They came to Marshalltown from all corners of the nation and beyond. What the thousands of RAGBRAI riders got was some old fashioned Iowa hospitality from locals on the first overnight stop in Marshalltown since 2004.
Tina Shapley, of Marshalltown, made sure the scorching hot temperatures didn't get the best of riders as she sprayed a hose on them on Main Street outside Franklin Elementary School, near the first welcoming area.
"A lot of people like it," Shapley said. "We knew they would be hot."
Consider rider David Thompson of Madison, N.J., a satisfied customer.
"When that spray hit me I'm like, 'thank you,'" he said.
Rider Joel Johnson, of Polk City, said Marshalltown was an oasis of spraying water after a long, hot day on the route from Webster City to Marshalltown.
"That was the best introduction coming into a town that we've had," Johnson said. "There were 50 people squirting us with water. That was awesome."
At the corner of Main and 11th streets an impromptu band set up and started playing as riders rode into town. Featuring patriotic tunes, Cindy Iole played the trumpet, her daughter, Analisa Iole, played the saxophone and Kyle Bartles played the trombone. They were cheered on by the appreciative riders.
"We wanted to welcome the people into town with music," Cindy Iole said.
Marshalltown's hospitality wasn't lost on the riders.
"With all the free water and friendly people I think they did an awesome job," Mary Wherry, of Cresco, said.
Robert Bossman, of Edina, Minn., said he ran into one of the friendliest families he's ever met on Main Street who offered him free beer and food as long as he'd tell them his story.
"Iowa's a great place," Bossman said. "It's great seeing all these little towns. This is what makes America great."
After riders made it into town, most veered off to the three main camp areas in town - Riverview Park, Anson Park and the Central Iowa Fairgrounds - to get set up for the afternoon. Riverview Park hosted thousands of riders as tents popped up throughout the area, including the dog park.
The entire Marshalltown effort wouldn't have been possible without the hundreds of area volunteers. Kevin Hitchins, of Marshalltown, was the volunteer in charge of the food vendor area, but he ended up giving plenty of directions to visitors. He was excited Marshalltown got an overnight stop this year.
"It's really a great thing," Hitchins said. "The exposure the town gets is unbeatable. Everything I've seen is positive."
The riders will wake up Thursday and head through Garwin and several other towns on the way to the next overnight stop in Cedar Rapids.