Dispatches From Ground Zero: RAGBRAI (Evening)

When we learned that RAGBRAI, or “the REGISTER’s Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa, would go right through the home of SbB’s Senior Midwest Analyst, Adam J, we couldn’t help but force him to wander the engorged streets of Indianola, documenting the conquering masses and their Spandex, body odor, and beer. Welcome to the Alcoholic Tour de France… de Iowa.

(Video of this below, if you feel like watching thousands of drunken Iowans belting out some tunes.)

10:00 p.m. It’s a lovely night in Indianola. Part of that is the beer talking, of course, but hey, beer makes for a good night. The cover band, whose most notable characteristic is one of the singers:

RAGBRAI Singer Girl

…is on break, and now the thousands upon thousands of visitors are milling about the town square. Yes, Indianola has a “town square.” Hey, it’s a small town.

Speaking of small towns, there are an estimated 41,000 riders on this year’s RAGBRAI tour. That’s a lot in and of itself, but it’s especially remarkable for a state like Iowa; it’s essentially the 11th largest city in the state, but moving.

That means that the small host towns have to pull out all the stops to accomodate the sudden exponential growth in population, and usually in adorable small-town fashion:

RAGBRAI Spaghetti Dinner

RAGBRAI That Corn Looks Like A Dildo

There are other signs, of course, that Flyover Country is a little bit different from the metropolitan life. No, really, we mean it. Signs.

(But what am I supposed to think about the gays?)

RAGBRAI Challange
(Appropriately, they had the mentally “challanged” design this poster.)

Above all else, though, this whole thing is about the people, those 40,000 participants in such a silly event. While most of them are middle-aged and kind of fit, the type of people you see in urinary health or impotence pill advertisements, there were a host of characters out and about. And really, it’s nice to see people make such an event their own, often in ways that sobriety would generally prohibit.

RAGBRAI Marketing
(This is what they call “marketing.”)

RAGBRAI Molester Ice Cream
(Is that ice cream cone a… a pedophile? Get away from him, Susie!)

RAGBRAI Moustache Brigade

RAGBRAI Crazy Purple Guy


RAGBRAI Wizard of Oz


Interesting note on the last picture: After taking it, one of the ladies asks me, “Aren’t we the best-looking bats you’ve ever seen?” Well, my dear, yes you are, but considering the competition, that’s hardly an accomplishment. Still, um, thank you.

Unfortunately, the battery on the camera died soon afterward, and besides that, it’s a school night, y’know. 10:00 p.m. turns into 6:00 a.m. pretty quickly, so as debauched a night as I’m sure it was in the campgrounds, that’s a story and experience for another year. Let’s just ride out with a truly miserable exhibition of singing, the way it was meant to be.