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the passing of Grandpa RAGBRAI, John Karras.

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Grandpa RAGBRAI, John Karras.
“Despite the exponential growth of RAGBRAI, those who’ve been a part of this two-wheeled circus for years say its spirit remains true to the newspapermen’s vision from all the way back in 1973: a week of “cordial, informal, happy insanity,” as Karras himself once wrote.”
We will ride this year, as we do every year, in your honor. Rest in peace John. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/life/living-well/ragbrai/2021/11/10/ragbrai-cofounder-john-karras-dies-91-leaves-national-impact-cycling-obituary-bike-ride-across-iowa/6355534001/?fbclid=IwAR2G5dlI9MszWFQLw43xRKwX26Kuw150MS591XK6wpvOrtLdj1abCvSSBQs

5 Replies

GP_in_SD, November 10, 2021 at 2:21 pm

Wow, that’s sad. Did my first Ragbrai in 1975 and 20+ since then. Even after moving to CA in 1985, Ragbrai was always a good reason to come back to see Iowa and relatives in the dog days of summer.



“Bicycle Bill”, November 10, 2021 at 2:56 pm

I feel that the very least RAGBRAI can do is to immediately announce that the 2023 RAGBRAI be officially designated “The John Karras Memorial Ride” in much the same way they designated RAGBRAI XI as “The Clarence Pickard Memorial Ride”.   It would be even better if they designated this year’s ride, but I recognize that there is probably too much invested in printed shirts, jerseys, and other material to just scrap it all and try to create a sufficient supply in time for July 2022.

Not to mention that if we hold off until 2023, this COVID thing may be well and truly behind us and the ride can be as free-spirited and over-the-top as it was back in the good ol’ days….

However, it is not too late to create a sufficient supply of black wristbands (like the LIVESTRONG bracelets) with the RAGBRAI logo and the initials ‘JK’ on them for this year. It would be even better if every registered rider was given one as part of their registration packet, and non-riders and others who want to show their respects to Grandpa RAGBRAI be able to purchase them for a minimal cost.



Uncle Kraig, November 10, 2021 at 3:25 pm

A sad day for sure and the end of an era with the passing of the final Founding Father. It is now up to all of us and future generations to carry on the ride and the legacy they together started and carried on for nearly 50 years before handing it off to all of us. Let’s make them proud for the next 50! See you all in July to do just that!


T. Gap Woo, November 10, 2021 at 5:20 pm

Mrs Woo and I are deeply saddened to hear the devastating news that Grandpa Ragbrai has passed away. I second the motion that Ragbrai in 2023 be named as the John Karras Memorial Ragbrai. In addition to a black wristband, as suggested by Bicycle Bill, I suggest that the Karras Loop be immediately preceded by the “Karras Mile of Silence”.

To John’s friends and family, may John’s memory be a blessing and bring a smile to your face before a tear comes to your eyes.

Rest In Peace, Grandpa Ragbrai. May the bicycle paths in heaven be smooth and level, with an ever-present tailwind.


Dizzy, November 10, 2021 at 5:41 pm

Glad I took the time to stop by in ’18 to chat w/John, get a pic and talk about Cleveland. His eyes livened as he reminisced about his young days there.

A life well ridden! J


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