Wow we can’t wait to throw back to last Thursday, Hiawatha RAGBRAI Committee, we had so much fun and it was really nice to roll into dinner at the Fire House as soon as we got to town. After five days of biking, we were HUNGRY! We left Hiawatha this morning with a group of about 35 people. The first 20 miles were challenging as we had a strong headwind, but after breakfast in Whittier, then turning south very soon after, we had a great day. The terrain on day six of RAGBRAI is mostly long, rolling hills, with a more forested landscape than previous days of the ride. The hills got much steeper from Solon, through the Coralville Dam and on to Coralville – take it from us, you will want to do some major hill training before you come on the ride. Once we arrived in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing, we were treated like stars, with a reception, cocktail hour, and dinner, all in the Landing. The cities we visited today were Hiawatha, Whittier, Springville, Mount Vernon (meeting town), Lisbon, Sutliff Cider, Solon, Coralville Dam, and Coralville. We rode 62.6 miles, and had 2,600 feet of climb.
Whittier is the small unincorporated town that will be the first stop leaving Hiawatha for Coralville. This will be the third time hosting RAGBRAI with the last during RAGBRAI XXXXII.
The Whittier Market will be the center of it all with “the Best Cinnamon Rolls in Iowa”, fresh made kolaches, cheese curds from Homeland Dairy in Waukon. They will also have meat products from the Edgewood Locker including beef sticks.
Across the street from the Whittier Market is the Friends Meeting Worship Hall. It is a Quaker place of worship that welcomes all at 10:30am for quiet reflection.
Whittier will be a great first stop for RAGBRAI as they depart for Coralville.
Springville is a town of 1,074 residents that is hosting RAGBRAI for their fifth time. They will have plenty of vendors spread out through the downtown. The last time RAGBRAI visited, they had music, games and a local school dance team performance.
Look for a wide variety of food. The bars in town will be ready to welcome guests.
Be sure to stop in Shelly’s, known for their famous tenderloins.
Springville boasts three local parks for the riders to get out of the sun and relax in. Enjoy your stay in Springville before moving on.
Mount Vernon (meeting town)
Mount Vernon is a shady, historic college town, home to Cornell College. Back in 2009 it was named one of America’s Coolest Small Towns by Budget Travel Magazine, and we think this is still true today. The day we ride through (Friday) will also be college spirit day, and they will be hosting school-related photo-ops, as well as a ’60s feel to go with their Live, Love, Ride theme. Mt. Vernon is located on a hill called a “paha,” hence the name of the town. It is inches short of being the highest point in Linn County, and indeed we will climb in and roll out of town. Riders who remember coming through Mt. Vernon last time will notice we are traveling through the city “backward” compared to that route.
Food vendors will begin in the Cornell College area and extend all the way through the Commercial District (which is a National Historic District). In front of Cornell on 1st street, they will be serving bloody Mary’s, breakfast in a waffle cone, and other food. Their food is known for being hand made and locally sourced. Beyond that, there will be 25 vendors (some food, some non-food), and a beverage garden uptown. Food vendors will be serving a variety of items including traditional favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers, steak sandwiches, and more. Local churches will also be serving food, including pie and rhubarb brats.
Mt. Vernon will have all sorts of things to do, including a petting zoo (with camel!), a photo-op with cutouts of Sgt. Pepper/Beatles, Kiss, a body builder and more, local bands in three locations throughout the town, a DJ, and a minute-to-win-it type game. A local artist will be creating a large sculpture for our visit, last time we visited he made a dragon fly out of bike parts. Bars in Mt. Vernon include the newly rebuilt Scorz Bar and Grill, Chameleon’s Bar and Grill, and the Palisades Cafe. If you prefer wine to beer, try the Lincoln Wine Bar. They not only have wine but brick oven pizza (the brick oven was imported directly from Italy).
While you’re in Mt. Vernon you can check out their walking scale of the solar system, take an audio our of the historic district, tour the Cornell College campus, and tour the downtown. If you would like to check out some of their National Historic Districts, visit the Commercial District, Cornell College (entire campus is an historic district), and the Ash Park District (lots of cool Victorian homes). One interesting historic fact is that the Cornell English Department lost a shipment of books on the Titanic.
Famous citizens of Mt. Vernon include Representative Dave Loebsack, Edward Shankland (Chief Engineer of the Chicago World’s Fair), and Edgar J. Helms (founder of Goodwill Industries).
To keep up with Mt. Vernon’s RAGBRAI plans, visit their Facebook page here: http://ift.tt/1T2BYzR
The town of Lisbon has hosted RAGBRAI twice before with the last stop coming in 2008. The town of 2,152 is adjacent to Mount Vernon to the west. We enjoyed meeting with the mayor, Beryl O’ Connor.
