Marianne Huebner was among those who wet their rubber in the Missouri River then plunged headlong into the brown current beneath the Plattsmouth Bridge and a line of Nebraska bluffs.
Other riders stayed in Glenwood, the launch town eight miles east via the Loess Hills Scenic Byway, where river water filled large tubs for a more convenient dip site.
“If you’re going to bike across all of Iowa … do it,” Huebner said.
For her the trek to the river followed a 14-hour solo road trip from Charlotte, N.C., Friday to participate for the second time on RAGBRAI
She’s “riding for peaceful change” with Team Alma from Milwaukee. The team is based on a nonprofit by the same name dedicated to fighting domestic abuse.
One member, Floyd Rowell of Milwaukee, jumped in the river despite not knowing how to swim.
“It’s the experience of RAGBRAI,” he said, pointing to a line of Team Air Force riders behind him at the dip site. “If my team couldn’t save me, the Air Force is here.”
Rowell described himself as an assistant shaman, with the title “urban healer riding on the back of wild horse.” He was given the title after completing a manhood initiation process based on American Indian practices.
He said he now dedicates his life to helping others make the transition into adulthood and a healthy self-identity. There’s no shortage of opportunities on RAGBRAI.
“I encourage people to go beyond their self-made limitations by watching me go past mine.”
More than 500 riders had lined up at the dip site by 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Most of them got a wristband in exchange for a donation to the Glenwood baseball and softball club, which was hosting the site.
Video: Missouri River water was also brought to Glenwood for riders