Keep cycling on

BY TYLER FINCHUM | JULY 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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Tyler Finchum, a staffer at The Daily Iowan, will write about his first RAGBRAI experience for the rest of the week. This third installment recaps his fourth day on the road.

Wednesday’s RAGBRAI trip was a breeze. At a measly 38.5 miles, it gave everyone a chance to take it easy for the day and see the sights.

Unfortunately, while riding there isn’t a whole lot to see — cornfields lose their charm after the first couple miles. So the towns in between the cornfields is where the excitement really happens.

There are typically two or three town stops each day. These cities are a great place to rest, eat, meet up with your lost companions, and explore classic small-town Iowa.

You know you are approaching a town by the children and families who wave at you from their lawn chairs welcoming you.

Many are happy to see the mass influx of hungry and money-wielding bikers converge on their town, some because the sale of pies, smoothies, and church meals provides a much-needed influx of money into the community.

The try-hard bikers will usually try to skip the towns all together and take secondary roads that bypasses the main squares. However, I feel this really detracts from the one of the best parts of RAGBRAI.

As you approach the main square, you are eventually forced to dismount your bike because of the mass of cyclists who have converged on the town. Some of these towns grow 20-fold when RAGBRAI passes through.

The first thing you see once you reach the main square are the bikes. There are bikes everywhere — propped against buildings, fences, tractors — just everywhere. Some of these bikes are easily worth upwards of $10,000, and no one uses bike locks.

There is a plethora of things to do in any of the towns.

Basically, every line whether it is for food or a kybo (RAGBRAI speak for port-a-potty), or bike repair is at least 10 minutes long.

If you get there early enough, pie is a RAGBRAI favorite, but it sells out fast. There are often beer gardens in which riders can enjoy relaxing drinks.

 Each town has its little charms and history. We biked through the town in which Hawkeye wrestling coaches Tom and Terry Brands grew up (Sheldon) and saw the last place Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper performed before their infamous plane crash (Clear Lake).

If you are willing to spend a little time exploring and talking to the locals, you can find out just what it is.

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