RAGBRAI XLV Countdown – July 23-29, 2017
Friends of RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI news team

California woman celebrates 90th birthday on RAGBRAI



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.”

2 Responses on “California woman celebrates 90th birthday on RAGBRAI

Jean Cook

July 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

We are inspired by an 89 year old woman to bike RAGBRAI. My husband and I are planning for this next summer, and are only in our 60’s. We hope we can do it !
We are more hopeful now.

download here

November 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

It’s rather a awesome in addition to handy bit of facts. We’re pleased that you just contributed this handy data along with us. Be sure to keep us up to date this way. Thank you for giving.

Leave a Reply

Latest Blog Posts

  • Top Ten Tips for RAGBRAI:  #2 Long Live Long Rides

    The second installment of my top 10 tips for RAGBRAI training is the most simple and basic. Ride your bike. Then repeat (almost daily).

  • Top Ten Training Tips for RAGBRAI:  #1 Riding Safely

    This year I am going to focus my training blogs on 10 important topics for preparing well for RAGBRAI. These are based on questions and comments I have received ...

  • Final Days to Register for RAGBRAI Week-long Riders

    The deadline for online week-long registration is Saturday, April 1. You must have your entry submitted and payment made by April 1, don’t wait until after the lottery to submit ...

  • A Reminder About RAGBRAI Registration

    The deadline for online week-long registration is Saturday, April 1. You must have your entry submitted and payment made by April 1, don’t wait until after the lottery to submit your ...

  • RAGBRAI Training: RAGBRAI is Coming, Let's Get Ready!

    Once again, Coach David Ertl will be providing training tips for you to use and follow as you prepare for your successful trip across Iowa this year. Many people ...

  • RAGBRAI Route: Saturday, July 29 - Waukon to Lansing

    Here is the final daily RAGBRAI route for Saturday from Waukon to Lansing. The entire route will be new RAGBRAI territory as will journey travels 44.8 miles with some ...

  • RAGBRAI Route: Friday, July 28 - Cresco to Waukon

    Here is the complete RAGBRAI route for Friday from Cresco to Waukon. The route travels 60.1 miles as we climb 2,483 feet.

  • RAGBRAI Route: Thursday, July 27 – Charles City to Cresco

    Thursday’s RAGBRAI route from Charles City to Cresco travels just 54.6 miles but we will start to experience some hills as we climb 2,257 feet.

  • RAGBRAI Route: Wednesday, July 26 - Clear Lake to Charles City

    Wednesday’s RAGBRAI route from Clear Lake to Charles City encompasses 57.5 miles and climbs 1290 feet.

  • RAGBRAI Route: Tuesday, July 25 – Algona to Clear Lake

    Here is Tuesday’s complete RAGBRAI route from Algona to Clear Lake. The day’s ride will cover 51.4 miles and just 934 feet of climb.

Latest Videos

  • The full 2017 RAGBRAI route is out. Watch this video for a detailed look.

  • Take a closer look at where the 2017 RAGBRAI route will go.

  • T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI director, talks about the 2017 route after the announcement on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

  • Watch a replay of the full RAGBRAI route announcement live show.

  • A RAGBRAI icon Paul Bernhard aka \u0022Mr. Pork Chop\u0022 passed away November, 2016 and RAGBRAI Nation shared photos with Mr. Pork Chop on the ride through the years.

  • The Bacoon Ride returns for its fourth year on the Raccoon River Trail on Saturday, June 17.

  • From the creators of the Bacoon Ride comes the new ride for women, Pigtails at the Prairie Trail on Saturday, May 20.

  • RAGBRAI director TJ Juskiewicz announces the overnight towns for RAGBRAI 2017.

  • The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa will go north in 2017, starting in Orange City, ending in Lansing, and overnighting in six more Iowa towns along the way. It's rated the third-easiest RAGBRAI ever.

  • Attendees at the RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party joined in a mass \u0022pork chop\u0022 call in honor of ride legend Mr. Pork Chop, Paul Bernhard, who died last year.

Find us socially

Email Signup

Sign up for the latest RAGBRAI news and notes (if there is no news in a day, you won’t get an e-mail).

© 2017 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy