The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

RAGBRAI history

The Great Six-Day Bicycle Ride, Aug 26-31, 1973.
John Karass suggested Don Kaul ride his bike across Iowa and report on what he saw. Kaul said he would do it but, Karrass had to do it too. About 300 showed up at the start, 144 made the entire way. about 500 road the day from Ames to Des Moines. Only arrangements that they made were motel rooms for Kaul, Karrass and Don Benson, the Registers public relations director. and no one had driven the route beforehand.

9 Replies

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jwsknk, February 18, 2013 at 8:59 am


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jwsknk, February 18, 2013 at 9:02 am


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jwsknk, February 18, 2013 at 9:03 am


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jwsknk, February 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

SAGBRAI, Aug 4-10, 1974. About 2700 arrived in Council Bluffs, this time the Iowa Highway patrol was involved along with the addition of a sag service, baggage transport and medical aid. And, they drove the route before the ride. About 1700 finished


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knees36, February 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

I wanted to go on that first ride sooooo bad…the riders “overnighted” in Fort Dodge and went on through Coalville the next morning (about three blocks from where we had lived), but I couldn’t even get an hour off work that morning just to ride for a mile or two with you guys on my old Hiawatha single speed balloon tired “beast.” I followed the ride just the same by reading the DM Registers’ daily accounts of that week and for the next seven years of the ride and finally earned enough vacation to go on RAG IX. It was a heavenly experience. (I may be risking spiritual repercussions here.) Cheers.


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jwsknk, February 19, 2013 at 8:05 am

A name is born, apparently the ride isn’t going away after 1 or 2. RAGBRAI III Aug 3-9, 1975. The tradition of tire dipping had already begun, although Karras once said he has no idea how that started, but this year saw them up north so they decided the Big Sioux qualified. About 3,200 set out and 2,400 finished.


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jake d, February 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm

In an article Karras wrote to prepare for SAGBRAI, he announced the ride would start with the traditional tire dipping in the Missouri and end by dipping in the Mississippi. In his book, Karras admits that it was,” pure balderdash”. He made it up as he was writing the article not realizing thousands of riders would follow thru.


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knees36, February 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Thanks so much for sharing that article, Skunky. It brought back many pleasant memories of the earlier RAG’s that I didn’t get to ride but experienced through reading the DM Register instead.


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