Waves of riders roll in

(Above) Riders were greeted in Ventura before traveling along the lake on North Shore Drive to downtown Clear Lake.

Thousands of RAGBRAI cyclists love spending time at Lake

Clear Lake was ready when an estimated 10,000 cyclists and 45,000 others descended on the town Tuesday for an overnight stop during the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

“Welcome to Clear Lake!  Where you from?” shouted official greeter Tim Esbeck as cyclists entered the downtown, passing in front of Clear Lake’s iconic Lady of the Lake.  It’s a phrase he repeated hundreds of times, celebrating the countless Iowa towns represented by the riders, in addition to those from across the country and even the world.

Alan and Lisa DeJong, from Portland, Ore., were riding in their fifth RAGBRAI.  It’s become a regular summertime routine- exploring a beautiful state one small town at a time.  “We’ve come in search of dark beer and barbecue,” joked Alan, who was given directions to the nearby Laketime Brewery to cool off from the mid-80 degree temperatures.

Local RAGBRAI Chairman Diane Thompson said she was pleased with how the day was going and was looking forward to all of the riders arriving and taking in all that Clear Lake has to offer.

“We hope all the towns along the route had a great day.  I heard things went well in Wesley and there were big crowds in Garner.  We want everyone to succeed.  The ride is about Iowa, not just Clear Lake,” she said.

Jeremey Ainley had a great job on RAGBRAI Tuesday.  He was serving as the driver for the Miss Guided excursion boat, shuttling passengers from the Main Avenue boat launch to The Landing and the PM Park Tiki Bar from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  From 5-8 a RAGBRAI team had chartered the boat for a private cruise.

RAGBRAI booster

Chris Palmer was as excited to have RAGBRAI riders come to town, as the riders themselves were to get here.  Palmer was among the 750 volunteers who helped to make RAGBRAI’s overnight stay in Clear Lake fantastic— and he did it for more than 14 hours.  Palmer volunteered to work in the beverage garden from 9:30 a.m. to midnight.

“I knew they needed a lot of help, so I thought I could give up a day of work to volunteer.  I thought it would be a lot of fun to see all the people come into town and go up and watch the entertainment.  It’s fun to show off how nice our community is.  Everyone works hard to make people feel welcome and enjoy their time here.”

A 22-person local Steering Committee organized the details for cyclists and others to come to Clear Lake to be housed, fed, and entertained during RAGBRAI.  The committee worked on the event for five months, ever since Clear Lake was announced as a RAGBRAI Host Town on Jan. 22.  The group oversaw plans for 13 hours of entertainment, a 420,000 square foot beverage garden, over 40 vendors, five campgrounds to accommo-

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