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.”
Do you think you can pick the eight overnight towns for RAGBRAI XLIII? Enter the contest and see how close you come. Last year, 6 of 8 towns was the best ...
We are pleased to introduce the official 2015 RAGBRAI XLIII jersey!
We are excited to reveal our new logo for RAGBRAI XLIII and 2015!
All of us here at RAGBRAI would like to thank those who took the time to complete the surveys after RAGBRAI XLII. 4,470 online surveys were completed, providing ...
A section of the popular Great Western Trail in Des Moines would no longer pass through Willow Creek Golf Course, under a plan being pursued by the course's owner.
Did you get home from RAGBRAI with less than what you started with? Lost wallets, drivers licenses, and credit cards have already been returned to their owners. We have several ...
Want to return or exchange an item you purchased on RAGBRAI? Here's how.
Riders handed her cash from spandex pockets and small-town American Legions put up tip jars to help along the way. So far, Hameister’s raised more than $1,700 for the campaign, ...
by John Karras, Grampa RAGBRAI A strange, but predictable, thing happened this year to Ann and I on our way to our umpteenth time to ride RAGBRAI–we were physically unable to ...
The children of the RAGBRAI XLII overnight communities were invited to participate in the annual RAGBRAI Kids’ Art Contest. The contest called for students in kindergarten through fifth grade to ...
We are excited to reveal our new logo for RAGBRAI XLIII and 2015! If you join us on our ride across the state next year, you’ll be sure to see welcoming Iowans, lots of farmland and… well you’ll just have to watch the video to find out.
Bicyclist Shawn Gosch of Onawa was hit and killed June 20, 2014, by a motorist on Iowa Highway 7 west of Manson. Under Iowa law, the driver of the vehicle was charged with a misdemeanor for unsafe passing and fined little more than $1,550.
Look back on the ride of 2014 in this video highlight reel.
A group of friends from Canada spent the week on RAGBRAI and recount their best moments.
As RAGBRAI XLII comes to an end, friends from California talk about the emotion behind dipping their tires into the Mississippi River at the end of the ride.
Riders react at the Guttenberg dip site.
Riders stopped for photos on a bluff overlooking the mighty Mississippi River at Guttenberg.
Iowan "Bachelorette" competitor Chris Soules greets riders in Strawberry Point
Former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL tight end Dallas Clark talks about his second RAGBRAI and his hope of someday moving his family back to Iowa.
The LeBeaus are known as royalty in Iowa and for their funky socks!
Find us socially
Sign up for the latest RAGBRAI news and notes (if there is no news in a day, you won’t get an e-mail).