RAGBRAI news team
Fri, Jul 26, 2013 | by Emily SchettlerShare
FREEMONT — Celebrating a 90th birthday is a special milestone.
Celebrating while riding 406 miles across the state of Iowa is an achievement Bette Winthers likely can claim to herself.
The 89-year-old from Salinas, Calif., turns 90 next Wednesday and she is celebrating by riding all seven days of RAGBRAI with her two daughters; Cheryl alongside on the recumbent tandem bike and Valerie as support for the group.
“If you want to keep on your feet and keep doing things, you have to keep moving,” Winthers said. “I’ve been riding a bike all my life.”
She exercises daily and recently completed a 10.6-mile walk and hike in California with a friend she met on RAGBRAI.
Winthers first fell in love with cycling as a “scrawny” child when a neighbor gave her his adult male bike.
“I’d ride as far as I could and then I’d fall down. I’d pick it up and get back on the bike again,” she said. “That’s how I learned.”
Since then, she’s ridden across Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon, but RAGBRAI is the one she keeps coming back to.
“Iowans are so hospitable,” she said. “They open their homes to you, bake you pie, it’s wonderful.”
Winthers began riding RAGBRAI about 30 years ago. She was looking to go on a cycling vacation and learned about the event from her husband’s family in Iowa.
He grew up in Coulter, near Mason City, and served as support along the ride until he died a year and a half ago.
There are still relatives scattered across the state.
Last weekend, they gathered for a family reunion before Winthers and her daughters set out.
“They’re such great people and it’s really wonderful to be able to spend time with them,” Winthers said.
This year, the hills have been a challenge on a heavy bike with only eight gears, said daughter Cheryl Thompson, 54 also of California.
“It’s tough and slow on the hills,” Thompson said. “We’re very pleased to have a flat day.”
Winthers has completed RAGBRAI about 15 times over the past 30 years.
The weather and route this year are tame, compared to years passed, she said.
Winthers recalled one day when the temperature topped 100 degrees. A man rode up next to her at the top of a hill and dumped his water bottle on her head.
“It sure felt good,” she said. The pair rode with him the rest of the week.
From riding her bicycle to organizing neighborhood parties, Winthers loves to stay active, Thompson said. “You never know what’s going to peak her interest next.”
Winthers said she wants to be an inspiration to other cyclists.
“I hope I can show people they can keep going and keep riding,” she said “They don’t have to quit at age 70 or 80. I love bike riding. It’s what gives me energy.”
Here’s a quick look ahead toward Wednesday’s 38-mile ride from Emmetsburg to Forest City
Bicycles make the main appearance during RAGBRAI, but in Forest City, motor homes and recreational vehicles are king.
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Riders gave their best impressions of the pork chop call (check your volume before playing this video),
We set up a camera in Bancroft to create this time-lapse video of RAGBRAI passing through. Take a look:
BANCROFT, Ia. — Some RAGBRAI riders decided to drudge through an extra 26 sweaty miles and conquer the Karras Loop, Tuesday. The loop, which went through Burt and Lone Rock, is ...
This is exactly what it says on the tin. The toilet toss in Burt on the Karras Loop, in slow motion.
The Register's Michael Morain interviewed Matt Bernhard, son of Mr. Pork Chop Paul Bernhard, and Don Gonyea, Scott Horsley and Arnie Seipel of National Public Radio at the meeting town, ...
"We're doing a peppermint aromatherapy spritz to kind of cool people off," said licensed massage therapist Christina Gibbs, owner of Spa-Dee-Dah.
A high pressure system will bring cooler, drier air to central Iowa on Wednesday. RAGBRAI riders can look forward to a much more comfortable ride
Lance Armstrong met riders and the famed Mr. Pork Chop during a RAGBRAI stop in Bancroft on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
Bancroft is the home town of Paul Bernhard, the original Mr. Pork Chop.
The Andorfer family, led by father Gene, 80, uses RAGBRAI as a chance to spend a week together.
We asked RAGBRAI riders about their porkchop from the famous Mr. Pork Chop in Bancroft.
Titonka firefighters hostes a water battle fundraiser with fire hoses Tuesday afternoon.
A time-lapse video shows the flow of bicycles through Bancroft on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
The NPR crew and son-of-Mr.-Pork-Chop Matt Bernhard speak to the Register's Michael Morain.
Riders who took the Karras Loop for a 105-mile day got a special bonus: the toilet toss in Burt. We've slowed the video down for extra fun.
It's been very comfortable, except for being a bit warm when it's 100 degrees out.
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