Thursday, July 26, this year’s 428-mile, 46th Annual Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa came through the area – including overnight in Newton, Reasnor, pass-through town of Sully for breakfast (and lunch as it turned out), Lynnville, Searsboro, Montezuma, Deep River, Keswick, and overnight in Sigourney. RAGBRAI® has become the world’s oldest, largest, and longest recreational bicycle tour.
Thursday was viewed as the week’s most challenging day. Day five featured a 68.6 mile ride and 2,719 feet of climb, the hilliest day of the week. RAGBRAI is a great way to see the beauty of Iowa in the summer as a huge group of riders enjoying camaraderie.
The first ride was a tiny shadow of the numbers the ride now gets. Jasper County Sheriff’s Office deputies on duty in Sully said they estimated 24,000 in Newton overnight on Wednesday, July 25, “and they’re all headed this way today.” Depending on whose estimates one believes, Sully’s 820 population increased 20 to 30 times last Thursday. The first biker rolled through Sully around 5 a.m. And bikers continued to pass through all day, with two bikers spending the night in their tent in the Sully Casey’s parking lot. Riders of all shapes, sizes, ages, nationalities, and costumes trekked through on all sorts of bikes or in carts behind bikes from all over the world and the U.S. A rider from Massachusetts said about Sully, “It’s a very nice town with nice little touches like shady seating or in the sun if you prefer, and such a variety of food for a small town.” He also said all the music, especially the Sully Big Band, was “nice work.”
The nine official food vendors were Sully Lions Club in cooperation with crazy, pancake-tossing Chris Cakes, Lake View Camp, Deep Rock Ice Cream Shoppe, Lynnville-Sully Comm-unity Education Foundation in cooperation with Prime Country operated by Mark and Vicky Huizer, Sully Christian School, Coffee Cup Café, Garden Thyme Club, Van Wijk Winery, and Los Primos from West Des Moines.
Sully Christian School and its RAGBRAI Committee would like to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to each person who gave of their time and gifts to support the RAGBRAI fundraiser. Volunteers worked together to accomplish a significant task which resulted in a profit of $7,000 for the school. “Sully Christian School is so blessed to be a part of a great community and surrounded by a gracious family of supporters!”
Donald Kaul, 83, co-founder and “Des Moines Register” writer, died from cancer this year just as the ride got underway in Onawa on Sunday morning, July 22. It was an accidental fun biking ramble across the state founded with his friend and fellow journalist, John Karras (now 88), in 1973. On Thursday, Karras was in New Sharon on the optional 37-mile Karras Loop, which brought bikers through Sully, Lynnville, and Searsboro twice on Thursday and gave cyclists a “century” day, lingo for biking 100 miles in a day.
The winners in the quilt drawing benefit for Parkinson’s Disease were Cyclone quilt won by Larry Hansen of Haverhill and Hawkeye quilt won by Rhonda Pool of Sully.
The Sully RAGBRAI Steering Committee included co-chairs Gordon Yarrington and Teryl Ver Ploeg, Amy Van Weelden, Ryk De Goey, Deb Johnson, and Margaret Vander Weerdt. Johnson was in charge of the approximately 60 volunteers, and she reports several people told her Sully was their favorite stop all week. She also reports 95 percent of the event went off without a hitch, and the other five percent was a few minor problems that cropped up. The top three compliments she heard were: 1. Free water, 2. Lots of port-a-potties, and 3. Sully Big Band which sounded great and wasn’t too loud so one could still talk and be heard.
Volunteer parking was organized at the L-S parking lot by Superintendent Shane Ehresman. Mike Parkinson, L-S football coach and teacher, organized Hawk football players to be the trash detail, and they did a superb job.
Volunteering can have its challenges, but volunteer Ruth Renaud of Sully said as she handed out markers at the signature wall, “Whoever put me in this job, I’m glad. I’ve really enjoyed it. I was able to meet lots of people, and everyone has been so complimentary of the way our town looks and how friendly everyone is.”
Johnson presents a thank you from the steering committee: “A heartfelt THANK YOU and THUMBS UP to the residents of Sully and our surrounding communities for your part in putting Sully on the map during RAGBRAI XLVI! Sully was sincerely appreciated and recognized by many bike riders for the grace and hospitality that was shown to them during their stay. Many, many thanks to all who volunteered their time before, during, or after the event, and to those who contributed toward all the amenities that made our visitors’ time in Sully so enjoyable. GREAT JOB!”