First of all, Fort Dodge RAGBRAI Committee, thank you for welcoming us and for the much needed relaxing prime rib cookout last night!
After gathering at Fort Dodge High School (home to the Fort Dodge Dodgers) our group of about 30 rolled out of town. The roads between Fort Dodge and Duncombe are about as smooth as you could ask for and after two long days of riding we appreciated it. We did battle strong crosswinds and headwinds all day, but the hospitality and generosity of the towns made everything better. There was some construction on the route today, but it was a minor inconvenience and it means you will have a nicer ride in a few weeks. The Karras Loop was challenging today because of the headwinds, but if you go all four directions you’re bound to have tailwinds eventually! Radcliffe, the loop town, will be hosting RAGBRAI for the first time ever and they are ready to pull out all the stops. Speaking of which, Eldora confirmed what many riders suspect – that small towns make up for what they lack in population with an abundance of welcoming hospitality. Be ready for a Wheely Good Time when we return in a few short weeks.
The cities we visited on the third day of our ride were Fort Dodge, Duncombe, Webster City, Boondocks, Williams, Alden (meeting town), Buckeye, Radcliffe (Karras Loop) and Eldora. We rode 71.5 miles (or 98.8 with the Karras Loop), and had 1,490 feet of climb.
The town of Duncombe has always been a patriotic community always willing to serve its country. The American Legion Auxiliary supports the activities of the American Legion for the Veterans and community. Stop by and see the memorial, and the parade of flags on Main Street that the auxiliary has established for its fallen Veterans.
Duncombe will be the place to eat your first breakfast of the day, not only will they have Chris Cakes, but also local groups and 2-3 outside vendors will be serving breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, sweet rolls, and many other breakfast items. We sampled the cinnamon rolls and breakfast casseroles at the Fire Station and they were just the thing to get us on our way.
Some of the not for profit groups in town will be raising money for the Veterans Honor Flight to Washington DC, as well as raising money to send local high school students on a trip to DC. Supporting their veterans is an important part of this community, and they will appreciate our help!
Those who rode RAGBRAI XL will remember Webster City as one of our overnight towns that year, and we are excited to #RIDEWC once again. Hopefully it will be a bit cooler this time around.
If you’re like us, by the time you roll into Webster City you will be more than ready for your second breakfast. Webster City will not disappoint. Options include bacon burritos from the Rotary Club (with double applewood smoked bacon) (their motto is You’re Bacon Me Hungry!), horchata drinks, corn on the cob, kettle corn from Fire & Ice Delights, break fast pizza, and much much more.
If you don’t stop to eat, we would recommend you at least stop for a photo op. Webster City Community Theatre will be performing Spamalot this summer, and they will be showing off props from the set, including the giant trojan rabbit. We hear there also may be spam samples available. While the Theatre won’t be performing Spamalot the day of the ride, they will be playing the RAGBRAI XLII video, if you haven’t watched it this is your chance! Or if music is more your thing there will be a live DJ and two live bands.
Beyond that, there is lots to explore in Webster City for the history buff. The Kendall Young Library is a historical building with elaborate artistic work on the outside with marble interiors and mosaic décor. Or take a cruise by Wilson Brewer Park, a historic park with two log cabins, a railroad depot museum, an old country church, country school, and a courthouse. Speaking of historic homes, you might want to ride through the Wilson Avenue area, many homes here were built in the 1800s.
Famous Webster Citizens include two Pulitzer Prize winning authors, MacKinlay Kantor and Clark Mollenhoff.
Also of historic note – on June 24, 1888 the Ringling Brothers Circus was performing in Webster City. That evening, their strong man, James Richardson (AKA Monsieur Dialo) tried to break up a fight and was shot and killed. At the time Ringling Bros. vowed never to return again. Each Memorial Day, flowers mysteriously appear at Richardson’s grave.
Be sure to like Webster City RAGBRAI on Facebook or WebsterCityIowa.com to keep up with their ride plans, and be sure to tag your Webster City posts #RIDEWC. If you have an iPhone, visit flipgrid.com/#ridewc and let them know – What Moves You?
RAGBRAI has never passed through the Boondocks, so this is the chance for riders to stop in for some great food at their 24-hour diner. The will have plenty of wait staff onboard for their regular menu plus some specials including pulled pork and chicken dishes.
Local organizations will be helping selling bottled ice water that will fill numerous kiddie pools.
Be sure to walk around the Boondocks for the clever and humorous displays that have adorned the truck stop for years. The Boondocks will also have plenty of souvenirs in their shop.
Most people don’t know where Williams is, but some have heard of The Boondocks, a local truck stop/restaurant located about 2 miles West of Williams. Williams is a quiet community located near Interstate 35 in North Central Iowa. Another first-time town for RAGBRAI, the theme for Williams will be “Steer Into Williams for the Dashboard Lights”. T-shirts will be for sale for those who are interested.
