#RAGBRAI · Grownup Getaways · Iowa State Parks · South Central Iowa

Scouting RAGBRAI 2016: Lakeside in Leon

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When RAGBRAI calls….Decatur County listens. Leon is prepping for the party of year!

Leon, IA: Decatur County (Our 28th County!)

Here we go again, riders! Our RAGBRAI-2015 scouting series was so successful, we said “RAGBRAI-2016….Hell yea! Let’s do it again!” Needless to say we had a blast last year visiting all the overnight towns on the Register’s-Annual-Great-Bike-Ride-Across-Iowa. We had absolutely no doubt that 2016 would be just as amazing. Part 1 of our scouting trip starts in overnight #4 and the city of Leon. Let’s unwind….lakeside…

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Meet the table of knowledge. Community leaders, planners, volunteers, and all around darn good folks.

We rolled into Leon mid-morning and met with some of the community organizers of Leon’s RAGBRAI events at the local Dairy Queen. Loring Miller, Chet Redman, and Corey Lindsey sat down with us and went over their excitement for the big day while directing us to what Leon had to offer. They knew that Team Goodvin were history buffs and let us know about the local history. Hungarians and Mormons both had a couple things in mind when it came to the settlement of Decatur County in the 1800’s. Let’s plant some crops, make some money, and show our visitors a great time. It was RAGBRAI-Leon in the making. You may want to fact check all that.

We were very lucky, in 2015, in our RAGBRAI adventures especially when it came to the weather. 2016 started out with PERFECT conditions for gallivanting and, most of all, camping. Our campsite was right on the banks of the Little River Lake. The afternoon was sunny, the evening was mild, and there was a slight crisp in the air at night. Absolute ideal camping conditions for Team Goodvin. With the chores complete, we ventured back into town and sought the locals. Found some, too!

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Lunch time- the local coffee shop. From the Ground will be well stocked with the octane needed for thirsty and hungry RAGBRAI’ers!

With my afternoon coffee tics starting, we needed to get the campsite wrapped up. First stop was at From the Ground. Their menu of coffee and tea drinks, hot, iced, and frozen, will be giving the baristas quite a workout during overnight #4. Not only can you get the caffeine fix at From the Ground, they offer some great breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, and a little something we know the RAGBRAI nation loves. PIES, PIES, PIES! (Click on the pictures for descriptions)

Leon has a long storied history here in Iowa, from the early trading with local Indian tribes, to the Mormon Pioneer Trail going right through the heart of Decatur County, and the historic Jefferson Highway running through Leon. Loring Miller, Leon resident and historian, is leading the charge to make the Jefferson Highway a historic byway through Iowa. Jefferson Highway, “From Pines to Palms,” first attracted our attention when we visited the fine town of Colo, IA. The desire to work on getting travelers to “rediscover” small town Iowa that they would have encountered along Jefferson Highway is something we can totally embrace. Sounds like Loring and the City of Leon can relate to the average RAGBRAI rider. Small town is what makes this tour what it is.

You see signs of being a bike friendly community in Leon and all over Decatur County. From The Little River Scenic Pathway to public art displaying cycling tradition in the area.

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As you make your way through Decatur County, you will spot many of these blossoming up on the route.

We worked off lunch by walking the town so we thought we’d stop and do what we think a lot of RAGBRAI visitors will be partaking in. A couple coldies at the local tap. And wouldn’t you know….we found a place!

Then, we went back to our campsite and started to get ready for the evening. Our new friends, Chet and Loring, stopped by to see how we were doing and how the day went for us. They also invited us to a gathering atop of the hill in the same campground. We were met by more of the areas citizens who couldn’t wait for RAGBRAI and welcomed The Iowa Gallivant with the kind of hospitality that you can only find in small town Iowa. Many of the folks that we met were members of the local Rotary Club who will have their army of volunteers assisting with Leon’s big day in July. They made us feel like part of the Leon family and this is why RAGBRAI focuses on communities like Leon.

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Join us for a potluck they said….there’s going to be cake they said. And homemade lemon ice cream! Iowa hospitality at its very definition.

The Little River Lake was calling and we did what RAGBRAI riders do best. Relaaaaaax…..Leon provided just that very opportunity for us. The lake still had a few anglers competing in the weekly Bass tournaments. There were several folks fishing for Walleye, Crappie, and Bluegill. Little River Lake is known for being the premier spot for Walleye and visitors near are campsite came from all around Iowa, Missouri, and some from Nebraska and Illinois.

A “little” wine…and a thorough beat down in rummy at the hands of my sneaky wife.  Add a nice fire, we were officially ready to turn in for the night on the Lakeside. The grounds, lake, cabins, bathrooms, and shelters were well managed and well kept. All of this made for an exccedingly comfortable stay at the rec area.

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Goodnight, Leon….Goodnight, moon. Goodnight, funny cycling guy doing wheelie over the moon….

The night was absolutely perfect. We fell asleep with sounds of fish jumping in the water and the normal stirs of nature on a quiet Iowa lake. Sleep mode successful….

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Good morning, Leon! One of Iowa’s best opportunities to capture the sunrise is at Little River Lake. Stunning!

Overnight #4 is in good hands. They are busy prepping and showed The Iowa Gallivant how proud they are of Leon. The town square will be rocking with vendors and music while RAGBRAI showcases yet another gem of Iowa’s treasure trove of small towns. The lake was peaceful and provided for an experience we look forward to seeing again. Put Leon on your road trip bucket list and take in this southern Iowa land. Have fun, Leon!

And now a huge thank you to some great folks….

Leon Chamber
To Shannon Erb who coordinated our trip. You and your crew at the Leon Chamber of Commerce did a great job!
leon rag
To all of those on the executive committee that are making RAGBRAI-Leon  happen. Thank you to Loring, Corey, and Chet for taking your time to meet with us. We’ll see you again!
Little river
To Rich Erke and all who manage the Little River Recreation Area. You provided a perfect campsite and the entire experience was just what we needed.

Please take time to visit….

rag 2016
RAGBRAI XLIV

9 thoughts on “Scouting RAGBRAI 2016: Lakeside in Leon

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