Mason City RAGBRAI Committee, thank you for welcoming us to your town! In just 48 days we’ll be back for the Best Hump Day Ever! 

We headed out of Mason City with about 40 riders for our fifth day of the RAGBRAI XLII Route Inspection ride. After breakfast in Nora Springs we were on our way through the gently rolling hills of North central Iowa. Though the weather was sunny and the temperatures were ideal (in the mid-70s) we had the wind in our faces all day so it was a slow ride. Which made it all the better when we were welcomed to Waverly with music, ice cream and a police escort to our hotel. 

Follow the pre-ride team along the route all week with Twitter updates and pictures at

The cities we visited on Day Five of our ride were Mason City, Nora Springs, Rockford, Marble Rock, Greene (meeting town),  Packard, Clarksville and Waverly. We rode 63.1 miles, and had 1,743 feet of climb including a few hills that actually felt like hills. 

Nora Springs will be the first town that riders roll into after departing Mason City.  This will be the second time that RAGBRAI visits Nora Springs with the last visit taking place in 2002.  Riders will get to cross over the Shell Rock River twice, entering and departing the town of 1,431.

The town was originally named Woodstock.  Some early pioneers could not agree on a name as one wanted the named changed to “Elnora” and the other liked the name “Springs”.  They compromised and changed the town’s name from Wood stock to Nora Springs.

One of the unique things about Nora Springs is a huge boulder that is the focal point of Boulder Park.  The legend is that Wa-we-ta, a Native American maiden fell in love with Red-Feather, a brave from a neighboring tribe.  Her father, Chief Moon-Face, did not approve of the relationship and arranged a marriage within her tribe.  The night she was to marry, she went to the big rock believing it had mystical powers.  She prayed to the rock, to no response.  She laid down exhausted and fell asleep.  The next morning she was found cold and lifeless as the rock.  The braves noticed that the stone had developed a crack and said the stone felt sorry for the maiden and had a broken heart just as the maiden did.

Other neat places to see are the Gaylord Mansion, the railroad viaduct stone arch bridge and the Mill Pond area, with a new playground.

One of the town’s most famous citizen’s was Yodelin’ Tommy Floyd (Huffstettler). Tommy appeared on the Johnny Carson show, performed for four Presidents and performed several times at the Grand Ole Opry. 

The aquatic center is currently raising funds to replace the current pool.

Keep up with Nora Springs’ RAGBRAI Plans on Facebook!

After Nora Springs, we’ll head on in to Rockford. Home of the Devonian Fossil, Rockford was first settled in 1856 and named after Rockford Illinois.  The Devonian is a geological period and system of the Paleozoic Era around 400 million years ago. 

The Rockford Fossil Beds are located just west on the route in to town in the Fossil and Prairie Park.  Within the park are remains of an ancient ocean, and you can collect fossils within the park. 

The history of Rockford is held in the 1879 railroad Depot, housing railroad memorabilia and items from the Brick and Tile plant that closed in 1977.  The Brick and Tile plant was in operation from 1910-1977.  The Rockford Museum features earlier Rockford businesses including doctors, dentists and veterinarians.

Fans of romantic novels – famous citizens from Rockford include Robert James Waller, author of Bridges of Madison County.

After your stop in Rockford, you’ll visit your second “rock town” of the day, Marble Rock. This will be our first time visiting Marble Rock, and we think you’ll have a good time. All of the food vendors will be lined up in the shade of City Park – you’ll be able to choose from ribs, chicken breast, pie, chocolate chip cookies (we sampled these, and they are delicious!), bananas, energy bars and more. There will also be a beer garden. Most importantly, all proceeds from ALL food and beverage sales will be split among the vendors, who are all not for profit.

There will also be a 1950s display in the park, complete with an antique pickup truck and photo ops. It will be easy to stay in the park for some time, but we suggest you eventually head downtown. Marble City is a small town packed with history, and all museums will be open to the public free of charge and air conditioned. If you cruise down Bradford Street, you will see five restored buildings that now serve as pieces of the Marble Rock Historical Society’s exhibit. Two of our favorites are the Jacob Beelar Log House from 1851 (accidentally preserved because siding was added over the logs and it appeared to be a conventional house) and Baltimore Tavern circa 1853, a popular stopping place for those travelling to the mill in Cedar Falls.

As you can see, residents have been very meticulous in recording their past and preserving historic buildings. However they have also been careful to record the lighter side of their past, including tales of John Ludwig and DeGraw (Outhouse) Bear. Ludwig was an “intelligent inquisitive aviator” and also the first man to wear shorts in Marble Rock. Outhouse Bear was aptly named, as he was famous for his powerful formula for disposing of the contents of outhouses. Despite multiple attempts to get Outhouse to reveal his secret formula, he took the secret to his grave.