If you are like us, you’ll be thirsty when you reach Williams, a beverage garden will be located on Main Street at Belle’s Wayside. After having a drink, take some time for some rest and relaxation at the local park in the center of town.
Can’t decide what to do? Looking for something in particular? An information station can be found in the Library located on Main Street. There you will find A/C, restrooms, Wi-Fi, computers for your internet needs, and postcards for sale. The North Central Iowa Car Club will be present on all 4 levels of the Hemken Car Museum located on Main Street. A U.S. flag will be available on Main Street next to the City Hall building for riders to sign and let the locals know where you are from. Take a ‘selfie’ with the “Welcome to Williams: Crossroads of Iowa” sign located on the West side of town.
Note: the Veteran’s Museum, also on Main Street, will present a small gift to any Veteran that stops by.
RAGBRAI has visited Alden 20 times but not since 1995. We are glad to be back, as this year they are hosting “Iowa’s Best Dam Party”! Alden is the meeting town for day three of RAGBRAI, and we took a break and had a huge lunch at the Westside Restaurant and Lounge by the Dam.
Lunch options available in Alden include Sweet Corn, Burritos, Fruit, Tender Tom’s Turkey, Whole Hog BBQ, and many local vendors – according to their website, ANY KIND OF FOOD YOU CAN IMAGINE!! Can’t ask for better than that.
Alden went all out in lining up great bands for our visit. Abby Normal, The Bearcat Pickers and The Ramblers will be playing throughout the day.
There is also lots of interesting historical sights to see in Alden. One of the most notable is the Library, as Alden is the smallest community in the U.S. to be endowed with an Andrew Carnegie Library, and it is still in operation today. It’s nickname is the Iowa River Jewel. You may also want to check out the Alden Lyceum, which was a huge entertainment hub in the early 1900s. Entertainers from all over the U.S. and foreign countries came to Alden to perform there, and it was known as the Athens of the West.
Famous people from Alden include Charlie Frisbee, a pro baseball player, and Gordon Jones, an actor known for his parts in The Rifleman, The Green Hornet, Abbot & Costello movies, John Wayne movies, the Son of Flubber, and Ozzie & Harriet. Jones has a star on the Vine St. Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The will be the first time hosting RAGBRAI for the tiny town of Buckeye. This town of 108 is the last stop on the route from Fort Dodge to Eldora (unless you are riding the Karras Loop)
The town of Buckeye is the smallest town on RAGBRAI and they plan on having big tractors, little tractors, old tractors, and antiques cars. The cars include a 1925 Model T, 1964 El Camino and possibly more Model T Fords and other vintage cars.
Buckeye plans to serve homemade pie, cookies, other home baked goodies and soft serve ice cream. They will also have lemonade and water. They will welcome other outside vendors.
The town will have a DJ to play music and he will be selling frozen fruit bars.
The 1924 brick Lutheran church in southeast corner of town will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the congregation August 9th, 2015. Although no longer a dealer there is an original International Harvester dealership building. There is also the FC CoOp grain elevator and feed mill operated by Maschoff Pork Co.
Buckeye also has a fully equipped fire department with EMT’s and ambulance. Be sure to check out the 10′ X 30′ stage curtain in the Community Building. It was hand painted and contains business advertising at the time.
The town’s well-equipped park recently added new playground equipment with donations and fundraisers.
The original road to Buckeye was named Highway 359 and ends at the end of Main Street. Although it is now county Highway D 68 we like the slogan “The end of the line on 359″.
The current City Hall/Fire Station was built by donations as a Community Center. The new Fire Station was built using mostly donations. Buckeye is now taking donations to do some remodeling to present City Hall/Fire Station. This is a very generous and caring community.
Radcliffe is a first-time town for RAGBRAI, and you can only get there via the Karras Loop. Pick up your loop patch at the park on Isabella Street in town.
You will more than likely be hungry after your first half of the loop, and Radcliffe will be ready for you. It’s All Good is an awesome little store that sells ice cream and homemade pie. Babe’s is the steakhouse in town, and will have some great food available, Benny’s Bar offers pizzas and appetizers, and the Fire Department and local grocery store will be serving food from the grill including hot dogs, burgers and pork sandwiches
After you’ve had your fill, check out the music will be in the park, play human-size foosball, and enjoy the water fights planned by the Fire Department. We thought the 12-foot tall Moose and Buffalo at Pearson Metal was pretty awesome too.
Some proceeds rom our visit will go to updates for the local American Legion Hall, used by the entire town for events throughout the year. Others will help fund the local fire department’s restoration of a 1941 Ford Fire Truck.
As we mentioned before we couldn’t be more impressed with Eldora, home of Pine Lake State Park. Though they may be small (2,732 residents) we assure you they are a Wheely Big Deal.
