Monday, July 9, 2012

bicycles blues & bbq


Nic and I made our way up to Mason City/Clear Lake this past weekend for Bicycles, Blues and BBQ - a festival combining three fun activities that everyone can get behind! We of course, were there for mostly the biking part.


Nic took part in a race series called an Omnium, which included a 7 mile time trial, 40 minute criterium and a 45 mile road race.






Pretty sure he enjoyed every minute of it.

He ended up doing really well to! He placed 14th in the time trial, 19th in the criterium, and 11th in the road race. For his first Omnium series, he was pleased with the results.


I was his wheel b*tch and spectator for the weekend.


Except for when I ditched him on Saturday morning for a 62 mile "fun" ride. While it was fun, the resulting sunburn was not. I did slather on loads on sunscreen, just for the record.

I ended up riding with a family for much of the ride and turns out that the son + father were really runners at heart, much like myself, they also used to live in the same city I grew up in, and the wife and I shared similar dreams of becoming vegetable farmers.


We did some other touristing things while there - like a quick walk past the Frank Lloyd Wright house.


And hotel.


But of course, we were mostly interested in finding fun places to eat!

We had an appetizer and drinks at The Quarry - a fun tappas bar in downtown Mason City. We weren't planning on eating, but were both very intrigued by the avocado fries.





And then we made our way across the patio for dinner at Ralph's Garden Cafe.


I've been scoping this place out since I heard a short interview with the owner on Iowa Public Radio a few months back.


It was worth the wait! I ordered a grilled portobello + rice, and dug into the bread basket they brought out. The 'shroom was good, but the oatmeal molasses bread was the star of the show. I asked for the recipe, but sadly was told no. They did offer to bake me a few loaves the next time we dine there if we give them a heads up though!

Earlier on Saturday, I grabbed lunch at the Starboard Market in Clear Lake. Another huge winner! A huge sandwich menu, fresh deli salads, and a large selection of homemade desserts (sadly, none of these looked vegan).


Overall, we had an amazing time. This is a festival we will be putting on our calendar for 2013.

We stayed at the Decker House B&B in Mason City and had a lovely time. The mother + daughter team was great and very accommodating of my vegan breakfast request. Nic and I stayed in the "rose room" which apparently is famous for Bill and Hillary Clinton staying there. I didn't see their names in the guestbook through...


  1. Fun! I had an interview once for a job in the Mason City/Clear Lake area and I thought it looked like such a fun place to live. I could have totally seen myself doing it! Looks like you had a great time!

    1. Clear Lake was such a beautiful place - and their downtown was hoppin' with things to do! I loved it there...

  2. What a fun weekend!

    Is that hotel restored now? Last time I was there it was still be restored. I think :)

    You should enter your awesome tan photo in my tan lines giveaway :)

    1. The hotel is restored! We popped in for just a few minutes for a self guided tour. Would love to stay there at some point.

      A tan line giveaway?! Hands down, it can't get worse than my back!!

  3. What a fun time in that area of Iowa! Sadly, the only time I've been there is driving by on the interstate heading north or south. Love the small restaurants/cafe's they have!

  4. Hi Guys,

    You were less than 1 mile from our house in Mason City. Next time we'll make it a point to have you over. Glad you like CLear Lake. out of 52 weekends, 31 weekends have events! A great party & outdoor town!

    Tim Coffey