A smooth ride

Positive feedback from RAGBRAI in State Center, Melbourne

T-R FILE PHOTO - Members of the State Center and Melbourne RAGBRAI committees said WednesdayÕs event went over smoothly. The total number of people to visit the towns of 1,500 and 820, respectively, is estimated at 25,000.

STATE CENTER — For two small Marshall County communities, the sight of thousands upon thousands of bicyclists streaming through town is a novel one.

Despite the influx of an estimated 25,000 people in both State Center and Melbourne during RAGBRAI Wednesday, committee members from both towns said everything went smoothly.

“It went awesome, from vendor setup, road blocks, support vehicles coming in town, everything ran as smooth as it can for 25,000 people coming to a town of 1,500,” said State Center RAGBRAI Committee co-chair Hunter Wilkening.

He said the first riders came out of the west early Wednesday.

“The first rider hit State Center at 6:23 a.m.,” Wilkening said. “I would say basically from 8 a.m. to probably about noon, there was a constant flow of thousands of riders just coming into town.”

He said a few stragglers came through late that afternoon — a few participants even decided to call State Center home for the night.

“We also had a couple teams of buses, about 200 people, they stayed in State Center and partied all night,” Wilkening said. “They all told us they find a town that they really like, they party there, and then their bus will take them on from there.”

In the days before the event began, committee members set up a last-minute fundraiser to help tornado victims in Marshalltown. Committee co-chair Danielle Toyne said the fundraiser during RAGBRAI yielded $1,434 — that amount will increase with matches from Central State Bank, Engineered Equipment Solutions, Super Shine Car Wash and the Haesemeyer family.

To the south, Melbourne RAGBRAI Committee co-chair Theresa Daters also said the feedback was positive from Wednesday’s event.

“I felt that we were very prepared, a lot of the vendors said it was very well-organized,” she said. “It was just a constant flow through town is how I would describe it … I’d say from 10 (a.m.) until 3 (p.m.) it was a constant wave of bicycles.”

Daters said she had some good experiences with riders visiting town.

“One of the first riders wanted me to hold his bike while he took a picture of me, and he was from Melbourne, Australia,” she said with a laugh.

Daters also said Bike World officials praised Melbourne for “the hospitality and organization” the town presented.

“Everybody pitched in and did their part, and nobody felt overwhelmed, everybody knew exactly what we needed to do and we did it,” she said. “It was an awesome display of teamwork.”

For more on the tornado damage fundraising effort, email statecenterragbrai18@gmail.com

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com