Jay and Kristin Dreyer have a passion for trekking through Manning on two wheels! Since the time their children were young and fit in the back of a bike trailer, they could be found biking to work, to school, the grocery store, and pretty much anywhere they needed to go. It was a family affair. “Spending time outdoors as a family, seeing friends, and getting exercise (all while having fun) is what we love most about Manning,” said Kristin.
The Dreyer’s are teachers at the IKM-Manning school and have a combined 43 years of experience. Kristin teaches 4th grade, while Jay teaches 2nd grade and coaches junior high basketball and high school track. Their children, Quentin, 15, and Eli, 12, both attend IKM-Manning. “I grew up in New Sharon, Iowa and Jay grew up in Colorado and it was our jobs that originally brought us to Manning,” said Kristin. “We didn’t have any family connection to the community.”
“I grew up in small town and knew I wanted to raise my family in a similar community. However, there are so many rural communities that are run-down and look like they’re barely surviving, so we had to be selective,” said Kristin. “Manning is different!”
The Dreyer’s have seen their fair share of small towns. The couple, along with their biking club, The Slo-Mo-Fo’s, have been riding RAGBRAI for the past 3 years and have seen first-hand many communities throughout Iowa.
“Although we’ve seen many small towns, Manning is the ‘best place to call home,’” shared Kristin. “The community is vibrant. Nearly every storefront is full and none are run-down. It’s exciting to see the activity and the support from so many community members. There are young and active families.”
But the couple also knows it’s their responsibility to take care of what the community has to offer. “Jay’s dad grew up in a small town out in Nebraska and he always reminds us that if we want these amenities in our community, then we must support them,” said Kristin. “We love all that Manning has to offer: a hospital, grocery store, school, pharmacy, an assortment of restaurants, and more!
“I don’t want to drive to the city every week to get groceries!” she says. “I want to be able to spend as much time with family and friends as possible, not on the road driving to a store.”
“We have everything we could possibly want, right here in Manning.” Kristin bucks the stigma of small towns, “Sure, some people say that everyone knows everyone’s business. However, we see it differently. Everyone watches out for each other and cares for each other. It can be hard at times because small towns sometimes have their cliques, but you find those people who share your similar interests.”
“We love that we found a core group of people who have similar interests and live in such close proximity to each other,” said Dreyer of their biking group. “For instance, on a random Thursday night, Travis (a neighbor) will be loading up the bikes and holler over at us and say, ‘Jay you want to go?’ and Jay just looks at me like, ‘Can I go? Can I go?’”
Four years ago, when Richard and Nikki Sorensen first found out that Jay liked to ride bike, they invited him along for their Thursday night rides. “They would ride to Templeton, or pack up their bikes and head to Aspinwall, Coon Rapids, Audubon or Dedham.”They love visiting the small towns around Manning and sampling the different restaurants each community has to offer.
The couple cherishes all of the memories they’ve made through their biking group and love to reminisce about the people they’ve met and the places they’ve stayed! Although their love for biking began locally, a few years ago the group convinced Jay to ride one day of RAGBRAI and they were hooked. Kristin drove the sag wagon and tended to everyone’s needs. Ever since, the Slo-Mo-Fo’s train all Spring and Summer and look forward to their trek across the state in July.
Last year, Boozer (one of the group’s long-standing friends) passed away and it just wasn’t the same without him. But as Manning always does, the community rallied their support and used the “Trail to Nowhere Ride” as a benefit for his family. “That’s what we love about Manning…everyone is there to support you during the good times and the bad.”
Jay and Kristin’s vision for the future of Manning? “It would be amazing to connect Manning to Manilla, Manning to Carroll or even Manning to the Raccoon Valley Trail coming out of Des Moines,” shared Kristin. “We like to go on longer rides to prepare for RAGBRAI, but the roads aren’t always conducive to a safe ride. Jay likes to ride his bike to Irwin on Sundays, but my biggest fear, though, is that there isn’t much of a shoulder and there are so many blind spots on those hills.”
The couple’s vision may not be as lofty a goal as once believed. A regional trails committee, led by Manning residents, is working with the National Park Service to determine how Manning-area trails could tie into a link between the Des Moines metro trails and the Omaha/Council Bluffs trails. Rumor even has it, that RAGBRAI 2018 may even be travelling through Manning!