Lisbon will have food vendors along their downtown streets including Three Bling Pigs, Paul Revere Pizza, Mott’s Sweet Corn and Americana Concessions with their giant tenderloins and corn dogs.
Bill’s Tap will be serving Ribeye Steak Sandwiches as well as a full bar.
Mount Vernon and Lisbon will go in together to market a few t-shirts. Both the “Live, Love, Ride” t—shirts and the Cow-a-bika Beach Party shirts will be on sale.
Upon leaving Lisbon, you won’t travel far before reaching Sutliff Cider. Look to your right after a long downhill, and you will find friendly folks ready to serve you some of the best hard cider you’ve ever tasted. Containing 6% alcohol, this cider is more like a dry wine (think Riesling) than it is sweet.
There will be lots to eat and drink at Sutliff Cider, but the highlight of this stop is the Sutliff Cider on tap, available inside and outside at several portable stands. Food vendors onsite include an outdoor pizza oven, BBQ, and a 50s Diner type vendor. FYI there will also be several porta-pots on site for your convenience. There are lots of shady trees in front, plus a large tent out back. While you’re eating and drinking, you will be entertained by local bands, starting at 11:00
Solon has been around for a long time – since 1880 – but they still find ways to rejuvenate their town, making it a local travel destination. In 2012 Solon Leaders completed a MAJOR Main Street Enhancement project, including new and enhanced restaurants El Sol Mexican Cuisine, Big Grove Brewery (which we visited, tasty!!), Salt Fork Kitchen (made-from-scratch, locally sourced food) and the Red Vespa Pizzeria (wood fired Neapolitan pizza, just opened!). Solon also has a really great school district and school sports teams, making them a great place to live for those working in Cedar Rapids, Coralville/Iowa City, North Liberty, and the surrounding area.
Solon is known for Beef Days, which take place the week before RAGBRAI, this year June 17th and 18th (always the 3rd weekend in July) when they attract over 10,000 visitors and serve steaks.
The Palmer House Stable was also just revitalized in 2013, they are hoping to host RAGBRAI weddings this year on the ride as it is a beautiful renovated stable. If you are already married or just not ready to take the plunge, there will be photo ops available too. You may also want to check out the Round Barn located at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area which we will ride by on our way out of town. It is also known as the TIMBERDOME Lodge.
We had a big lunch in Solon and we suggest you do the same, as many of their vendors’ profits will go to great charities. The American Legion will have a beer tent on Main Street with $2 draft beers, a country band and fresh grilled food. Inside, the Legion will have A/C, clean rest rooms, liquor by the drink. Proceeds from the American Legion’s sales will go to redoing the front of their old building, including a new awning, sign, front door and windows.
If pie and cold drinks are what you’re looking for, stop by the girl’s softball/boy’s baseball booth at the corner of Main and Dubuque. We sampled their pie (FRESH rhubarb and strawberry pies disappeared as soon as we arrived), fresh lemonade and iced tea. Proceeds from their booth will go toward the teams’ expenses.
If you stop in at the Palmer House Stable, you can purchase water, pulled pork dinners, and sweet corn to benefit the Rough Riders Junior Hockey Team, and to benefit “Black Canaries,” a film directed and produced in Iowa by Lanterna Films’ Jess Kreitzer.
Buck Creek Hops is a new 100-acre local hops farm near Solon. They will be on hand with hop-brownies, yes you read that right, yes they are very good, so that you can get a taste of the character of their hops. Buck Creek Hops will produce approximately 70,000 pounds of hops for local and nationwide craft brewers next year.
Many of the proceeds from our visit will go toward a cause called Mary’s Meals. The “Corridor Cares of Solon, Iowa” will gather funds to feed the school children of Chisenjere, Malawi, a city comparable in size to Solon. Their goal is to feed every child there for the duration of the school year at their place of education. They are close to their goal, but will use proceeds from sales to hopefully meet it.
Coralville Lake and Dam
Coralville Lake is an artificial lake formed by the Coralville Dam, a 1949 built dam on the several miles upstream from the city of Coralville. The primary benefits are flood control and low flow augmentation, and secondary benefits in recreation, fish and wildlife management, and forest management. Coralville Lake provides many recreational opportunities. Activities include boating, swimming, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, disc golf, bird watching, Devonian Fossil Gorge and camping. Campgrounds at Coralville Lake include three campgrounds with just over 500 campsites. The campsite types range from primitive tent to full hook-ups with water, sewer and electricity at the sites. Campgrounds are located at Sandy Beach, Sugar Bottom and the Dam Complex (Cottonwood, Linder Point, Tailwater East, Tailwater West and West Overlook).
