Cedar Rapids to Anamosa
Total miles: 42.2 miles
We can see the end from here.
After several days of unforgiving riding conditions, Thursday proved to be a gift – high about 90 degrees (still hot, but not 106!), a bit overcast and a tailwind. That’s what we call a RAGBRAI trifecta.
We’ll get back to the bicycle ride momentarily, but could we just stop and once again thank the wonderful, generous, patient people who have served as our hosts this week? They have all gone far beyond the call of duty.
Our hosts on Thursday were Mark Jensen ’89 and Michelle Nierling Jensen ’91 and Katie, their 10-year-old daughter and future Simpson student. Katie made us these great one-of-a-kind Simpson College pens decorated with red and gold duct tape.
Many members of Team Simpson took a running jump off a 12-foot-high wall into the awaiting pool below. And all survived!
The pool takes up most of the back yard, so Michelle rallied the neighborhood and found enough homes willing to take in everyone who wanted to sleep inside. Ah, air conditioning! A few purists still opted to sleep outside in the pleasant 60-degree temperatures, but we were all grateful to have the indoor option available.
Mark served us two of his very tasty home brews, which was also a pleasant surprise.
Now back to the ride.
John began riding in the mid ‘80s and has ridden RAGBRAI off and on since then. He said this year’s early days were simply brutal. He said he had never even been outside in 106-degree heat, much less ridden a bicycle in those conditions. He said riders are looking forward to today’s much-shorter leg.
John has a solar-powered stereo on the back of his bike that cranks out some great tunes along the route, entertaining not only himself but also others around him who appreciate the extra boost. Some even call him the Pied Piper of the ride because other cyclists tend to follow in the wake of his music.
Let’s meet some other members of Team Simpson:
*Matt Olson ’09 works at Wells Fargo Mortgage in Des Moines, as a consumer loan underwriter. He is currently working with a joint venture between Wells Fargo and USAA (Military Family Home Loans). Matt’s fondest memories of the three RAGBRAIs he has completed with Team Simpson are when the sprinklers came on at Morningside College in Sioux City in the middle of the night; the team Jell-O shots in Grinnell; and seeing all of our bikes lining the church pews in Manchester. Matt plans to run the Chicago Marathon in October, which is another item on his bucket list.
*Wendy Foughty Vasquez ’88 lives in Chicago and will be riding on Team Simpson for the first time, along with her husband Vince. She is far from a RAGBRAI newbie as she has participated in the ride for 17 years! Her advice to new riders is to stop along the way to enjoy all the things that make RAGBRAI unique. An extra 15 minutes on the route to watch a junior high jazz band will surely be worth the time. When not enjoying coming back to Iowa to ride her bike, Wendy enjoys watching her son play baseball and her daughter dance. She has also been caught prowling antique stores and watching Cubs games.
*Amy Usher Gregston ’87 will be enjoying her third year on Team Simpson. She and her husband Bryan ’87 (also a member of Team Simpson) live near Denver. Amy is a physical education teacher who enjoys camping, running, reading and hanging out with her two kids. One of her fond memories of RAGBRAI was the singing nuns, who seem to make an appearance along the route every year. Amy is too modest to mention it, so we will let you know that she still holds a track record at Simpson for the 200-yard dash.
Anamosa Fun Fact
This town was birthplace of Grant Wood, Anamosa also was named the Pumpkin Capitol of Iowa in 1993 by the state legislature. Pumpkinfest, a festival and weigh-in, is held each October.