GOWRIE - Fireworks, a carnival, and a parade are all traditional July 4 festivities. But in Gowrie, so is a 40-mile bike ride.
This is the 13th annual Firecracker 40 bike ride, put on by the Gowrie Jaycees group and organized by Doug Johnson.
"We will have about 300-plus people, depending on the weather," Johnson said. "We'll run it rain or shine. We've never been rained out."
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Jordon and Sam Adams ride with their children Wyatt and Bryce Adams along Main Street in Gowrie, part of the route for the Firecracker 40. Sam and Jordon have ridden the annual bike ride before. They aren’t sure if they’ll take the kids or not this year, but Jordon said Wyatt and Bryce might ride part of it.
The ride begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Prairie View Barbecue Thief. It travels west to Farnhamville, north on County Road P21 to County Road D46, then east past Slifer to Callender. From there it runs north on P33 to Moorland, and back south through Callender again to Gowrie.
"We try to stay off state highways," Johnson said.
Registration is from 8 to 9 a.m. Saturday. To register earlier or for more information, call 544-3756 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Cost is $25; this includes a Firecracker 40 T-shirt, dinner at the Barbecue Thief, and use of the sag wagon. The wagon is for those who break down, or can't make it the whole way, Johnson said.
Not many of the bikers end up on the wagon.
"They just pick up one or two and take them back to the start, or drop them off at the next location, and they'll have family or friends come and get them," he said. "It depends on the weather, if it's a high windy day they may pick up 15 at the most."
"We've got some pretty good stops along the way," he added, which include Tony's restaurant in Farnhamville and Ralph's Tap in Moorland. Riders can also play volleyball in Slifer, and visit a Fun in the Park event and 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Callender.
The event, put on by the Callender CARE group, will begin at 10 a.m. with a ribbon cutting for the new basketball court at the Callender City Park. There will be a dunk tank, the Bouncy Thing, volleyball, music and food.
Brooke Hendrickson said this is the second year CARE has done a Firecracker 40 stop; some people do stop from the ride and enjoy the attractions.
"Some of them, the kids stay there while the parents go on to Moorland, because the stop in Callender is twice," Hendrickson said.
The basketball tournament will begin at 10:30 a.m. Registration is $20 and is due by Monday. Contact email@example.com or 408-6643 to register. There will be four age divisions, from third grade up to high school.
Johnson said he started the Firecracker 40 when he and another friend were coming back from RAGBRAI one year, and decided it would be fun to do something like that in this area.
"A lot of people come to train for RAGBRAI," he said. "Some even ride the route twice. They want the extra training."
People from Des Moines, Ames, Council Bluffs, and even Minnesota come to the ride, Johnson said, ranging in age from kids up to 70 or 80 years old.
Cecilia Redman, age 7, will ride in the Firecracker for the third time this year.
"She went on it first when she was 4," said her mother, Gayle Redman. "She went six miles with training wheels."
How far will she make it this year?
"All the farther I can go," Gayle Redman said. "She would go farther, I'm sure."
Cecilia said she will ride the whole route. She likes the event because it's the only time she gets to ride on the highway.
Riders under age 14 must be accompanied by an adult.