RAGBRAI news team
Fri, Jul 20, 2012 | by Des Moines RegisterShare
By James Heggen
Who are the thousands of people massing today in northwestern Iowa to traverse the state on bicycles?
In part, they are honeymooners, Iowans coming home, Iowans saying goodbye, travelers with sights set on longer journeys, and a legally blind man.
Meet some of the cast for the 40th Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa:
HEADING OUT: Jon Finley, soon to be of San Francisco, is starting his first RAGBRAI. Finley grew up in Lake City, went to Grinnell College, left the state for 10 years, and then came back for his graduate degree at the University of Iowa. He and his partner are moving on Aug. 1.
“It’s kind of our last hurrah to say goodbye to Iowa before we move to California,” he said.
COMING BACK: Thomas Baxter lives near Polokwane, South Africa, and is originally from Royal, Ia. According to information in his RAGBRAI application, he is a “monk/priest/missionary” in South Africa and is making the ride with several family members “after being the one to lay down the challenge for the 40 Ann Ride in this, my 60th year.” (From the application)
BLIND MAN: James Hart, 50, of Cheyenne, Wyo., has family in southwest Iowa. The government says he’s been legally blind since birth, but he has some vision and has ridden a bicycle for years. “Since RAGBRAI is 40, I decided this year would be a good year to ride it,” he said.
TRAINING GUY: Sean Havins, 50, of Loveland, Colo., will be among the few pedalers in a velomobile, a recumbent-like human-powered enclosed vehicle. He said it’s a preparation for his planned velomobile tour next year in Europe: 2,500 kilometers in 22 days through five countries. RAGBRAI is “basically a training ride,” he said.
FOR A BUDDY: Dave Shearer, 52, of Cedar Park, Texas, rode RAGBRAI 18 years ago, but he has another link to the ride’s beginnings. He was friends at Perkins Elementary School in Des Moines with the son of RAGBRAI co-founder Donald Kaul, an outspoken former Des Moines Register columnist. Shearer’s father, though, didn’t want Shearer hanging out with “that long-haired kid” and his “hippie dad.” This year, Shearer is riding as a dedication to a friend he rode across Iowa with in 1994 who just had surgery.
NEWLYWEDS: Kate Fleetwood, 34, of Davenport was married June 30 to Martin Fleetwood. And Martin is very passionate about cycling, so “we decided our honeymoon this year was going to be RAGBRAI,” she said. Kate and Martin’s daughter will be providing the vehicle support; Martin will be on two wheels. And they’ll be camping with friends. But Kate and Martin will get their own tent. It is their honeymoon.
WHAT’S HAPPENING SATURDAY
Close to 10,000 officially entered riders will congregate in Sioux Center. Professional stunt cyclist Chris Clark will perform at 2, 4 and 6 p.m. at the RAGBRAI Expo, where gear will be for sale. And a stage near the Sioux County Fairgrounds will have live music during the evening. The first local treats available come from Casey’s Bakery and Olivia’s Bakery in Sioux Center.
- TULIP FESTIVAL: Orange City is planning a mini version of the usual May celebration of the town’s Dutch heritage.
- GARDEN GATE: A bright red 1944 barn at Granville is a gift and specialty shop full of treasures, including quilt ladders, hutches, framed prints and other favorite country items.
- BIOFUELS: A trailer in Marcus will have exhibits on biofuels, and representatives of the Renewable Fuel Association will answer questions about production and use in Iowa.
FOLLOW RAGBRAI THIS WEEK
- Register reporters and photographers will be part of the migration that is the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, chronicling the personalities and sights of the 40th-anniversary ride.
- TWITTER: Ride updates — including weather forecasts — will be posted by @RAGBRAI_IOWA. Join in the conversation using #ragbrai. Or, talk to Register bicyclists Kyle Munson (@kylemunson) and Josh Hafner (@joshhafner).
- FACEBOOK: Become a fan of RAGBRAI at facebook.com/RAGBRAI.
- TEXT ALERTS: Get messages about the weather and other news after signing up at RAGBRAI.com.
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