I took the shuttle to the town of Wilton so that I could ensure my arrival in to Davenport at noon. That still left 35 miles of biking to accomplish in under 3 hours. That meant my stops had to be short.
The passthrough towns were not as busy today as they have been the rest of the week. Like me, most riders are in a hurry to finish so they can catch their charter buses home. I did stop briefly for water and for pie, but otherwise kept the pace up. The route was pretty flat, but the headwinds were back, which slowed me a bit.
We were greeted in Davenport by residents lining the streets and applauding us as we went past. It seemed like everyone was out cheering us on and yelling congratulations. We felt like we were finishing the Tour de France.
Much of the route from the border of the town to the river was downhill. This made for a fast and fun ride. But there was still one more big hill in our way: Fairmount Street. When the final route was announced earlier this year there was some grumbling on the RAGBRAI forums about the inclusion of Fairmount Street on the route. Those who live in Davenport said there were better ways to get 10,000 bicyclists to the riverfront that didn't involve such a steep hill. But the city insisted that this route would be the safest and would minimize the impact on automobile traffic. So up the hill we went. And yeah, it was a doozy. Not the worst one we have done all week, but still pretty challenging to throw at us in the last 5 miles of a week long ride.
After the hill we soon turned on to River Drive and got our first glimpse of the mighty Mississippi. Just a few more miles and we were at the riverfront park and the end of the ride. I took a moment to stand along the railing and get my picture. But my day still wasn't done. I had to ride 4 more miles along the riverfront to get to the parking lot where my bags and my family were waiting. Then, finally, I was finished.
This has been a fantastic experience and I am glad that I was able to share it here. I did a total of 362 miles in 7 days, and saw America's heartland along the way. It was short of my goal, but I still feel good about what I have accomplished.