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Why do you RAGBRAI?

21 Replies

Dizzy, December 4, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Watson…I can hear you!


Dizzy, December 4, 2019 at 2:13 pm

A few years after re-starting bicycling as a hobby, I began looking beyond the home turf for opportunities for adventure.
I heard “RAGBRAI…oldest, longest, biggest.” I was immediately sold.
The experience did not fail. It exceeded…5 times.
So now I ask, “Why not RAGBRAI?” D


mcpartla, December 4, 2019 at 3:33 pm

I enjoy seeing and exploring new places and riding my bike long distances and the route varies every year and I found so many interesting places the first 15 years I brought my wife out this year and showed her some of the highlights driving from Keotuk and up the Mississippi River snd then on mostly back roads to Council Bluffs and back to Des Moines for her flight home to Pennsylvania. It’s also a chance to experience the heartland of America where Iowans show their pride in their home state and towns and make us feel welcome. I’ve brought family and friends 16 years now and never been disappointed.


mjeller, December 4, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Well…since you asked. I grew up in Des Moines and graduated from high school in 1973 (RAGBRAI start year), so have always known about it. I always thought it would be the coolest thing ever to do, but never really had the opportunity and the years rolled by… Then, in 2015 I thought what the heck am I waiting on?? Seemed like an excellent way to celebrate turning 60, and the theme that year happened to be ‘Party Like It’s 1973’. Well, I was pretty sure I still knew how to do that part, so I put my plan in motion! Hadn’t been on a bike since college, so headed to Bike World to get me some wheels! That was in March and I had to do some serious pedaling to be ready for July – but nothing could stop me now!
Then came the day to head west and my adventure began! I was pretty apprehensive when I boarded my charter in Ames – alone. But the excitement on the bus was palpable, and all along I-80 there were team busses and cars with bikes. When we started to pull into Sioux City that day, my eyes must’ve been like saucers! So many tents and cyclists; like nothing I’d ever seen!
Long story getting longer… Yes, the adventure far exceeded what I’d even imagined. I felt like I was a part of something so amazing – and so addicting btw! Although I managed to crash twice that first year (hadn’t even considered that might happen), I’m quite fond of my road rash scars. Nature’s Ink! I chatted with so many people along the way. Truly one-of-a-kind. I’ve now done the past 5 rides, and literally start counting down the days to the next one when I get home from the last! For that one incredible week, I’m not accountable to anyone. All I have to do is ride my bike, eat, drink & be merry! Oh…and not get lost in overnight towns, which I always do! One of my big regrets in life is not having started doing it earlier, but that’s okay. It gives me reason to stay in shape and I love it!
Now…aren’t you glad you asked?? LOL


Sandaltan ., December 4, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Dizzy has asked “Why not RAGBRAI”. I have heard all of these objections while on other state rides and encouraging others to give the big Iowa ride a try. The last two are my favorites. Too many people, roads are too crowded, you have to sleep in a tent, it is not a loop ride, a logistical nightmare, you have to buy your own food, and finally….there are no rest stops with free drinks and snacks.



SFC JKL 2, December 5, 2019 at 12:32 am

The ride is what you make it. It’s the scale that makes it so good. If you want to do something, there are 500 other people that would like to do it too. You never ride more than a couple miles without seeing something to eat or drink. Many times we’ll stop to regroup at a house and end up having someone pull beers out of their fridge for us (or even go on a beer run). Simply a joy to out with the great people of Iowa. When we first started riding, it was a free vacation. Now it’s an excuse to go drinking with friends from around the country. It may be a long ride, but it’s only 10 miles to the next town. You never know what adventure that may hold. Then it starts all over again.
PS: I have no ties to Iowa. I haven’t carried a map for years and probably couldn’t tell you the name of the overnight town we just left, or the one we just rode thru.


Papa T, December 6, 2019 at 8:18 pm

I Been on Ragbrai 19 years and never say a fistfight. Remember at least 30 percent of the folks have been drinking since noon (or sooner).


Jose Medina, December 6, 2019 at 8:59 pm

Bless your heart ! You just figured out what Ragbrai is all about. It is all about the Iowa People. I have never seen a fist fight. I have seen lots of love. Almost lots of love. I will be at the Route Annoucement Party to answer questions that were not appropriate on this Ragbrai.What happend in Vegas stays in Vegas. Thank God !!


KenH, December 9, 2019 at 12:51 pm

I ride RAGBRAI because some friends talked me into it in 2012. I had never heard of it in spite of having lived in neighboring states (WI and IL) the entire time it has run. I had no particular desire to do it, but I did have the desire to do things with my friends so why not?

