Outdoors

RAGBRAI Day 3: The shortest route and a sweet corn cannon

Laura Sievert greets an Iowa State Patrol trooper who was blasting Prince at an intersection. | Submitted Photo
Posted: Jul. 24, 2019 1:00 pm

Editor's Note: Laura Sievert, executive director of Arts Quincy, is participating in the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa or RAGBRAI. The 427-mile trip will have her pedal Sunday through Saturday from Council Bluffs to Keokuk, Iowa. Laura is blogging about her adventure and the home-baked pie along the way.

Day 3 can best be summed up with the word "perfect."

The Winterset to Indianola section of the route is the shortest day at only 40 miles, so with the whole day to go and only three-and-a-half hours on the bikes in front of us, it was the perfect time to have some fun.

I left Winterset at a leisurely time of 8 a.m. and pedaled the 16 miles to the most fun stop of the entire trip: Howell Nursery. This enormous tree farm is laid out as a family-fun stop in the fall with a corn mazes, pumpkins, goats and lots more.

Laura Sievert tries her luck at the sweet corn cannon Tuesday at Howell Nursery. | Submitted Photo

Today, the place was packed with thousands upon thousands of cyclists and there were a hundred things to do. My personal favorite was the sweet corn cannon. You load an ear of sweet corn down a large pressurized tube, smash it with a loading stick and then fire it in the air. What was the target? Oh, three bicycles strung up 100 feet in the air between two grain silos! For the record, I hit one on my second shot (you get four), and they sound a buzzer and the whole crowd cheers.

Other highlights of the farm were goat yoga (hysterical), a giant cow with a slide built in it, the "Howelletzer" Canon, which shoots cantaloupes the length of two football fields and a wide variety of food vendors.

Speaking of food, somehow I came up empty on pie today. I did, however, have a cayenne pepper chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. It was incredible!

I have to shout out both Norwalk and Indianola today for giving cyclists a warm welcome. There was an excellent band in Norwalk ("panda" was in their name) and I really enjoyed it. I also bought a cute necklace made by kids of the town in support of the local arts programs.

Indianola is our overnight tonight, and they had a wonderful welcome waiting for us. Their town theme is "Nola" and the whole place is decked out like Mardi Gras. People cheered us on up the last big hill into town, a great family fed me cookies and refused money for them, and '90s band Sister Hazel played in the park.

A terrific day and I'm looking forward to tomorrow, even though it will be the longest day at 84 miles, ending in Centerville. We just have to take it one mile at a time!

Good night, all!

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