By Mike Whittlesey
Last week’s RAGBRAI visit to La Porte City can only be described as a valiant effort that came up short. I’m referring, of course, to pie. On Thursday, July 23rd, the community learned first-hand that the voracious (and legendary) appetite RAGBRAI riders have for pie is a well-deserved one, indeed. The 1,500+ slices of pie prepared by the American Lutheran Church were gone by 1 PM. More than 1,000 fry pies offered at the Amish Family Foods booth were happily devoured before the day was done. And that’s not counting the pie for sale at the Sacred Heart and St. Paul United Methodist church booths.
While the effort to meet the pie demand may have disappointed some of the late-arriving guests making the ride from Cedar Falls to Hiawatha, clearly the effort to show riders and their support personnel a good time in La Porte City did not. The combination of near-perfect weather and local citizens highly motivated to offer a healthy dose of LPC hospitality to riders coming to Iowa from all around the world had many offering words of thanks to bystanders as they pedaled out of town.
If there is one word that can sum up the RAGBRAI experience, it is TEAMWORK. Many riders make the journey accross the state as part of a team, and the creative names and uniforms they display are an important part of the RAGBRAI culture, each with its own unique story to tell.
The sense of collegiality shared among riders on the daunting 462 mile journey from Sioux City to Davenport was clearly evident on the streets of La Porte City, as cyclists used commands such as “rider on!” and “rider off!” to express their intentions to those riding around them. When potentially dangerous obstacles along the road were encountered, riders were also quick to warn those behind them with a shout and pointing of the arm at the offending terrain.
The safety of participants is clearly the number one concern for RAGBRAI organizers. That accidents along the way become newsworthy events is a tribute to just how few serious injuries are incurred over the course of the ride, a remarkable feat considering how many moving parts there are making the trip across the state.
Hosting the world’s largest bike ride for the first time in 32 years, teamwork was essential for those planning La Porte City’s role as a pass-through community along the 2015 RAGBRAI route. Over the five month process of planning for “Ride LPC 7-23,” the steering committee held fast to its commitment to closely adhere to the guidelines and recommendations established by RAGBRAI organizers. The end result affirmed those efforts, as Main Street vendors enjoyed a tremendously successful day serving riders who thoroughly enjoyed the time they spent in La Porte City.
Given the feedback from riders in 2015, La Porte City will not have to wait another 30+ years to receive another invitation to host RAGBRAI. Taking what has been learned from this year’s experience, the goal will be to make the next one even better. That’s a lot of pie!