ANAMOSA — T-shirts and RAGBRAI go together like July and heat, live music and dancing, beer and good times.
So Anamosa, the final stop (Friday) on this year’s 40th anniversary of the mass bicycle ride across Iowa, has joined other stops this year and in years past with a hot theme and T-shirt design.
"Ride It Like You Stole It" proclaims the slogan around a full-color drawing of a bicyclist in black and white prison stripes riding away from the walls of the Anamosa State Penitentiary despite being handcuffed to a prison guard.
"It was really a join effort from a lot of people," says Dusty Embree, executive director of Jones County Economic Development. "We have a lot of assets in Anamosa."
Among them are being the childhood home of nationally renown artist Grant Wood, the National Motorcycle Museum and a vibrant business district that features a lot of antique stores.
"We thought the prison is a great thing we have and it’s our largest employer," Dusty says. "We just thought it would be fun to play with that."
A contest last March yielded several suggestions, among them "Doing’ Time in Anamosa," "Join Anamosa’s Chain Gang," and "Prison-enting Anamosa."
The winner, submitted by Eli Hunnerdosse who works at Maquoketa Electric, derived from a popular motorcycle T-shirt.
"Ride It Like You Stole It" anchors the prison theme that includes a variety of entertaining games, from "clean the latrine" to a rock climbing wall, with cell blocks (campgrounds), chow halls (where food is available) and paddy wagons (shuttles) around town. Details are on a couple of large maps around town and the city’s website, anamosaragbrai.com.
"Getting a lot of people on board, the right people, was important," says Carla Burge, coordinator of the Anamosa Chamber of Commerce. "We’re excited. That’s why we’re working so hard."
Since RAGBRAI began in 1973, communities along the routes have embraced the city on wheels for the economic impact it brings and the opportunity to showcase what they offer to entice riders to visit again. The town T-shirt themes are one way to make an impression.
In 2005, when Dusty worked for economic development in Estherville, the theme was "Blizzard of Bikes." The term blizzard was first coined around Estherville.
This year’s overnight town themes begin with "It’s Down Hill From Here" in Sioux Center where the ride starts. Cherokee, known for a rodeo, has picked "Saddle Up ‘N’ Ride" as well as "A Bucking Good Time," while Lake View is using "Take a Brake at the Lake" and Webster City has chosen "Fun at the River’s Bend." In Marshalltown a red Solo cup anchors "Proceed to Party" while Cedar Rapids is using the TV show "Survivor" as the basis for "Survivin’ the Ride — Party on the Island." The final day, in Clinton, is "Where the Rubber Meets the River."
Throughout the years there have been some classics, but it can be difficult with online searches to tell them apart from T-shirts designed by retail outlets or those made specifically for teams that ride.
A couple of good ones from last year, however, were "Save a Horse — Ride a Bike" for Glenwood and "Coralville U — Tailgate Tested. Tailgate Approved" for Coralville, while in 2008 Tipton, where the Hardacre Theater holds an annual film festival, they used "Rolling Out the Red Carpet."
It’s that attitude that’s kept RAGBRAI rolling for 40 years.