As you may have already heard, this was one of the best RAGBRAI days ever – or so I’m told. Forty miles. Flat and easy terrain. Gorgeous weather. Very pleasant pass-through towns. And I needed it because I was still recovering from the hell that was Day 3 (80 miles, hot humid windy etc.).
We started with coffee and excellent coffee cake at Cabin Coffee in Forest City – where we were very impressed with the efficiency of the women working there, who were not frazzled by the endless line of caffeine-deprived Ragbrai riders.
In Clear Lake, we joined a huge crowd at the Surf Ballroom which was open for all to enjoy and a huge treat. I’d never made it past the lobby and was blown away by the retro dance floor and bar full of rock n’roll memorabilia, even the backstage room with all the famous performer’s autographs scrawled on the walls. Way way cool! Would love to see a concert there sometime! (It’s famous for hosting the last concert by Buddy Holly who died in a plane crash soon after with the Big Bopper and RitchieVallens.)
We also enjoyed the festivities and food in Clear Lake (fabulous french toast!) and hanging out in the large grassy park downtown overlooking the lake. En route to Mason City, I had a nice chat while cycling with NPR (No Pie Refused/National Public Radio) reporter Don Gonyea. (We talked suburban Detroit, where we’re both from.)
In Mason City, we were a bit bummed not to be able to go into the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel, Inn on the Park, but understand the concerns about the recently and meticulously renovated place being overrun by thousands of cyclists. There was a line for tours when we arrived at 4 or so but by 5 or so there were no more tours. We did have a drink in the former bank part of the hotel but even then we were banned from the rest of the hotel (even my British friends who likely won’t be be anytime soon). Oh well.
We had pork tenderloins at Suzy Q’s – a bit heavy, as always, but great ambiance. One of those old proletarian trailers with a counter and grill and little else. The Brits did sign their name in marker on one of the wall tiles! We thoroughly enjoyed a turtle sunday at the wonderful old Birdsall’s ice Cream shop, sitting at the counter on swivel stools.