We make the trek to RAGBRAI (Register’s-Annual-Great-Bicycle-Ride-Across-Iowa) 2015’s eighth and final overnight locale for the second installment of The Iowa Gallivant’s scouting of this proud Iowa tradition. The late July hum of bike tires, the sunny glare off of colorful headgear, and the sound of craft beer taps hard at work will be hitting Davenport before you know it. So, while you’re making your camping plans, reading product reviews about the best gel inserts for your seats, or figuring out how you’re going to get one more 400+ mile journey out of your favorite jersey, take a few minutes to see what Team Goodvin is up to. We’re scouting the great city of Davenport and it’s vibrant downtown district!
We make our way to our fist stop in Davenport. A short walk from our hotel room is the Freight House district- home to an amazing farmers market, tap house, grocery shopping, an amazing deli. Today, we had the opportunity to meet some folks in the Quad Cities Bicycle Club and their colleagues as we happened to plan our trip to Davenport on the same day they set up a day to showcase their services and talents. Bike maintenance to RAGBRAI registration and everything in between that the area’s bicycle enthusiasts are passionate about were on display today. A great twist of fate for us on this day!
We mingled and introduced ourselves to the QC cycling masses on this fine day. The fever pitch was high and the atmosphere was filled an amazing group of people who loved this sport. I’ve always admired anyone that fills a niche and does it with passion. This assembly of riders did a great job of representing themselves while exuding their knowledge of past, present, and future of area biking. The event attracted the local news and inspired us to hurry up with the bike-thing. That means getting more active and hitting the road this summer. Cycling style!
Knowledge is power and we gathered more than we ever thought from the amazing members of the QCBC. But, Jessica Waytenick of the QCCVB had a great lunch spot picked out for us right at the Freight House. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate someone doing their homework. And Jessica boned up on her Iowa Gallivant studies- she knew exactly what sort of a place we like. She picked out a restaurant that has one of the most impressive menus that showcases locals ingredients- many of them grown at the owner’s own farm. Lunch at Fresh Deli by Nostalgia Farms!
Fresh Deli’s neighbor is the Quad Cities Food Hub- a perfect place to find locally grown products on sale for their loyal shoppers.
Time to relax a little. And by relax I mean gamble. And by gamble I mean let’s make sure we don’t squander our blog budget. I think we have a budget? Well, any-who, Davenport’s local casino was just a short walk from our hotel and the attractions downtown. And not that deceptive Las Vegas nearby casino. Hey let’s go to Caesars. I can see their sign from here. 9 miles later…….Yea, it’s not like that at all. All aboard the riverboat they call Rhythm City Casino! Ahoy! They let me say that too. “Ahoy”. Like a real steamboat cap’n.
Monie and I showed up with cash. And thanks to the number “5” (remember the view from our fifth floor room at the Radisson-Davenport?) we left with more cash than we came in with. Rhythm City Casino was not only kind to our wallets, their staff was welcoming and made sure we had a great time. Micheal was serving the drinks and suggested a killer apple flavored rum and Coke for Monie and he hooked me up with a bottle of Uncommon Stout from Bent River Brewing Company across the river in Moline. Hey! Illinois got a mention in The Iowa Gallivant. Good for you, Land of Lincoln!
I believe that its bad karma to NOT be excited about leaving the casino a winner. So, therefore, we gallivant to our next stop that’s just a couple blocks away. Craft beer at it’s finest is calling for us and we can’t turn it down. Nor could we turn down their appetizer menu. Front Street Brewery, we’re gonna do it!
It was late afternoon and the crowd was still bringing in a steady flow of business to the Front Street Brewery. We took a spot at the bar and then took it all in. The bartender today was Sean and he was more than educated on the brews that Front Street was pumping out. It was time for Sean to take us to “flight” school!
Beer isn’t the only thing Front Street has to offer. Although we wouldn’t complain if it was. They had a great selection of entrees, sandwiches, salads and appetizers. We went after a couple classics that the Front Street kitchen crew prepared for us in their own unique way. And if it seems like we’re being “egg heavy” on our blog lately, it’s because we have been. We have a thing.
