Sioux City

Sioux City

We rolled down The US 29 Expressway ducking and dodging at each on and off ramp. Once into Sioux City it all came quite easily. The signs guided us right into Historic 4th Street and up to the door of the Clarion Hotel. No bands or fanfare no whoopla or faldoral, just us. As I began to set the little tri-pod up for a final photo a sort of homeles looking guy, Kenneth, walked up. We asked him to be our photographer. He was very happy to be part of our history. Yes, that’s the picture on the left. He did a good job AND we now have a new friend in Sioux City, Iowa.

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44 There’s Injuns in Them Thar Hills


Omaha Originals

The weather remains cool but the road began to pitch upward at the boundary of the Omaha Indian Reservation. We stopped at the Dollar Store but they had no sandwiches. Cat asked about a restaurant and they sent us toward, Homer. Just around the corner we found a service station store with sandwiches. Cat said, “Why do poeple do that? Send you 6 miles when there’s food so close?”  I reminded her that we’d asked for a cafe. You gotta be specific!



Long Time Locals

The hills began immediately before the sandwiches had settled in. Another example of how flat it’s not here. The last long pull was straight and steep.  At the summit we pulled off the road to a Scenic Overlook. Inside the gazebo we spotted a young girl lying on top of a young guy. We thought they were making a papoose? The girl glanced up then began pulling away from the embrace and started trying to get her man to his feet. Our image of love making was shattered, he had to lean on her to walk. Obviously he’d had too much Saturday night.

Mountainous Nebraska Winnebago

We could see the Missouri River through the trees winding it’s way through the valley it has created over eons. Beyond the summit wasn’t all down hill but the ups were slighter and the downs faster and longer.  Finally on the flats we entered the Winnebago Reservation and saw our first buffalo of the trip. Hard to imagine that just 140 years ago the plains were covered with the beasts.

Buffalo Roam

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43 Nebraska, Corn, Soy and Fishin’


Sun Beams

The road out of Tekamah was flat. Gaps between clouds exposed patches of blue. The scenery has changed little or maybe we should say, has changed very slowly since way back in Kansas. More wide open spaces filled with corn and soy bean fields. Grain trucks continue to ply their routes from field to silo giving us wide berth as they pass.  We almost missed what shall become our favorite and most creative mailbox. We almost didn’t get it then Cat said, “Hey it’s a fishing pole with a bass on the line.”

Grain Truck

Needs Work

Prairie Flowers

Bass Mailbox

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42 Tehamah toward Iowa


Tehamah Family

Lightening lite up the sky and our room through the cracks between the vertical blinds. Then the thunder, each clap felt like it would shake the roof down on us. Most dogs handle thunder better than the Cat does. She fears lightening, part of the reason why we hit the local weather reports at the crack of dawn. It died down slowly about 3:00 AM. Mornings light came streaming through the blinds, the sky was full of white clouds. Our friendly and helpful family, Mouconna from Ethiopia, his wife Gemma from Mexico City and their two girls posed for a photo then gave us a friendly send-off. Thankfully, it was much cooler this morning.

Breakfast plans at Subway were dashed, it was closed. Sunday morning in a small town, what to do? Hint, there are a dozen pickup trucks clustered around The City Bus Stop Cafe. The place reeks of local history. Probably been dishin’ out eggs, bacon and biscuits for 3 or 4 generations. It was all old guys clustered around the few big tables, save two women who left as we entered. They and all seated gave us the once over then settled back in to their usual, normal, typical conversations. (Weather, road and farm conditions and of course memories.)

The cook is a looker, perhaps in her late 30s. The waitress is young, maybe 16 and dressed in very short cut off Levis. She does get attention from all the old guys as she passes the coffee pot from cup to cup. Then when she took our order she went ot the window and called the cook, “Mom”. Another generational team. 



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41 Leaving Home, Boy’s Home


Leaving Magnolia

After 4 nights and 3 full days of Luxury it really was like leaving home, leaving the Magnolia and its Air Conditioning behind. Omaha is another of those proof of hills in Nebraska places. We got away by 8:30, it was already 88 degrees and the air was thick. The TV Weather had warned us that the heat index would hit 109 and it turned out that they were right. We ran into a group, at least 100,cyclists on an out and back ride. They waved, gave us thumbs ups and warnings, “Drink plenty of liquids.”

Fr Flannigan's

Who of us hasn’t bought the Christmas Stamps from Father Flanagan’s Boys Town? On a strong uphill pull we saw the result of those donations.




Once we broke into countryside the road was flat, the air think and hot. It’s a little over 100 miles to Sioux City. Too much for one day and there’s only one potential stop over, Tehamah. On the out skirts of town Cat began to melt down. We stopped under a tree but moved on when the bugs began to bite.  Another stop,sit in the sun and pour water over her head then we rode directly to the Tehamah Motel. It’s old and small but adequate, we got the bikes crammed in then walked back to the Dairy King for lunch.

The D K was a magnet for locals. One couple sat in the corner holding court as others came and went, ice cream cones in hand. He is the Tekamah Building Inspector, she works for an attorney, they’ve both lived here, all their lives. Fun for us to listen to the patter and joking among lifelong friends. His brother lives in Ojai, CA, our favorite bike ride back home.

The cook and order taker are mother and daughter. Mom is constantly scolding  daughter to do more and do it better. Using a wet rag, mom began wiping a table top then sang out “Look at this, you call this clean? This looks like shit, why can’t I get you to do things right?” ( A generational teaching technique that my mother used to use.)

Spent the afternoon lounging and recouping. Cat talked with the family about a place for dinnr and Gemma, the wife, insisted on driving us to Rumors Lounge and Restaurant. Another immersion into local life. The bar was a hang out for half a dozen regulars sippin’ beers. The Restaurant filled in with families, Grandparent to young kids. Our waitress was cute but knew nothing about wine. She had the barmaid come out to serve us. Turns out she’s 18 and in Nebraska you must be 19 or older to serve alcohol. She’s been working here since age 14. Wine from CA in splits and wonderful steaks topped off an otherwise tough day. 


Courthouse Courthouse


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40 Cat Counsels & Old Market

Dr. Cat & Gary

One of our favorite features at the Magnolia is Happy Hour. The wine flows freely as does conviviality. Cat overheard a guy telling the Bartender his troubles and couldn’t help but apply her Degree in Counseling skills. Gary is here working a fairly new job. His wife also has a career and remained back home in Philly. Gary resided in the Magnolia for 1 1/2 months then took an apartment. He comes every evening for Happy Hour. He and Cat became a fixture at the end of the bar. Free advice as we say, “It’s worth what you’re paying for it!”

 The Old Market area is just 3 blocks down the street. A wonderful collection of restored old brick buildings with restaurants and shopping. We walked down every night for dinner. Mounted Police, horse drawn carriages, brick streets sort of reminded us of New Orleans.

Mounted Police

Old Market


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