"Thank you, Ringsted," said a RAGBRAI rider departing Ringsted Tuesday.
No doubt, he could have been speaking for thousands of others.
Ringsted went all out to welcome several thousand riders on what was destined to be the longest leg of RAGBRAI, and they approached it with a spirit of serving their guests - not gouging them.
Churches, nonprofits and businesses offered everything from rollepose to aebleskiver and vinnebrod (the aebleskiver was the last to go, if your were wondering). The prices were reasonable if now downright cheap. Al Madden, chair of the Emmet County Board of Supervisors and local Pioneer dealer, hung out a running hose in front of his store so cyclists could fill up their water bottles (wanna guess how much he could have made in Sturgis by calling it "Mountain Spring Water"?).
Sheriff Mike Martens and his deputies kept tabs on everything, gently reminding people that Ringsted DOES have an open container law. "Please finish it or dump it out," Martens politely asked. No doubt, many people were somewhat surprised by such a soft-spoken approach to law enforcement. In a lot of states, they would have gone to jail.
But everyone seemed to have a great time, streaming into town in the early hours with pretty much everyone leaving town by noon.
Being kind to your guests, which Ringsted seems to have quite a knack for, is a great way to get they to come back. It only takes one person to make a rude remark for a visitor to conclude that "everyone" in a community is that way.
Well, about 10,000 people from around the world Tuesday learned what a great town Ringsted is. That will no doubt help them decide that RAGBRAI is great and Iowa is great and that "flyover country" is something that's worth giving a lot more attention.