Riders Thursday morning pedaling up the last big hill out of Hudson were entertained by Prairie Rose Dance Troupe. The Waterloo-based foursome of Middle Eastern belly dancers turned pirate for RAGBRAI in keeping with the first pass-through town’s chosen theme.
“We’re doing a few of our favorite little numbers here for the enjoyment — or the frightening, either way — of the passing bicyclists,” said Sue Harden.

Fright was possible: The troupe brandished large swords as they twirled and gyrated in their colorful, flowing dresses with bare midriffs.

A note atop the ladies’ tip canister proclaimed, “Tips aarrrgghh appreciated.”

Some bicyclists stopped for a photo opportunity between songs, giving their best guttural pirate growl for the camera.

Duane Carlson, husband of dancer Anne Carlson, sat nearby and pointed out that the dancers also were RAGBRAI veterans, so they knew their crowd well.

Carlson himself rode the third RAGBRAI, his first of about eight full treks.

“There weren’t many riders that year,” he mused. “That was pretty cool.”

Back in 1975 riders went in search of the nearest pay phone when they hit an overnight town. I don’t know whether they encountered any pirates.

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