By Molly Moser
Bicycles began rolling down River Park Drive by 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, filling Guttenberg’s restaurants, streets, and parks with energy from thousands of visitors. Those at the south marina celebrated victory and, in some cases, relief, while another group of travelers were just beginning their journey near the north docks.
The Great River Rumble, active since 1995 and headquartered in Dubuque, began a weeklong canoe and kayak trip on the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers on Sunday. Some spent Friday evening in Guttenberg, and many loaded their vessels onto trailers before heading north by automobile at noon on Saturday. The Rumblers began their river voyage in Prairie du Sac, Wis., on Sunday morning, and are expected to arrive in Guttenberg around noon this Saturday.
As if a 431-mile bike ride or a seven-day paddle down two major rivers isn’t challenge enough, some adventurers do both. “We often have a few who get on board with us after riding RAGBRAI,” said Rumble leader Rex Klein. With the bike ride ending in the same town where paddlers boarded shuttles to their start location, several cyclists went straight from pedals to oars.
Anticipation of the journey ahead kept the paddlers calm and the north end of Guttenberg fairly quiet. Meanwhile, the mood on the city’s opposite end was one of simultaneous exuberance and reflection. Amidst live music, local food vendors, and cheerful socialization, riders were encouraged to share their stories in notebooks scattered around the community.