July 27 - Mile 176.5
We often think of homemade pies, Iowa chops, bratwurst, and all manner of other great food as the fuel that keeps riders going across Iowa. It is actually the Iowa hospitality, though, that makes all of this work. I met a man yesterday in Pocahontas and when I asked him how many years he had participated in RAGBRAI, he told me, "Sixteen." When I asked him what kept him coming back year after year, he told me it was Iowa hospitality. We certainly experienced some of that hospitality last night as we camped at the home of Dan and Darla Vonnahme (pictured here). The Vonnahmes set up extra showers for us in their back yard to accommodate our large group and warmly welcomed us into their home. True hospitality is best expressed when freely and sincerely given, as is particularly the case with the Vonnahmes. They are not directly connected to Simpson. Co-captain Chris Goodale describes them as "friends of Simpson who are connected by a dotted line." Dan and Darla's connection to the college is that their grown daughter is a friend of a Simpson alumna. Yet they opened their home to 50+ people traipsing in and out for showers and a change of clothes and made all of them feel right at home. This is a story that is replicated over and over again in every one of the overnight towns. So to all of the overnight hosts who gladly give up their homes, we say thank you for helping to make RAGBRAI the special event that keeps more than 10,000 riders from all over the country and all over the world coming back year after year.