Greene will be the meeting town for Thursday’s ride from Mason City to Waverly.  This will be the third visit to the community with others stops being RAGBRAI XXVII and XIII.  They are one of a handful of small towns that have actually gained population at the 2010 census.

One of the lasting gifts to the community for recreational purposes was the gift of land by Jeremiah Perrin for a park. The park was to be known as “J. Perrin Park” and has commonly been known as “Perrin Park” over the years. The City accepted the land in September 1902. 

There have been various improvements to the park facility, which abuts the Shell Rock River along its entire southwest side. For many years it was the main swimming area for the children of Greene, and was also used for picnic purposes. The bandstand in the park was built in the early 1930′s. It was renovated as part of the current park improvements, and is being used for both picnics and as a bandstand. The north restrooms have been refurbished. 

The many food vendors for RAGBRAI will be located in the shady Perrin Park.  Riders can lounge along the riverside park while eating and being entertained.  There will also be a beverage garden in the park.

Some of the interesting places in Greene include the Church of the Bretheren, a 141 year old stone church.  Dralle’s Department Store has been a family owned store in town, owned by the same family for 118 years!

Greene has quite a few famous citizens including Thomas Braden (author of Eight is Enough) and Frank Jackson, Iowa’s 15th Governor.

The floods of 2008 destroyed the town’s community center and affected almost every business and several 100 homes.  With the help of FEMA, Greene built a new community center/city hall and tornado safe room.

The town is currently raising funds for an all-weather track at the North Butler High School.

You won’t want to wait for the last train before you head to Clarksville. They will be our last town en route to Waverly, and Clarksville residents aim to please! But you probably won’t hear too much of the Monkees song next month. City clerk Larry Betts blasted that song from the roof of city hall the last time RAGBRAI rolled through, but he may not again.

“I got too much of the Monkees that day,” he said. If you’re hungry, stop by Pete & Shorty’s, which inspired the Hooters restaurant chain. “It’s kind of like the family version of that restaurant, if you know what I mean,” Betts said.

Those of you who rode in 2010 may also remember all the delicious food, cold drinks and live music/entertainment they had ready for us. This year will be even better, they’ve lined up plenty of restrooms, cold drinks, shaded tables to take a break and eat at, a wide variety of food from local groups and businesses (everything from cold fruit to steak sandwiches, homemade spaghetti to cold drinks, and homemade pie!), and of course, a beer garden. 

If you’re more in the mood for visiting a local establishments, try the aforementioned Pete & Shorty’s tavern, Doc’s Restaurant and lounge, and/or Sweet Trees ice cream parlor near the bike trail.

We can’t encourage off-route riding. But if you were of a mind to wander, Clarksville is the midpoint of Rolling Prairie Bike trail, a 14 mile paved trail. Or the 400 acre Heery Woods State Park on the south edge of town might make a beautiful, shady detour.

Sidenote – Clarksville schools have a great Girl’s Golf and Track & Field team this year. If you see any Clarksville High School athletes out practicing, give them a cheer! Be sure to follow Clarksville on Facebook here:

After Clarksville, you’ll enter a world of medieval knights and castles! Entertainment will abound in Waverly’s scenic downtown along the Cedar River.  With many choices of entertainment, family activities and a variety of craft beers, you can’t help but go all Knight! 

Waverly is a beautiful community of nearly 10,000.  It’s a place where residents enjoy a high quality of life, friendly and progressive merchants, and a college town atmosphere.  Waverly’s central business district spans the Cedar River, with a downtown that’s been designated as a Main Street Iowa District.

Featured acts for the main stage include Arch Allies playing cover songs from Styx, Journey and REO Speedwagon.  Other entertainment includes Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maize playing a mix of Latin/Jazz/Merengue, and Crossed, a Christian rock band.

Within Kohlman Park you’ll find acts appearing on the amphitheater stage – Dean of Juggling, The Magic and Illusions of Eric Michaels, Greater Waverly Municipal Band, and local student talent.  Inflatables featuring jousting, twister and a bouncy house will be available, as well as kid activities including face painting, spin art, a Museum walk, chalk the walk, found object (a visual art project), and zoo animals.

Movies will be showing in the Middle School and High School auditoriums.

Wartburg College will serve as the main campground, with other camping at the Waverly Sale Barn, the Middle School, and the High School.

Here is a link to the Waverly RAGBRAI website for additional information on your overnight stay in Waverly.

Mason City Mason City (2) Mason City Team Photo Nora Springs Rockford Marble Rock Greene Greene (2) Packard Clarksville Waverly (2) Waverly