The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

July 26, 2013

Fairfield hosts Iowa's biggest party with RAGBRAI

FAIRFIELD — Jachin Otte stood in front of a vendor's stall, waiting on a friend who was looking over the merchandise.

Otte was easy to spot with a black-and-gold University of Missouri jersey. He didn't attend Mizzou. In fact, his home is closer to this year's RAGBRAI route than the university. But he still supports his home-state team.

It's relatively easy to see how someone from northeastern Missouri could wind up on RAGBRAI this year. But Otte was waiting on Bill Dillon, who hails from Virginia. That's a bit more of a trip.

“I did an internship up here,” Dillon explained.

This year is the first RAGBRAI for both Otte and Dillon. Both said they enjoyed it, even though the routes through southern Iowa are known for having hillier terrain than when RAGBRAI treks through the northern part of the state.

“It's a challenge, for sure,” said Dillon. “But the towns have been really nice to us. They've been really encouraging.”

Dubuque's Martin Fesler was getting supportive reactions, too, because of his “Metropolis” jersey. No, not Superman's Metropolis. Fritz Lang's 1927 film. He bought it “a number of years ago” after seeing a vendor who had biking shirts that featured old movies.

“I get two, three compliments per day on it,” Fesler said.

Making the compliments sweeter was the fact Fesler was in a competition with a friend to see who got more comments. His friend was wearing a Cubs jersey, and Fesler was winning.

The Fairfield square steadily added people as morning blended into the afternoon. Food vendors on one side sold everything from gyros and salmon poppers to the more traditional tenderloin sandwiches.

The repair shops were busy, too. The riders have put a lot of miles on their bikes in the past few days. Some sought out routine maintenance, while others needed more serious repairs. The acrid smell of spray-on lubricants spoke to a steady business.

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