2019 RAGBRAI

California friends riding RAGBRAI for first time: ‘It’s good to experience the heartland of America’

The free corn on the cob was so good that the California friends sneaked back in line for another piece.

Sonja Maier, 69, of Roseville, California, and Mickey Ask, 69, of Loma Linda, California, are riding the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa for the first time this week.

They’ve done races around Lake Tahoe and Big Bend, and Ask, who on Sunday evening was wearing a 2017 New York Marathon shirt, once cycled in Race Across America.

But this is the first time the high school friends are “experiencing” Iowa.

It’s been chillier than they expected, Ask said with a chuckle. And rainier, Maier added.

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“I just couldn’t get enough of the beauty around here, the rolling hills and the gorgeous homes and yards,” Maier said.

Don’t forget the streams and birds, Ask added. Plus, it’s well-organized and everyone’s friendly.

“It’s good to experience the heartland of America,” Ask said.

Maier’s friend in Chicago who has twice done RAGBRAI recommended she get her hands on some Iowa pie.

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So the California friends on Sunday grabbed a slice of rhubarb, then went back for a piece of peach.

What makes RAGBRAI “more doable” is that this is a tour, not a race, Maier said.

Some people will always be finished by noon, she said.

“But for the most part, people were just chugging along, all sizes, all ages,” Maier said. “It’s just phenomenal.”

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