Thousands Visit Hancock County on RAGBRAI XLV

Riders head north on State Street at Garner.

Rebecca Peter| The Leader

Garner Rotary Club served pie to hungry throngs of RAGBRAI bikers.

Line up of bikes along Central Park, Garner, as riders continued to pour into town throughout the afternoon.

GARNER - Well…it was quite a day.

The population of Hancock County tripled on Tuesday, July 25, when the Register’s Annual Bike Ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI XLV) rolled through. RAGBRAI XLV was July 23-29.

An estimated 20,000 riders journeyed across Iowa last week. Overnight host communities were Orange City, Spencer, Algona, Clear Lake, Charles City, Cresco, Waukon and Lansing.

Even though headwinds challenged some riders along the route earlier on Tuesday, the sunshine plus temperatures in the 80s made for a nearly ideal Day 3 of the ride (Algona to Clear Lake).

The town of Garner was a designated “meeting town” for riders to catch up with each other and relax for a bit before hitting the road again to go to Clear Lake for the night.

RAGBRAI – It's a family thing

Ed Movic, a semi retired dentist from New Castle, Pa. was on his 13th RAGBRAI.

“It is a week of fun, the food, the people, the music, the riding … it’s beautiful, Movic stated.

Movic was riding with his sister, Mary, from Chicago.

 “It's wonderful here,” Mary said. “I work for an airline and I can go anywhere, but I want to come here on RAGBRAI. The people and towns are great.”

Cindy Riley and Karen Parrott of Coralville said RAGBRAI is a family event. This was Cindy’s 27th ride.

“We started when we were kids,” she said. “Then we had our own kids, and we brought our kids back. We look forward to riding with the grandchildren.”

Team Flamingo

Steve Onken, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa, and Nate Nims, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Waterloo, were members of Team Flamingo. Both are veteran RAGBRAI riders.

Team Flamingo has been going since 1983. Team riders distinguish themselves by wearing pink and feather boas.

 “There are about 20 of us on the team this year,” said Nims. “It's just fun. It’s stopping in places like this to have a piece of pie…meet the locals and have your picture taken with Elvis.”

Steve Onken said RAGBRAI was an opportunity to reconnect with family members in Northwest Iowa on Day 1 and Day 2 of the ride.

“It’s been windy today, but it's a shorter ride so we’re handling it,” he said.

Frank Urban is a University of Miami professor.

“This is my fifth RAGBRAI, so I should know better,” he joked. “It’s a totally unique thing. It’s a lot of exercise…interesting people…strange and wonderful food and costumes. The man I was just talking to is from Columbia and lives in Chicago. Everyone’s talkative. It’s a wonderful experience. You should do it.”

Disability doesn't stop rider

Not everyone on RAGBRAI was on a two-wheeled bicycle. Erik Kondo of Lexington, Mass., has been participating in RAGBRAI since 1999. Erik has a disability and uses a wheelchair.

“I usually do [RAGBRAI] in my handcycle, Kondo said, “but this year I thought I’d change it up and do it with my longboard from my wheelchair.”

Read the complete story and more RAGBRAI XLV coverage in the Aug. 2 Leader.