Opinion

Southeast Iowa impressed RAGBRAI visitors

PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF SHIPLEY

Jeff Shipley, right, is seen here relaxing at SOMM Wines in Fairfield with, from left, Pam and Will Burnes, and Krista Matthes.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF SHIPLEY Jeff Shipley, right, is seen here relaxing at SOMM Wines in Fairfield with, from left, Pam and Will Burnes, and Krista Matthes.
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Congratulations to Iowa for another successful RAGBRAI! I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who made this year’s ride possible. From each and every rider to every family selling water and Gatorade on the side of the road, and most especially the town committees that make the event super special, thank you!

This year’s ride was huge for House District 82, as the route gave Bloomfield, Douds, Libertyville, Fairfield, and Stockport the opportunity to showcase their communities. Cyclists pour in from all across the country and without a doubt, Southeast Iowa rocked it. I hope to do my best to make sure that everyone who contributed their time and talent to RAGBRAI gets the credit they deserve.

It’s very satisfying hearing visitors talk about how impressed they are with our communities, how beautiful our state is, and how gracious our people are.

Being able to traverse our legislative district on bicycle is much more rewarding than driving. Although I only rode a day and a half of the route, I still have an ache in my leg as I write this!

It’s difficult to articulate the essence of RAGBRAI. There are too many unique experiences. There’s the wide open sky, the camaraderie, the physical challenge, the hospitality, the freedom of the open road, all coming together to express deep human interconnection and appreciation. At least that’s what I got out of it. This year’s ride was even more special as I got to share it with my father and my aunt and uncle. We had so much fun we hope to get more family involved next year.

Practically speaking, it gave me a great opportunity to visit with constituents, but again, I was only able to see a small fraction of all the amazingness. Iowa Corn Growers nourished riders in Bloomfield with over 2,000 ears of corn. John Whitaker’s farm hosted free Niman Ranch pork platters. I know the Amish school in Lebanon killed it with their chicken dinner.

Fairfield was glowing and Stockport shined. I was too exhausted to enjoy Douds. The Howard homestead off Libertyville Road hosted what I heard described by a veteran out-of-state rider as, “the best party I’ve ever attended on RAGBRAI.” Incidentally, the second best party he recalled had been in Packwood in 2013. We have a lot to be proud of.

To everyone who contributed, you are what makes Iowa so awesome. Thanks again.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Fairfield City Administrator Aaron Kooiker for helping resolve a last-second bureaucratic crisis that the state of Iowa was imposing on one of our beloved Fairfield Square retailers.

“Why must we seek the government’s permission to enjoy a glass of wine?” is a pertinent question of political philosophy.

Jeff Shipley, Fairfield