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.”
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 ...
Well, another RAGBRAI is done and in the books. I hope you enjoyed yourself and I also hope this blogs gave you some advice that helped you prepare adequately for ...
After 42 years, each ride can seem pretty much like the one before -- except when they don't.
How to make the boy understand and simultaneously stay better connected with him throughout the week? Eureka! The universal, ageless antidote for the doldrums: Legos.
RAGBRAI has a reputation for being awash in light beer from corporate breweries. Yet more craft brewers are training palates at the state's biggest rolling party.
This was only my fourth time on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, and yet I struggle to conjure an appropriate description of this bizarre, beloved pilgrimage that ...
Dave and Kathi Dibbern perched themselves on a tree stump Saturday in Garber, the final pass-through town before RAGBRAI’s finish line in Guttenberg. They ride a tandem bicycle. And they’re unafraid ...
Riders react at the Guttenberg dip site.
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!
Jason Pardie, of Muscatine, is participating in his sixth RAGBRAI on a unicycle.
The LeBeaus are known as royalty on RAGBRAI and for their funky socks.
A Dutch woman describes the differences of biking in the Netherlands and biking in Iowa.
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).