The route travels 60.1 miles as we climb 2,483 feet. RAGBRAIers will visit Decorah during the 51st annual Nordic Fest, which celebrates their Norwegian heritage. We’ll ride through Decorah for the first time since 1999 and we’ll ride past one of Iowa’s top breweries in Toppling Goliath. RAGBRAI will then make a return visit to the town of Ossian before travel to Castalia and Postville for the first time before making their way into Waukon. Friday is College Spirit Day where we encourage you to proud wear your school’s jersey or apparel.
This day was a falshback for me. We left Cresco for Decorah, home of Lee and my beloved alma mater, Luther College. Of course we had to stop and tour the college and pick up a few items from the bookstore before heading into downtown Decorah which also happened to be hosting the Nordic Fest. We decided to bypass the crowds and ate breakfast in Ruby’s Restaurant. The place was packed and Luke, Lee and I waiting for seating along with a single rider in his early 60’s. The hostess had a table for four available and asked if the four of us would like to sit together. We agreed and had the best conversation with a high-level former NASA engineer and Iranian immigrant who lead the development of NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) during the Clinton Administration. He currently is working on top secret projects for the government and is a professor of engineering at the Univeristy of Maryland. The conversations were fascinating and it was immensely satisfying to watch Lukas and our new guest engage in very intelligent (albeit it over my head) engineering conversation. All I have to say is:
After breakfast we hit the road and road through Ossian (my boyhood home), Castalia, Postville (home of a large orthodox Jewish community) and then Waukon, the last home of my mother prior to her untimely death about 20 years ago and where she was buried.
Waukon was an absolute BLAST! Noah found a great site (once again) parked along the East Elementary School and we were within a short walking distance to the downtown. That night, we witnessed Hairball. This band was a true event that brought back great memories of the big hair eighties rock bands! My ears rang for two days after the concert as Lee and I, unwisely perhaps, decided the best location was to be 3 rows back. There were well over 15,000 people packed in the street watching this and although I have been to four rides previously, it was the first time I really had any idea of the magnitude of the Ragbrai. Very impressive indeed!