Food, Fun, And Friendship: The Focus Of One RAGBRAI Team

Team Gourmet celebrates during their overnight stay in Oskaloosa. (photo by Ginger Allsup)

Team Gourmet celebrates during their overnight stay in Oskaloosa. (photo by Ginger Allsup)

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The sea of cycles that rushes over the Iowa landscape each year during RAGBRAI can seem overwhelming, but as many local residents found out, it’s all about those personal encounters that makes it all worthwhile.

Team Gourmet Cycling Group was just one group of many that travels the state each year. A group of friends enjoying each other’s company and making new ones along the way. This was the group’s 19th ride.

The group is based out of Illinois but has members as far away as California.

When you find your way to them, you could be greeted with a booming Scottish accent, and of course a warm smile and a genuine welcome.

The group, who openly welcomes visitors during the ride, has a fun tradition that started some time ago. Each member carries with them a painted wooden spoon, which they must keep on their person at all times. If at any time a member of the team yells out “spoon check” and any other member of the team doesn’t produce their spoon within 5 seconds of the command, then that member becomes a servant, to the one who yelled, for an hour.  You may be “requested” to sing a song, or to dance, or any other creative, fun “punishment” such as shoulder massages, which seem to be the most popular.

Janet Kowal is one of those Team Gourmet riders who landed square at the doorstep of the Milledge home in Oskaloosa. This Chicago area resident, who use to call West Des Moines home, graciously helped us understand more about their family of friends.

Twenty-six riders and the three support staff make up the team. The support staff loads and unloads the trucks, and helps to acquire the fresh ingredients for the chef’s, yes, that is chef’s.

The team brings all the meat with them ahead of time. There are two cube freezers that are trucked around. Things like pork loins, crab legs, chicken, or shrimp are just part of the menu the team serves in the evening. “We’re pretty self contained,” explained Kowal.

At supper time, the group rolls out the proverbial red carpet. The host family and guests are treated to five star dining and lasting memories.

It’s not always the same riders on Team Gourmet every year, there are new additions as well as others that just couldn’t make it. “We are a big family,” Kowal says.

On Friday morning, Team Gourmet and their team packed up and pedaled off towards Fairfield, bidding Oskaloosa good-bye.

Tragically, just days after our interview with Janet Kowal, “she was injured in a bicycle accident near Bentonsport on a rough patch of road on a bridge,” says Team Gourmet’s Oskaloosa guest host Joe Milledge. She was reportedly airlifted to University of Iowa hospitals for treatment.

We at Oskaloosa News wish her a speedy recovery, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and the rest of Team Gourmet.

Posted by on Jul 29 2013. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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