RAGBRAI – Last Day

I mentioned the challenges I was having with my internet connection in my last post. The Verizon signal was fine – the trouble was the number of people trying use the cell tower all at once. I finally gave up uploading the photos for that post, so I’ll post a few here the really should have been in the last entry.

This shot gives an indication of how many riders stopped at the Iowa Craft Beer Tent. This is less than half of the bicycles that were parked there while we were there.

Bikes in the farmer’s yard by the beer tent

Tom, Deb and Donna at the Iowa Craft Beer Tent

After we returned to the fairgrounds, I took a walk around. I found way more tents in the area than I’d seen before. One large area had tents lined up in neat, orderly rows with the tents all numbered.

Numbered tents

I talked to a couple there and they told me what the deal was. A company provides a tent for two people with cots – you get the same tent and cots each night. They set up the tents and take them down to transport to the next site. The cost for the week long RAGBRAI event is $800/person or $1600 if you want a tent to yourself. They thought it was well worth it.

Off in the distance, I could see vehicles parked along the edge of a road with tents set up alongside for half a mile or more.

Long line of tents in the distance

I saw another colorful schoolie too.

Colorful schoolie

On Friday evening, Jeff Spencer grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs. We set up both of our Weber Qs to handle the volume of food. The dinner was excellent as usual – we cut up our chicken and served it over salad.

Both grills in action

I put the grill in the trailer and secured both of my bikes before bedtime.

Saturday morning started out just like the previous six days – alarm clock went off at 5:30am followed by coffee and breakfast. Then Donna and I prepped the coach for travel and everyone was ready to roll by 6:30am.

Day seven – Waukon to Lansing

After our riders headed out, we caravaned in our usual fashion – Deb took the lead, I was in the middle followed by Fred. We had our route planned but ran into a snag a few miles down the road. The route we wanted was IA9 east to Lansing – a short drive of about 14 miles. But we hit a barricaded IA9 at Lycurgus Road and had to detour to the north. This route took us along ridges where we could see foggy valleys – we ended up in the fog for several miles. The riders went south, then east through the Yellow River State Forest – with significant climbs – to Harper’s Ferry. Then they followed the Mississippi River north with two more long hills leading to Lansing. It was a relatively short route at 45 miles, but the total ascent of about 2,900 feet made it a difficult day.

We entered the town of Lansing from the north on IA26. Traffic was bumper to bumper and crawling for the last few miles to town. Once in town, it was chaotic. The parking situation was not good. We were directed through residential streets skirting the downtown area and vehicles were parallel parked on the narrow streets. We kept going hoping to find a large lot somewhere.

On the west end of town, Deb realized that we would soon be on IA9 heading back to Waukon, so she pulled into a large concrete parking pad in front of a house. It was large enough for all three of us. But there was a problem. The homeowner came out on his balcony and said something to Deb. She told him we were trying to figure out where we could park. His reply was, “It’s not here!”

There was a mini-storage facility across the street. We walked over to check it out. There was a painted sign at the front entrance that said Lot H, but it also had a No Parking sign and yellow tape across the entrance. Behind the storage buildings, we saw a large fifth-wheel trailer support vehicle. We looked around and there was enough room for us, but I wouldn’t be able to get turned around if I entered from the back side.

So we came up with a simple solution – Fred pulled the yellow tape – Deb and I rolled in the front entrance and drove around the building to park with the RV in back. Fred replaced the tape. He parked on the street with his passenger side wheels right at the edge of a ditch and his driver’s side a few feet into the street. It was a quiet street with only a handful of houses on it and cars could easily get past. I put out orange traffic cones in front of and behind his rig.

Meanwhile we saw a few other people try the large concrete pad and the homeowner quickly kicked them out. Fred and I walked to a gas station/convenience store a few hundred yards away and bought breakfast pizzas. When we were coming back, I saw two volunteers in orange Lansing shirts removing the yellow tape and no parking sign. I asked them what the deal was. They were holding the spot for one team with a schoolie! I asked them how that worked and all I got was a shrug.

A woman in a black car showed up and started berating our group for parking in her neighborhood. She demanded that Fred get his RV off the street. I was feeling pretty fed up at that point and told her what nice people we’ve met all across Iowa and how each town was so accommodating of the RAGBRAI event – except for Lansing. She said, “We’re a small town, we don’t need this!” I told her that they’ve all been small towns and walked away. Apparently the woman called the police. An officer on an ATV showed up. He said we can’t block driveways or the street. I asked him if we were blocking anything. He looked around and said, “I’m just trying to keep the peace” and rode off up the street toward the complainants house. We didn’t hear from him again and settled down to wait for our riders.

All four riders found us by by 11:20am. We quickly packed our stuff and said our goodbyes until next time. All three of our RVs had separate destinations. That’s how RAGBRAI XLV ended for us. It was a great week, lots of fun with good people. I’m not going to let a couple of sour people in Lansing spoil my memories of great time. Donna had a quick shower and we were on our way. All three of our rigs headed back to Waukon before going in various directions. Going back through Lansing was not a viable option as traffic was completely snarled. For miles heading west on IA9, we saw RVs and buses lining both sides of the highway plus cyclists looking for their drivers. It was slow going for a few miles but nothing compared to town. I’ll write about our trip in my next post.

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