RAGBRAI XLIII Countdown – July 19-25, 2015
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RAGBRAI Reflections with John Karras



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 ride it(we had a paltry 49 miles of training on out legs). It wasn’t the biggest disappointment of our 63-plus years of marriage, but it sure was up there in the top 20.

The onlyRAGBRAI moments we had were while stationed on the Karras Loop where Ann and Carol Molhandorf handed out Loop patches and I hugged the sweaty young ladies who wanted pictures taken with me. Not the hardest duty in the world

Another lesson from our RAGBRAI debacle: Preparation on a stationary bicycle does not transfer to the road, at least not the way I did it this year. I had 45 hours on the trainer here at Scottish Rite Park, but when we went out on the road we found ourselves worn out in under 10 miles. I believe that 45 hours of road miles would have gotten me ready for RAGBRAI. I haven’t felt this dumb or disappointed in myself in at least 10 years.

And apropos of nothing, it occurred to me recently that I’m perhaps the only one at Scottish Rite Park who thinks of a sweatshirt as a fashion statement.

John Karras is the co-founder of RAGBRAI

30 Responses on “RAGBRAI Reflections with John Karras

Don Clasen

July 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Hey. John–I’ve had the same problem lately, But these 83-year-old bones will get over it. I’ve pretty well given up my walks along the beach this summer. The old bod won’t move some days. But, like the Dodgers of old, I’ll expect to do better next year. You have certainly achieved greatness with RAGBRAI since those days on the copy nesk. Say hello to Ann.
Don Clasen
Chicago

Jason Hunter

July 31, 2014 at 10:52 pm

John,

Don’t feel bad. At least you tried. Keep trying! Don’t give up! Just get on your bike and ride as often as you can. Being married 63 years, congratulations by the way, I’m guessing your retired so time is on both your sides. You had 49 miles of experience. Gradually work your way up so you are doing 49 miles a weekend. Ideally to do the ride well you should be able to ride about half the distance a day for five days. So for example this year Ragbrai was 418 miles. You should try to do half in about 5 days. Not right now, build yourself up. If you can get yourself up to do that, I think you will do fine by the next Ragbrai. Yeah! Now we have a year to train till the next Ragbrai. The more you find yourself on the bike I think the healthier and happier you will be. You’ll have a healthier higher quality of life and be able to kick some meds good bye, if your on any that is. The human body is capable of miraculous things. This is true whether your 10 years old or 90. But in order for our bodies to change it has to first start with our thinking. The poorer health we are in the greater the challenge, but the reward is oh so great! You have the potential to turn Ragbrai from your top 20 disappointments into your top 20 achievements. I believe you can do it, otherwise I would not have written this comment. Although my challenges in just getting to Ragbrai next year are about as big as the challenges you faced this year, if I succeed. I look forward to seeing you next year.

Jason Hunter

July 31, 2014 at 11:35 pm

John,

Don’t feel bad. At least you tried. Keep trying! Don’t give up! Just get on your bike and ride as often as you can. Being married 63 years, congratulations by the way, I’m guessing you’re retired so time is on both your sides. You had 49 miles of experience. Gradually work your way up so you are doing 49 miles a weekend. Ideally to do the ride well you should be able to ride about half the distance a day for five days. So for example this year Ragbrai was 418 miles. You should try to do half in about 5 days. Not right now, build yourself up to it. If you can get yourself up to do that, I think you will do fine by the next Ragbrai.

Yeah! Now we have a year to train till the next Ragbrai. The more you find yourself on the bike I think the healthier and happier you will be. You’ll have a healthier higher quality of life and be able to kick some meds good bye, if you’re on any that is.

The human body is capable of miraculous things. This is true whether your 10 years old or 90. But in order for our bodies to change it has to first start with our thinking. The poorer health we are in the greater the challenge, but the reward is oh so great! You have the potential to turn Ragbrai from your top 20 disappointments into your top 20 achievements.

I believe you can do it, otherwise I would not have written this comment. Although my challenges in just getting to Ragbrai next year are about as big as the challenges you faced this year, if I succeed. I look forward to seeing you next year.

We all have hills we face in life. Some are more difficult than others but they are not unbeatable. When our actions are in line with our desire, a heart, and will we can overcome the greatest of mountains.

Bruce Woods

August 1, 2014 at 12:49 pm

To: John Karras

I persuaded a long-time friend from The Netherlands to ride with me this year. He’s an accomplished rider and only 65; I at 70 had to push some to keep pace with him. He was also fortunate enough to have his picture taken with you at Lone Rock where they gave your patches out. Thanks John! Hundreds of thousands of riders have enjoyed something special because of your efforts and foresight.

Sandaltan

August 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Debacle??? The word hardly applies to a few hours hugging sweaty young ladies. Maybe you have convinced Ann that you didn’t enjoy the hugging but not me. See y’all next year Karras.

RIDE RIGHT

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villierseth

August 7, 2014 at 2:47 am

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villierseth

August 7, 2014 at 2:47 am

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costumecostume

August 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm

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costumecostume

August 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Robert Van Every

August 8, 2014 at 8:57 pm

I am glad you were on the ride. I remember antics of you and Offenberger back in the day. The bloggers who suggest ways to train for rag ride crack me up. YOU wrote the book on how to get ready to ride!!

Ride On! ….(or maybe not. Collecting hugs from the dudettes makes for a Great Ride!)

BURMA SHAVE

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