Host families make ride feel like home

Tennessee native says the people keep him coming back

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - The ride across Iowa is a lot of miles and a lot of long days, and some of the riders just want something that feels like a home at the end of the day. 
 
Each stop on the trip offers something differed. Downtown Clear Lake, IA had multiple stages with live music, vendors, the lakefront and other entertainment. Hectice chaos spread through the blocked off streets.
 
Luckily, RAGBRAI solicits volunteers each year. These people open up their homes to give the riders a full Iowa experience. These are people like the Schaefers in Clear Lake. 
 
"I thought it would be really fun to have people staying with us and getting to know them and seeing where they're from an getting to learn why they wanted to do RAGBRAI," said Valerie Schaefer, as she finished setting up her yeard and home for visitors.
 
This year is the second time the Schaefers have hosted RAGBRAI riders. They don't know them, they just open the door to strangers.  
 
"I don't think there's enough room and enough campgrounds, and they bring in portable showers," said Schaefer.  "But I always think it's nice for them to get to know the community and the people and get to have a little bit of home while they're on their trip."
 
Home can mean a lot of things, but the Schaefers really had it all. They had a welcome sign on the door, even one with everyone's names. They had driving directions to the downtown activities. They had directions to their bathroom and their showers, along with water for the riders. They also had their wi-fi available, table and chairs set up, and the area for camping.
 
Blke Bohanan and his family have been coming all the way from Tennessee to ride RAGBRAI for years. He says his favorite thing is taking a real shower. 
 
"Everybody has their, I guess their number one list of things on their priorities and and a shower in mine," said Bohanan. "Once you get off the road a shower can bring you back to life."
 
 "I have friends from out of state and I don't think they would be willing to let people into their homes," said Schaefer.  "I just feel like whoever is going to be riding across Iowa would be friendly."
Bohanan says the reason they come to RAGBRAI each year is to meet the people. He says the Iowa hospitality is amazing, and it's his favorite part of the trip.
 
"To open your home to somebody, to a team of people that you've never met and let them inside to use your shower, the reason that we continue to come back is because RAGBRAI continues to do it's thing and and we get to come back every year, it's the best week of the year for us."

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