Sunday, June 11, 2017

In Which the Weekend Features RAGBRAI Prep and Scouting

Antique Shop across the street from the Skinny Dip ice cream shop.

Lansing Iowa—boy you are far away. You’re not near anything in Iowa—you’re about as far north and east as it is possible to be and still be in Iowa.

And you’re home to just under 1,000 souls, which means when the 2017 RAGBRAI ends there, the town will be swamped. I’m a bit worried that it will be the Guttenberg nightmare all over again—an end town so isolated and small that it degenerates quickly into a mind-numbing traffic snarl.

That was one impression I had today as I drove to the tiny town to scout the end of RAGBRAI. Still, the news is not all bad. The town is not as much of a tourist town as its neighbor to the south, but it has a quaint ice cream shop cleverly named “The Skinny Dip,” which features rather nicely done small-town hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop treats.

It also has a pretty and scary “singing bridge” over the Mississippi (one though we had was that the bikers might cross the river and be picked up in Wisconsin, but today’s trip over the bridge quickly disavowed us of that notion). In case you don’t know, a singing bridge is one with an open metal latticework as the bridge deck, hence vehicles make a distinct humming sound as they cross it.

While in Lansing, we visited a local antique shop, where the animated proprietor gave Nathan some Mardi Gras coins from New Orleans, which was nice.

For a tiny town, Lansing actually seemed to hum with activity on an oppressively hot Sunday—it still has a Main Street business district that actually has businesses, many of which were open today.

Well, the end of RAGBRAI will pose some challenges. Team Joe will have to figure out some plans.

Anyway, besides a Sunday road trip related to RAGBRAI’s end, I also engaged in some pre-RAGBRAI bomb making. Monarch Butterflies lay eggs on only one kind of plant—the Milkweed. There are several species of this common plant, but that plant is in decline as modern farming and herbicides have reduced the number of Milkweed plants available to serve as Monarch nurseries.

So a group that works to aid the Monarch each RAGBRAI provides riders with clay balls intended for bombing ditches across Iowa. The balls each have a few Milkweed seeds inside.

And Saturday, my wife and I met a daughter and her children at the Marion, Iowa, Farmers Market, where we spent some time at a booth making the clay Milkweed bombs. I only worked on one tray, and I’m sure there will be thousands of others, but it will be cool if by chance I end up dropping one of my own bombs this RAGBRAI.

The Milkweed bombs we created Saturday, Each clay ball has some Milkweed seeds embedded.
So, RAGBRAI riders, pay some heed to the nature of this year’s end town. It will be a challenge. And pick up some Milkweed bombs and toss them each day during RAGBRAI. Maybe you’ll drop one that CR Biker helped make.

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