RAGBRAI route will allow towns to showcase storm recovery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

RAGBRAI route will allow towns to showcase storm recovery


The countdown to RAGBRAI 2012 is on!  Sunday, organizers announced the full route for the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

The ride begins July 22nd and starts winding its way through eastern Iowa on the 26th, beginning in Marshalltown and running through Garwin, Clutier, Garrison, Vinton, and Shellsburg before stopping overnight in Cedar Rapids.  And for many of the pass-through towns, RABGRAI will also mark one year since a severe wind storm blew a wide path of destruction through Tama and Benton Counties.

July 11, 2011, communities across Benton and Tama Counties were just beginning to pick up from a massive storm that packed winds over 100 miles an hour.  But now, cities like Vinton are well on their way to recovery.

"It's unfortunate that we lost a whole generation of trees.  Some trees we lost were literally 100 plus years old.  And it's going to be a long time before we're able to recoup from that loss," said David Redlinger, Vinton Mayor Pro-Tem.

The city's already knocked down 600 dead trees in the public right-of-way and more may need to come down if they fail to bloom this spring.  Vinton will get the chance to show off that recovery after marking the storm's one-year anniversary, as RAGBRAI riders roll through town.

"It's a wonderful event, great family event even.  So bring the kids out and let them see all the different bikes and all the different riders that come through," said Redlinger.

Along the ride, cyclists might catch a glimpse of how some are commemorating the road to storm recovery.  Tom Garwood and his friend Brian Parr have taken what's left of some of the city's trees and created beautiful artwork with chainsaws and chisels.

"The wind may have taken our trees, but it didn't take our spirits," Garwood said.

That's fueled creativity for "wood spirits" like the ones Garwood created from two remaining tree stumps in his backyard.  And he thinks RAGBRAI riders will be impressed with what they find across the community.

"I hope they can see there's still beauty in town even though we don't have a whole lot of shade!" said Garwood.

It's beauty that might plant seeds for RAGBRAI riders to have fond memories of the city so they'll want to come back.

Communities along the RAGBRAI route will meet with ride organizers later this month in Webster City.  Vinton will then start forming committees to get businesses and the community prepared for the cycling spotlight.


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