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RAGBRAI — In the Air!!

Mrs. Woo and I just returned from a visit to Daughter Woo in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since we had a night flight and couldn’t sight-see out the window, I opted to read the October 2017 edition of Delta Sky magazine. There, on page 70, was an article by Jill Rothenberg and Sarah Elbert entitled “The Run, Bike, Swim Bucket List.” The very first item on their list was RAGBRAI. There was a brief description of the ride, with a few inaccuracies (we don’t always start at the Missouri River and the mileage is variable from year to year) that can be cleared up by visiting the RAGBRAI website, which was given in the article.

Maybe this article will push a few more people off the fence and onto the ride.

See you along the I-O-Way in 2018.

4 Replies

KenH, October 18, 2017 at 3:59 pm

I’ve lived next door in Illinois the whole time RAGBRAI has existed save for the first year in Wisconsin and one summer spent on a job assignment in England. I never heard of this ride until 2011 when I told someone who I thought was not a bicycle rider (and it turns out he wasn’t – at the time) that I had just ridden a century and instead of the “what’s a century?” response I expected he said “DUDE, we have got to do RAGBRAI!!” Except that he called it something a little different though similar. What would my life have been like if I had discovered it right after it started by reading about it in an airline magazine? Would I have married an Iowa girl? Would I be designing radio gear in Cedar Rapids? Maybe, who knows? Come to think of it my wife has some claim to being an Iowa girl however brief her sojourn there was. Her family emigrated to Illinois before 1973 however.

Well, it’s nice to hear that people are being exposed to RAGBRAI in unexpected places. I’ve had little success in enticing even avid bicyclists in Illinois to make the short journey across Old Man River, maybe the airline will have more success.


Bob Kidd, October 18, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Ken, I started riding last year and I am amazed at all the bike events I find now that i’m looking for them. It’s like a subculture that you never really hear about until you start to ride. I also wonder what roads my life would have went down if I had started doing this years ago. Can’t go back now so take advantage of what time is left and have a ball!


Luv 2 Ski, October 19, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Great find TGW. Hopefully younger people will try it out and get hooked. The average age is creeping up. Always need new blood in any endeavor to survive.

Ken, I learned about RAGBRAI in the spring of 1999 while watching TV in my house in NJ. I have lived in IL for the past 15 years. I ended up going in 1999 with a bike shop in my area. After going, my bucket list was to get me family to go someday. At the time my wife was pregnant with our first of 2 sons. We brought both up riding tandems from age 3 on. Without attending RAGBRAI I do not think I would have ever known what a child’s stoker kit was for the rear seat of a tandem. It allowed us the freedom to ride and include the kids. Both boys ride to this day. Lucky for me that my oldest has gotten hooked on RAGBRAI after doing his first at age 14 in 2014. After this year he came back in such great riding shape that he decided to join a local bike team and started racing. Even though most of the season was already over he went all in and ended the year on the podium several times and won the last race of the year. I do not think he would have even considered racing if it wasn’t for RAGBRAI. This year he met some people that raced in college as well as others that race as adults. Through them he realized he could be good at it and now he is planning on joining the race team at the college he will attend next year.

I think we all have great stories to tell about how RAGBRAI has influenced our lives for the better. If we can get those on the other side of the fence to come on over we will be able to do this for many years to come.


Ken Reed, October 19, 2017 at 1:46 pm

As a Des Moines kid, I was exposed to RAGBRAI a long time ago. I remember being about 10 years old (I’m 39 now) and going down to the state capitol grounds to see the spectacle. My uncle started a team with some friends in the late 90s (Team Mardi Gras) and in 2000, while I was living back in DSM for a bit, I went up to party with them in Ankeny for their Christmas in July theme (lots and lots of white foam). It wasn’t until 2006 when my uncle asked me to drive their support vehicle, that I had my next RAGBRAI experience. I feel in love. I knew that the next year, I had to be riding and not driving. Since then, I’ve been hooked. I joined a new team in 2014 (Team Hard) and there’s no turning back for me. RAGBRAI XLVI will be my 12th RAGBRAI as a rider as well as my 40th birthday. RAGBRAI is a way of life.


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