The main campgrounds and information center will be located at the South Hardin High School where you’ll find plenty of green space to camp. The school, churches and service organizations all over town will be serving up yummy dinners and of course, lots of PIE!
The hub of activity will be located in our historic downtown with 66 buildings that are listed on the National Register of HIstoric Places. Enjoy the new downtown streetscape that was dedicated in July 2012 with the center of attention being the most beautiful courthouse you’ll find in Iowa! Vendors, bike shops and beverage garden will be conveniently located in a 2 block square.
Eldora has lined up a Wheely Big Deal of a Ferris Wheel especially for RAGBRAI visitors. Overlooking the downtown events, you’ll want to take your camera with you when you take a spin up over the action!
As night falls, be ready to rock with RAGBRAI favorites, The Johnny Holm Band on the Main Stage beginning at 9:00 pm. The Johnny Holm Band is a widely traveled can-play-anything band based out of Minneapolis. Mostly impromptu, their show moves with the speed of lightning and changes direction as soon as “the pied piper” notices a lag. “Never a dull moment” was never a more true description. The band rocks, picks, and thunders along for 3-4 hours, almost non-stop from the first song to the last laugh. Millions of people have seen Johnny over the years, and millions of people have been part of his fantourage. Ask anyone with a twinkle in their eye or a knowing smile about Johnny. They’ll try and tell you all about the mayhem that masquerades as a rock and roll band.
If history is your thing, you won’t want to miss these attractions:
Hardin County Courthouse – 1215 Edgington Ave. 641-939-8138
Located on the town square, the courthouse features different architectural styles – brick & stone edifice common to Richardson Romanesque; corner turrets, hipped roof, cross gables and cut stone trimmings are Queen Anne. An alcove beneath the clock towers depicts Justice, Mercy, and Liberty. Civil War monument and cannon on Pioneer Plaza.
Historic Grand Theatre – 1148 Edgington Ave. 641-939-3522
Shows will begin at 10:00 a.m. with the last movie beginning at 7 p.m. The Grand Theatre has been in existence since 1913. Vaudeville acts, silent and “talkie” movies are a part of its gala past. The original neon marquee and canopy adorn the entrance to this community-owned and restored gem.
The Historical House – 1601 Washington St. 641-939-2094
Large Victorian home built in 1891 features many antique items and collectibles of historical significance from the Eldora and Hardin County area. A carriage house is located adjacent to the home. The Historical House is run by the Hardin County Historical Society.
Hardin County Farm Museum – 203 Washington St. 641-939-7107
Set of farm buildings and a one-room school located on a 12-acre site. Extensive collection of antique farm equipment and ag-related memorabilia.
CCC/POW building – 301 11th Avenue
Tour the Civilian Conservation Corps/Prisoner of War Recreational Hall & Museum to glimpse a bit of local history. The Recreational Hall is the only one left in the state of Iowa and possibly the United States. There are free and fun activities during the evening of RAGBRAI.
Chapel on the Hill – 235th St., South of high bridge of 1st. 641-858-5045 or 641-858-2434
Beautiful outdoor chapel for events, worship and meditation. Chapel includes a bell tower and statues of religious significance. Accommodates 100 and is a popular wedding venue, managed by Eldora Lions Club.
Family fun activities include:
Pine Lake State Park – 22620 County Highway S56. 641-858-5832
Pine Lake State Park provides a pleasing mix of woodland, river and lake in the midst of rolling farmland. The 654-acre park encompasses two lakes: 50-acre Lower Pine Lake and 69-acre Upper Pine Lake. Of special appeal to nature enthusiasts are the ancient white pine, the white-barked birch trees and the rare ferns found along the Iowa River. The pine-scented air of the campgrounds and picnic areas is a pleasing rarity in Iowa.
Eldora Aquatic Center – 709 14th Avenue. 641-939-3537.
Relax and catch some sun, spend the day swimming and riding the slides, or grab a bite to eat at the Eldora Aquatic Center. The Aquatic Center is full service with life guards, changing rooms, showers, concessions and many different activities for all different age levels.
Rock and Row Adventures Iowa River Tubing and Camping – Located at the south entrance to Pine Lake State Park, 23539 1 St. 641-858-5516
Call for reservations. Enjoy 8 miles of meandering scenic river and the beautiful Iowa River Greenbelt. Tube, canoe, kayak, Shuttle service. On-site camping, putt-putt golf, mud volleyball and more.
Pine Lake Produce – 22110 Highway S-56. (817) 874-0215
Pine Lake Produce provides seasonally fresh, locally-grown produce and locally-sourced honey, jams, and ice cream.
Pine Lake Country Club – 22502 County Hwy. S 56. 641-858-3031
Iowa’s most beautiful 9-hole golf course, PLCC meanders over rolling bluffs and is surrounded by Pine Lake State Park. Call for tee time reservations!
Sounds like a Wheely Big Deal!
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