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

  • A big thanks to nuun hydration for supporting RAGBRAI

    A big thanks to nuun for supporting RAGBRAI and keeping riders hydrated this summer!

  • Thank you to TransIowa Equipment

    Thank you to TransIowa Equipment for helping keep the #RAGBRAI towns clean every day!

  • Thanks Jamis!

    Just wanted to thank Jamis Bikes for supporting #RAGBRAI this summer. This is the 3rd year Jamis has brought a fleet of bikes to Iowa.

  • Thanks Bianchi!

    Just wanted to thank Bianchi for their continued support of #RAGBRAI every summer by bringing their demo team to Iowa!

  • RAGBRAI Web Store Now Open!

    The RAGBRAI Web Store is NOW OPEN!

  • RAGBRAI Training: Now that RAGBRAI is Over for Another Year, What Should You Do?

    Well, RAGBRAI came and went, and I hope you were well prepared and had a great time. Hopefully you learned something to do better for next year.

  • Adventure Traveler's Video Captures the Essence of RAGBRAI

    Check out this great ‪‎RAGBRAI‬ video from Ryan Van Duzer, who travels the world and creating content aimed at inspiring people to hit the road.

  • Congratulations to the Dream Team on Another Great Year!

    The Dream Team uses the power of a bicycle to assist youth in developing a positive approach to life’s challenges.

  • Congratulations to Grace from Shenandoah for Winning the 2016 RAGBRAI Kid’s Art Contest

    This year’s winner of the RAGBRAI Kid’s Art Contest is 9 year old Grace from Shenandoah. Grace’s artwork depicted the local theme in Shenandoah of “Peace, Love, Ride”

  • Good and bad luck of another unforgettable RAGBRAI

    Amid tragedy and serendipity, you can't make this stuff up.

Latest Videos

  • Take a look back on all the fun moments the Des Moines Register staff captured on video during RAGBRAI 2016.

  • Riders brave the swinging bridge in Columbus Junction.

  • Winds remain out of the northeast for Saturday and with partly sunny skies, highs will hold in the lower 80s. The weekend looks dry for the most part, perfect for those finishing up Ragbrai or maybe heading out to the Indianola Balloon Classic.

  • Omaha-based Team Pump's bus is one of the most colorful, and oldest, team buses currently operating in RAGBRAI.

  • Hal Colliver has been collecting signs since 1973. Its a hobby of his he loves to share with others who often stop by to look at his barn.

  • Teresa Condon and Tracy Henriksen have fun in their infant costumes.

  • Riders take over Wooden Wheel Vineyard

  • The complete century ride, including the Karras Loop, from Leon to Centerville on RAGBRAI 2016.

  • Lyle Dumont has built and rebuilt enough model trains and full size tractors to fill 30,000 square feet of space. Take a look around his collections

  • \u0022The best part of this job is hearing all the thank-yous,\u0022 Iowa State Patrol trooper says.

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).

© 2016 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy