A few years ago Facebook enabled a re-connection with Chuck, a guy who grew up in my neighborhood and I had known since kindergarten. I have truly enjoyed our conversations in the past couple of years, visiting him in when we were in Chicago and him spending one weekend with us while on a nearby work assignment.
While not someone who has been focused on building and maintaining “body beautiful” something about RAGBRAI, Iowa’s cross-state bicycle ride, caught his attention and he participated last summer. An annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state organized by the Des Moines Register, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world. This year was the 40th annual ride and Chuck was there again.
You may say sure, a state like Iowa is flat so no big deal. It is not completely flat and while the overall west-to-east route is downhill, you can see there are plenty of ups and downs. As you can see, the hills produce a lot of walkers. But before you scoff, you consider peddling 471 miles in the heat of a MidWest summer.
Participation is limited to 8500 week-long riders and a lottery is necessary since the ride attracts more people. Baggage trucks are provided, official bike repair stations are located along the route and there are designated camping areas. Chuck had a crew with an RV this year, something he enjoyed immensely because of the air conditioning.
Towns along the route prepare to welcome the riders and support crews with all kinds of food and drink as well as other amenities. Mr. Pork Chop prepares a tender pork chop that Chuck reports is huge.Riders can start at 6a.m. and many did since the temperatures soared over 100 and the headwinds increased as the day continued.
Other bike touring events are available around the country. Consider what YOU can do.