HOSTING RAGBRAI: Volunteers House Bikers

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It’s hard to believe this Des Moines guest house was once a barn. Dana Ericson says, “This was a falling down carriage house. Literally, dirt floors, hay loft upstairs.”

But Tom Ericson’s love for antiques turned this nightmare into a project. Tom says, “I always wanted to be an antique art dealer so this was sort of my dream.”

It’s been used as a playhouse, home office, and resource center for activists. Tom says, “It’s a multipurpose barn I think you would say.”

This week it’s an Inn for RAGBRAI bikers. Dana says, “I think the RAGBRAI event is wonderful for the state of Iowa.”

The room and board saves bikers a few extra hundred dollars but the Ericsons say it’s the friendships they create by opening their doors to strangers that’s priceless. Housing coordinator Margie Flowers says, “For some people that’s as much a RAGBRAI experience as actually getting on the bike and riding. Is the people that they get to know.”

While the guest house has a kitchen and outdoor pool, the Ericsons say the simple necessities will likely matter most for these rugged riders.