RAGBRAI LI Day Passes are still available!

Reply To: Day 6, Grinnell to Coralville

“Bicycle Bill”, February 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Gypsy Rose said:

Zinger said:

Gypsy Rose said:
So, I’m not far off the mark when I describe RAGBRAI to friends as a form of rolling Woodstock.

~ Kevin

I read a lot of hype from noncyclists bashing RAGBRAI for being a big drunken orgy that leaves a path of destruction in its wake. I’m sure that’s how some people described Woodstock. What I have found is that the worst of the drunken stupidness is often performed by the townies. We riders have a good time, watch out for each other, and are generally pretty considerate and thoughtful. That said, you can usually find whatever type of entertainment you want. It took me 5 RAGBRAI’s before I saw a naked beer slide and one was definitely enough!!

When I think of Woodstock, I recall the images of a sea of humanity, including those who rollicked in the mud during and after the heavy rains (with and without clothes), turning the muddy slopes into massive slides for play.

For me, Woodstock represents the iconic gathering of the masses for the purpose of enjoying good times together. RAGBRAI represents a similar theme yet, instead of being stationary for a number of days with music as the central focus, RAGBRAI moves every day and is centered around the bicycle. The participants come from all walks of life. Their reasons for being drawn to the event are as varied as their numbers, but collectively they represent one of the greatest annual gatherings ever conceived.

Yep, I guess there will always be those who view Woodstock as a mass of writhing bodies engaged is an orgy of unprecedented proportions with destruction in its wake. But, I would venture to guess that there are greater numbers who remember it as a wonderful celebration of the joys of humanity at a grand scale.

That’s the connection that I make between that iconic rock concert called Woodstock and the annual celebration of RAGBRAI.

~ Kevin

They did not, however, attempt to repeat Woodstock year after year after year.  And the couple of times they did (1994 and 1999), it never lived up to the hype.

Maybe that’s why I’m so passionate in some of my views of RAGBRAI.  I wasn’t on the first or second, or even the third, but I did come along early enough to remember the simplicity of the event instead of the traveling circus that RAGBRAI has become.  We didn’t have things like “Bubba’s Pampered Pedallers”, corporate sponsors like Miller Beer, or licensing agreements as to who could offer what and to whom.  In fact, if someone on the side of the road waved you over and offered you a cold bottle of brewski on a hot day, like happened right downtown in Rising Sun back in 1979, you didn’t have the ISP or the Register’s ‘Party Patrol’ coming down on them like Carrie Nation with her hatchet.

We were small enough that we could put all of RAGBRAI in a city park or a high-school athletic field.  We didn’t need some professional traveling food service from North Carolina to show up and feed us, or some expensive band to show up and entertain us; the locals took care of that.  And they were happy to do that; we were guests in their town and they took pains to show themselves off to us; not like it is now where the mindset seems to be separate us from as much money as possible in a 24-hour period.

We also didn’t need what seems to be the largest gathering of converted school buses in North America or a rally of the Good Sam RV club as support.  We put up with some of the inconveniences like sleeping in a tent, accepting the vagarities of the weather.  We didn’t need 600-thread count sheets, air conditioning, personal masseuses or mechanics, and all the rest of the claptrap that has turned RAGBRAI into something other than the simple bicycle ride it started out as.

And do you what?  WE STILL HAD FUN ANYWAY!!!!!

Yes, I remember the good old days, and I still wish — no doubt in vain — that we could somehow return the ride to its roots.


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