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RAGBRAI 2012: The man with a musical plan



Sunday, Jan. 22 (Day 1) — I’m still lusting after the bazooka stereos (see photo below) that some RAGBRAI riders strap onto the backs of their bikes.

They pump deep, rich bass, and I certainly don’t want to lug one of those heavier boom boxes fashioned out of a plastic cooler and towed on a trailer. (The music that spurred me up the hills would be offset by the weight drag.)

So I accosted John Taylor of Des Moines as he rolled into downtown Orange City with his bazooka blaring an oldies crooner playlist — part of the strict schedule apparent from the back of his shirt as a guide to his methodically categorized musical ride.

Taylor even printed separate schedule for A.M. and P.M. riding, with a Beatles brunch at noon — kudos, John — and more upbeat fare to spur on his fellow riders through the oppressive afternoon heat.


Some guy in Tucson, Ariz., sells these bazookas out of his garage for $250 apiece, Taylor said. He added a $60 solar panel to power it. All the songs are chosen and volume adjusted from his tiny iPod within easy reach on his handlebars. (As one of those custom cooler boom boxes rolled by, Taylor cranked his volume for some good-natured sparring.)

Taylor purchased his two-wheeled blaster last year shortly before RAGBRAI and didn’t have a chance to map out a precise playlist. So for the 40th RAGBRAI he spent all year agonizing over his ideal soundtrack.

Taylor, who trains financial advisors for ING in Des Moines, might want to look into a little DJ work on the side.

In contrast to his meticulous musical ways, he’s lost count of how many RAGBRAIs he’s ridden. Maybe 20?

Taylor biked away from me to the tune of the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island.”

RAGBRAI – a perennial tale of a fateful trip if ever there was one.

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