Not only are there tons of things to do in downtown Davenport, there are also some great sites that are just few quick bike-rides to get to. Such as…….
The day is young and we have a few more places to hit up before we call it a night. It’s about pace and keeping a good one. We’ve been on foot all day and we’re not breaking that habit. We wander into a lively taphouse filled with thirsty good-timers. Davenport gives us Great River Brewery!
Great River Brewery has the positive atmosphere that is just for a good beer drink’n time. A long list of their proud craft beers, outside seating, passionate tap-tenders, (Did I just make that up?) tours of their brewery and not one TV to be seen. Nothing at Great River Brewery will distract you from your craft beer and friends you came with or that you’ll me making. Except for the occasional well behaved dog that may wander in. That’s a pleasant distraction the owners and their brew masters allow.
The only way The Iowa Gallivant survives is by meeting and having a memorable time with the locals. Not only were the employees of Great River Brewery easy and fun to get along with, many of their customers were too!
Needless to say, it was time to soak it up. Not just the craft beer swimming in our bellies, but more of downtown Davenport. We at the Iowa Gallivant always want to hear a good story. So it was only fitting that we grab a bite to eat a place named after storytelling. A kitchen and bar called Me & Billy.
It’s now the Radisson’s turn to call us into the comfort of our much needed bed. We’ve “crafted”, gambled, ate, and stretched our legs through downtown Davenport. And there’s still so much more to see. We lay our heavy little heads upon thy pillows and start the chainsaws known as my nostrils and the impending snoring attack that exits from them. Sorry 5th floor. 4th and 6th. Breakfast in a few…..
Right, honey! We’ll get to sleep-in since the kids are at home with the Nana. Helloooooooooo 6:00 AM anyway. I guess the promise of an action packed breakfast excursion was too much for our slumber to handle. If I know RAGBRAI’ers, and I think I do, I know they will be needing a hearty stick-to-your-ribs, but not your spokes, breakfast of champs. Dora, working the front desk at the Radisson directed us to Rock’s Anchor Grill. And we’re happy she did!
We arrived at Rock’s Anchor Grill just when they were starting another push of customers. The grill can be seen by all and you can watch them prepare made from scratch meals. When we arrived, one of the prep cooks was preparing and portioning out their own sausage patties. You heard me right. Their own breakfast sausage patties. You won’t hear the clank of a frozen disk hitting the hot grill at Rock’s. And it doesn’t stop with the patties. They were cutting their home fries and grating their hash browns from freshly baked russet potatoes. How do I know this? Because we literally saw them do it! They made their biscuits from scratch. Fried their bacon to order rather than having a mountain of it cooked off ahead of time. Whisked their eggs to order for scrambles and omelets. Everyone was constantly prepping, then cooking then serving. And we could see them doing it. These ladies were professionals.
As we roared through our breakfast we enjoyed the tunes on the kitchen’s radio that could be heard by all. Our server attempted to get the whole place to join in during the chorus of the song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” We happily obliged. For a few minutes we were Wayne and Garth enjoying coffee and sausage gravy in Davenport, Iowa.
Overnight #8 is in good hands, RAGBRAI fans. As if there was any doubt. This was yet another successful exploration of another great Iowa river town. The culture and uniqueness changes with every stop on the Mississippi. The legion of cyclists will have a lot to celebrate after they dip their front tires into the river. We know many of them will be seeing the city of Davenport for the first time and we hope that this supplies some ideas for your trip on RAGBRAI’s final leg. There is so much more to do here and our silly blog has covered just a fraction of Davenport. See you on part 3, everybody. Bring a friend next time!
And don’t forget to read part 1 of our Scouting RAGBRAI series…….
Another couple places that should be on your Davenport agenda are just a short bike ride away from downtown
And for those of you who don’t think a 400 miles bike ride isn’t enough, Davenport will be hosting it’s annual Bix 7 Road Race on that same weekend. Thousands of cyclist and runners collide. We hope not literally.