• Wed February 25 2009
  • Posted Feb 24, 2009
By Bob Kling I received a package in the mail from Dr. Ken Hebron, former Indianola optometrist, in response to my column about Clarence Pickard’s influence on RAGBRAI. As most of you know, Pickard of Indianola rode the first RAGBRAI back in 1973. At age 83 he had a girl’s Schwinn bike with balloon tires and wore wool underwear, a long sleeved shirt and a silver pith helmet. It was Pickard’s riding across this state that encouraged others to do so and was truly instrumental in making this ride what it is today. I opened the package and there was a hand-carved wooden peg about six inches in length and tapered from one inch to a half-inch at its opposite end. Dr. Hebron’s enclosed letter said that he thought I might like one of Clarence Pickard’s wooden pegs. Clarence had used these wooden pegs to attach his barn rafters together when building his dairy barn, a common practice known as timber frame or post and beam construction, used when building large structures. Advertisement Quantcast Hebron said he was there when one of his patients was hired by Clarence to tear down the old barn years later and this was one of those wooden pegs. “Shortly before his death,” Hebron said, “He came to my office because he failed his driver’s license eye test. He had never had an eye exam. I refracted him and filled out his form and he got his driver’s license.” In 1982, Clarence was struck and killed by a car while walking across a street in Indianola. The 1983 RAGBRAI was named the Clarence Pickard Memorial Ride in his memory. The Des Moines Register designed a commemorative patch in the shape of the pith helmet he wore. Hebron went to Clarence’s farm sale and bought his two-wheeled sheep trailer and his wood burning stove from Clarence’s living room. Pickard used the stove to heat his house and when Hebron bought it, he put it in his son’s tree house. When RAGBRAI came through Indianola in 1997, Hebron parked the sheep trailer on the square. The Indianola Chamber of Commerce put signs on it along with an old bike and Hebron said, “It got quite a bit of attention!” The more I hear about Clarence the more I want to know about him. After all, I now have a wooden peg that at one time helped hold up his dairy barn. Simply holding it in my hand makes me want to know more. Do you have Clarence Pickard facts and stories? If so send them to me. It will be fun to share them with Warren County. Since Indianola will be quite the party stop, I’m sure some of you have already been contacted or will be contacted by friends and relatives to have RAGBRAI riders stay with you, camp in your yard or use your showers. There will be a lot more people seeking out places to stay in the next few months. If you plan on having any unusual RAGBRAI guests, perhaps out-of-staters, riders from other countries (or planets) or maybe just plain riders with interesting stories to tell, contact me. It may be something we want to share with everyone. I’m sure we’ll have stories that will last us for years to come! Bob Kling is a regular columnist for the RHT and an Indianola resident. His e-mail address is

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