Now I do RAGBRAI because I have done RAGBRAI and I know that it is a preposterously good thing to do on so many levels. And that is a good thing because at a glance it is an utterly preposterous thing to do!


Ken Reed, December 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm

I ride RAGBRAI because I love the culture. I was asked by my uncle in 2006 if I would drive the support truck for his team. I had a few RAGBRAI experiences before this (handing out water in 1988 as a 10 year old, partying at Ankeny’s Christmas in July in 2000, and my aunt and uncle’s wedding in Iowa Falls in 2004). I should also point out that my grandfather was the team’s support driver before I came along. So, RAGBRAI is also kind of a family thing (my dad and step mom ride too). I realized, as a support driver, I was missing all the fun. So, I got a bike and got into bike shape and rode RAGBRAI 2007. I’ve been on every ride since. I’ve made so many close friends and learned so much about myself doing this. I’ve turned both 30 and 40 on the ride (b-day is July 26th). I got my girlfriend (now wife) to ride. Now, my little brother rides which makes me feel prideful. RAGBRAI isn’t just a ride, it’s a way of life. It’s also a feeling that you want to bottle up and open in coldest of winter’s months. That’s why I RAGBRAI.


T. Gap Woo, December 9, 2019 at 3:55 pm

My story begins in 2004, when I began my teaching career as a middle school math teacher at age 51.

Per the curriculum, I began the year with a unit on pre-algebra. I was using a book called “Variables and Patterns”, the gist of which introduced the concept of using constants and variables to determine patterns. The “story” of the book involved a group of college kids who were starting a bicycle touring business running from Cape May NJ along the Delmarva Peninsula.

To make the “story” plausible, the author included a small blurb describing an annual bike ride in Iowa, right down to the tire dip, and included a link to the Ragbrai website. Naturally, I checked it out and thought, “Wow. That sounds like fun. I’d like to try this someday!”

Fast forward to Black Friday 2011 when my LBS held a huge sale. Having done much research, I bought a Trek 7300. Realizing that I needed to get into shape for a ride as long as Ragbrai, I spent the next year training for the ride. In 2013, I rode my first Ragbrai from Council Bluffs to Fort Madison. The rest, as they say, is history.

Why do I ride? So many people — family and friends — said I was nuts, I’m too old, it’s too far etc etc etc. I rode my first Ragbrai to prove them all wrong, to prove to myself that I could do it and also to show my students that, if you set a goal and apply yourself, there’s nothing you cannot accomplish.

In subsequent years, former students have come back to visit my classroom to tell me that my example led them to their own personal accomplishments. As a teacher, who can ask for more?

If the good Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise, I’ll see you along the I-O-Way next year.


KenH, December 10, 2019 at 10:03 am

This is a very good thread, just what we need right now. I hope it continues long in the same vein. Something else occurred to me while reading all the above. You know how people ask you what you would do differently if you could live your life over? Well, most definitely one thing I would do over would be to ride the first RAGBRAI and every one thereafter! I could’a, should’a, and would’a if only I had known about it….


Ken Reed, December 10, 2019 at 11:26 am

I too would have started RAGBRAI earlier than I did. My uncle has had a team since the late 90s and had brought up the idea of riding it in the past. I always blew the idea off. Why in the hell would I want to ride a bike across the state? Oh, how little I knew about how it would impact my life.


garywilk, December 11, 2019 at 12:37 pm

I look forward to it more and more each year. There are so many things to list that anyone can find something. I just wish I would of done it with my parents when they first said I should do it (about 30 years ago). They are now in their mid 70’s but my dad still offers to drive the motorhome for us which even makes it better like last year with my brother and nephew (his first). He will ride back a town or two to meet up with us for the last leg. Great family event. There is something for everyone.


Mike Murphy, December 14, 2019 at 4:41 pm

I have done Ragbrai 10 times in the last 12 years. The reason I did my first was a personal challenge. I had lost over 60lbs and just started riding the spring of 2008 and heard about this ride and thought it would be a good test. It was a good test, the route that year had some serious climb and was fairly long. The reason I have done nine others is what happened on that first ride. The people in the pass through towns and overnight towns were so welcoming and made me feel special. Getting to meet Mr. Karras when I have done the loop is so special. I love the crowd of riders on the route, that makes it special. The crowds in the towns make it special, even having to wait to go to the restroom or take a shower makes it special. Anyone can do a ride that doesn’t have those challenges but without them its not Ragbrai. Ragbrai is something special and its not just another ride. I will always do Ragbrai when possible because I don’t want to do just a ride I want to do Ragbrai the best ride in the country.


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