RAGBRAI news team
| by Josh HafnerShare
The Regulators, a team of 20 RAGBRAI cyclists, have a motto: “You ride your ride. I’ll ride mine.”
At 2:30 p.m., four hours after cyclists began trickling into the day’s last town of Cedar Rapids, the Regulators were laughing, dancing and generally shooting the bull under a beer tent in Garrison, an early town on the route. They were in no rush.
“There’s no medal at the end. Nobody’s getting a yellow jersey,” team member Amber Duggan said of RAGBRAI.
There’s as many different philosophies to approaching RAGBRAI as there are riders, but two stick out: Rush through the ride like it’s Tour de Iowa, or crack open a beer at each water tower and take it all in.
The hares call adherents to the latter philosophy stragglers, more into pints or pie than pedals. But the tortoises say they’re doing RAGBRAI right.
Duggan, a Davenport hair-dresser, first rode RAGBRAI eight years ago with her family. They finished the route early, showered and soaked in only the day’s last town.
Then, a few years ago, she got wrangled by the Regulators.
“They actually stole me away from my family, and now I ride with them,” she said.
The team stops at every beer garden in every town. Members meet locals. They talk with other teams. They take their time.
Once, the Regulators didn’t roll into an overnight town until 11 p.m., about when the town’s entertainment wrapped up. Wednesday they stayed in a town well after other cyclists and the state troopers paid to guard the route left. An overstocked vendor gave them a load of leftover cookies.
Make no mistake: Duggan and company know how to ride bikes. They’ve zoomed past me several times this week at a respectable clip. It’s the towns that slow them down. The beer, specifically.
“I found a team that rides hard and has a good time at the beer garden, too,” said Duggan. “It’s a perfect balance.”
Duggan’s dad still rides RAGBRAI and still gets into towns far earlier than most riders, she said. But he told her recently that he doesn’t always notice what Iowa looks like between the towns.
But the term “slow poke” is relative, Duggan said.
“When Team Spin gets to a town you’re in, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s not good. I should get on my bike,’” she said.
Elizabeth Pogge, a cyclist and pharmacist from Pheonix, agrees.
“If Team Spin or the Killer Bees pass us, we’re going too slow,” she said at bloody mary and mimosa bar in Clutier.
Still, Pogge stops for each town and roadside home’s Slip ‘N Slide on the route.
“Our RAGBRAI philosophy is that we don’t want to get into town too early,” she said. “We have no more than one beer in each town, or else we won’t make it to the end.”
Paul Rehmke, 56, has ridden so many RAGBRAI’s he actually lost count. Somewhere between 15 and 20, he says. But all those miles across Iowa have convinced him of one thing.
“RAGBRAI is not a race, it’s a ride. To enjoy every little community and every little beer garden,” he said.
However, Rehmke said, limits should be set: “Whenever the fine law enforcement of Iowa kick you out of the beer tent is probably when we leave.”
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