By Ted Schultz
Special to the Herald
As if the city of Clinton already didn't do a great job of welcoming RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) riders at the end of the 471.1-mile journey Saturday, I got a special treat a few miles before that.
While pedaling the final 16 miles between Goose Lake and Clinton, I was greeted with a sign posted by friends Rita and Mike Powers near the highway by their yard stating “Cornhusker Ted Schultz ... welcome to Hawkeye Country.”
I felt honored, to say the least. I worked with Rita for a number of years at the Clinton Herald and we always had our friendly "Nebraska-Iowa" rivalry. I naturally stopped and sat for a while to talk ... I truly appreciate what they did. It was awesome!!
Before I continue, let me step back a bit.
I also had a nice treat Thursday night in Cedar Rapids when I was invited to dinner by Clinton native Jim Jungjohann, who now lives in Colorado. Also joining us was Richard Grugin, another great friend who was principal at Lyons Middle School when my wife, Marsha, taught there.
In fact, I rode with Richard the final 10 miles of Friday's ride into Anamosa.
Anyway, back to Saturday. It was a 70-mile ride, but arguably the easiest of the week.
I have to admit, I blew through most of the pass-through towns between Anamosa and Clinton. I did stop for a bit at Delmar to check out the historic Delmar Depot, which actually has a strong connection to the Orphan Train (I think that was a song by Ozzy Osbourne … oh wait, that was Crazy Train).
I made my first longer stop in Goose Lake before heading the final stretch to Clinton. After stopping to see Rita and Mike, it was an easy stretch into Clinton to dip my tire in the Mississippi River.
After doing so, I headed over to the baseball stadium to say "hi" to LumberKings' General Manager Ted Tornow. He wasn't there, but was helping control traffic on Riverview Drive where I found him.
Shortly after that, I had a pleasant surprise by seeing maybe the friendliest person I've ever known, Sarah Wenzel (I was one of her track coaches at Clinton High … I still would have loved to see what she could have done for me in an 800 if we could concentrate on that, but she was too valuable in other shorter races and long jump!!!!). That was fun to see her along with her mom and sister.
From there, my trek continued as I biked to see Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker, his wife Tanya and kids Caitlyn and Jack. Eric has been a great friend of mine since my initial Herald days, and to my understanding, we are the only two charter members left in the Geezer Fantasy Football League.
Then it was time to do something I had been salivating about since entering Clinton … head to Homer's Deli and get a turkey bacon club sandwich. Wow, I hadn't had one since I left Clinton in 2007 and it was awesome. Hmmmmm … I wonder if Homer's delivers to Grinnell?
As I pedaled down Pershing Avenue, I happened to see Larry Brennan and his family outside their house so I stopped for a bit. Larry was my assistant at the Herald and it was fun to catch up.
I still had to get to my bus for the trip back to Grinnell, but of course I couldn't do that before stopping to see my buddy Sonja Young-Housenga. She and her husband were working at a booth down by the riverfront and visiting with them was a perfect cap during my trip back to Clinton.
From there, I hopped on my bus and waved goodbye to Clinton and a great RAGBRAI.
I got back to Grinnell at about 7:30 p.m. and was soooooo happy to get home and see my dogs, Archie and Oscar. I missed them so much (I heard all kinds of people on RAGBRAI tell me how much they missed their pets).
I waited on laundry until this morning (I'm typing this Sunday afternoon) and when opening my bags of sweaty, wet clothing from 100-degree days on RAGBRAI … yeeeeeesssshhhhhh. It was nasty, probably the fourth-worst smell I've ever encountered. Oh well, that's being taken care of by the washer as I type.
Last but not least, I need to give kudos to my sister Paula, who was doing her first RAGBRAI. While the ride is very fun, there are moments when things get very, very tough. That's when it comes down to attitude, good or bad.
A lawyer I met from Los Angeles had two teammates quit about halfway through, telling him "this heat and wind suck, we're going home" … and they did.
My sister, on the other hand, got her knee banged up in a crash the first day but came back smiling and ready for the next day's ride. That's the attitude I'm talking about … the non-wussy attitude … the RAGBRAI attitude!!
Well, thanks for reading my stories throughout the week. I loved RAGBRAI and it was great ending in Clinton in 2012. Hope to be back next year!
Ted Schultz is the former Sports Editor of the Clinton Herald.