After widespread flooding in the US during the early 1930s, Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1938. The United States Army Corps of Engineers built the 100-foot-high earthen dam primarily as a flood control project for the Mississippi River. Construction started in 1949, was delayed by the Korean War, and finished in 1958.
The lake has a capacity of 461,200 acre·ft of water, equal to 137.18 billion gallons at its “100 year flood” level of 712-feet.
If there’s one thing the route from Hiawatha to Coralville will show you – it’s that Iowa is not so flat after all. Not that you didn’t feel it from the start, climbing over 4,000 feet on the first day out. The hills start to come alive on Day 6 heading into Springville, culminating in some steep climbs on Sugar Bottom Road and surrounding the Coralville Lake and Dam. If you are really ambitious, there is a really cool mountain biking trail located off of Sugar Bottom Road.
Coralville is a booming city that used to be considered a suburb of Iowa City, but has long since come into its own as a unique town. Much of this was fueled by the construction of the Coral Ridge Mall way back in 1998 (the mall draws over 10 million visitors each year). But the mall is only a tiny piece of what Coralville is. Since then they have added miles of bike paths, a large dog park with walking bridge (find the start of the bridge just behind the Iowa River Power Company on 1st Avenue), and of course the Iowa River Landing.
The Iowa River Landing is the latest and greatest of Coralville’s developments and they are looking forward to rolling out the red carpet to welcome you there. This is where most of the RAGBRAI XLIII festivities will be focused. There will literally be a red carpet that you can bike down, and “celebrity” sightings. And of course there are lots of new restaurants, bars and even a brewery there, including Backpocket Brewing, Edgewater Grille and River Bar (in the Marriott), Konomi Grill (we visited here and it was so tasty, and there are large portions!), Scratch Cupcakery, Vesta (Mediterranean inspired food), Waterstreet Coffee Bar, Winestyles Tasting Station, and 30Hop, a new bar (we tried out the roof top patio, recommended!). There is also lots of shopping to be done in the River Landing, including a large Von Maur department store, True Style Boutique, and Brides by Jessa. For more on what the Iowa River Landing has to offer, click here: http://ift.tt/1FDKsDk
Of course there are lots more restaurants and bars farther into Coralville including the brand new Winan’s Chocolates, the aforementioned (and locally famous) Iowa River Power Company (Iowa-style fine dining), the Wig & Pen Pub (known for their awesome pizza and for straddling the Iowa City/Coralville town lines), The Vine Tavern (also have great food, try the wings, and a house beer). There will also be a selection of vendors near Northwest Jr. High School, which will be by the campgrounds.
After dinner, we will be looking forward to rocking and rolling with Coralville’s awesome musical acts:
CHEAP TRICK may be one of the most covered bands of all time. Since the 70s they’ve been blending elements of pop, punk and even metal in a way that is instantly catchy and recognizable. With timeless classics such as “I Want You to Want Me,” “Surrender,” and “The Flame,” CHEAP TRICK are a musical institution. Anyone familiar with Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report will note that CHEAP TRICK wrote and performed the theme song.
With more than 5,000 performances, 20 million records sold, 29 movie soundtracks and 40 gold and platinum recording awards, the band was honored in October 2007 by the Chicago Chapter of National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences for their contributions to the music industry.
Slap’n’Tickle is a tribute to 80’s metal, playing everything from Motley Crue to Whitesnake to Kiss and put on the full 80’s stage show. The group was formed in 2010 in Cedar Rapids, although members are all from Los Angeles and all went to Cedar Rapids on vacation at the same time. They came together with one goal in mind…to put on the best show possible. With their bombastic rhythm section, their blazing guitar solos, and their soaring vocals, a Slap’n’Tickle show is truly something to behold…a party like no other!
For the past decade Gimikk has been rockin’ out in Des Moines and the surrounding area, earning its reputation as “The Best Party Band in Des Moines.” With the group’s high energy performance and amazing musical skills, topped off by the entertaining and charismatic persona of lead singer James Brinker, Gimikk is sure to deliver a show unrivaled by any other local act.
The Swing Crew
The Swing Crew will be our after-party entertainment. You’ll want to stick around after the Cheap Trick show to see them – fun is the bottom line with this interactive, acoustic band. The shows feature a wide variety of music, audience participation, jokes, stunts, cornball humor and toasts. The Swing Crew plays classic rock, country, pop, swing, “island beat” and just about any other genre you could possibly come up with.
Visit http://ift.tt/1FDKsDl for the full entertainment schedule. To keep up with Coralville’s RAGBRAI plans, visit their website, http://ift.tt/1Bbuql0, follow them on Facebook: http://ift.tt/1zUQnRK or on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ragbraicville
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