Early-bird cyclists arrive in Fairfield
Early-bird RAGBRAI bicyclists appeared at Central Park and around the Fairfield square by 9 a.m. today.
“I left Osky at 6 a.m., so it’s about a three-hour ride,” said Mark Stanek of Ottumwa. “Today was the flattest route we’ve had.”
This is his second consecutive RAGBRAI ride. He graduated with a music education degree from Simpson College in May. He rides with Southern Iowa Cyclists team.
“The weather is a lot better this year,” he said. “I had a lot of fun last year, so I wanted to do it again.”
A member on his team knows a business owner in Fairfield. The team is camping on the business lot.
“We’re camping in tents,” he said. “I don’t know the business. It’s along the main route we rode into town.”
He said he got rained on camping overnight in Perry and again last night in Oskaloosa.
“Yesterday we rode across the dam at Red Rock outside of Pella,” said Stanek. “Two days before we rode across a really long bridge.”
He said the most interesting town was Dallas Center.
“Actually, I didn’t stop there, but I heard there was midget wrestling and cow pie bingo,” he said.
He is looking forward to the mustache world-record setting event in Fairfield this evening and he saw a sign about a community play performing this afternoon he might check out.
Bryce Matthew, 17, of Marquette was sitting at a picnic table in Central Park at 9:45 a.m. today drinking a pop.
“It’s my fifth RAGRBRAI,” he said.
The soon-to-be-senior in high school started riding RAGBRAI with his dad, he said.
“Now, my sister Carley and I ride,” he said. “Our mom drives our support car.”
Riding in RAGBRAI has become a summer tradition for him, Matthew said.
“And it’s fun. I’m the kind of rider that doesn’t stop at every town along the way,” he said. “I mean, look, I’m here in Fairfield at 9:30 in the morning.”
He said the highlight of RAGBRAI for him is finding Beekman’s ice cream along the way.
According to its website: “Beekman’s Homemade Ice Cream got started with Robert and Gloria Beekman, making ice cream for Weigert’s Prairie Farmstead outside of Palmer, and then Robert got ambitious and wanted to make some ice cream for the riders on RAGBRAI. He started out with one machine and a flat bed trailer.”
“They park just outside of overnight towns,” said Matthew.
He is camping in a tent with his family.
“I think we’re at the fairgrounds tonight,” he said. “We did stay in a hotel in Oskaloosa last night, which was a good night to have a hotel because it rained.”
Matthew said Thursday’s route had hills, but it wasn’t bad.
“The hills weren’t long, just constant,” he said.
He likes meeting the other riders along the way.
“I haven’t seen the banana bike guy this year,” Matthew said. “I have seen the guy who is running RAGBRAI and another guy is roller-blading the route. There are some riders using bikes pedaling with their arms.”
Looking around the square, he noted it looked like a circus theme. He said he might watch the Peru, Ind., circus performance in the afternoon; the youth were practicing this morning on Main Street.