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RAGBRAI 2012: British invasion

  • 26 July, 2012
  • Michael Morain

Vinton – This might be Drew Buck’s first time on RAGBRAI but it’s definitely not his first on a bike.

The 63-year-old Englishman, who lives between Bath and Bristol, rolled into town on a rusty 1920s-era French bike with only two gears. For the high one, he pedals forward; for the low, in reverse.

He joined this year’s ride at the suggestion of a friend, who has ridden several bike rides in France, and Buck dressed the part. He wore a black beret, a red polka-dotted scarf and a white shirt with classic French stripes. (Add a baguette under his arm, and he could pedal right onto a poster for French tourism.)

A braid of dried onions hung over his handlebars in tribute to the French onion farmers, known as “Onion Johnnys,” who used to ride a ferry across the English Channel and pedal to small towns in England to sell their onions.

Buck added to his bike a braid of garlic, too, for protection.

“Have you seen any vampires around today?” he said. “Then it must be working.”

A battered leather briefcase was strapped to the bike behind its seat. Its contents: “Resistance plans for the D-Day landing,” he said. “They’re secret.”

So keep that quiet, OK? (Vive le resistance!)


  1. Michael Hauri

    Is he required to wear a helmet? Neat bike

  2. Jeremy

    We ran across Mr. Buck and his bike on Saturday. At first we thought his bike was just another old bike, until he pedaled in reverse to go up the hill. Very cool bike and seeing Mr. Buck dressed in period attire made it even better.

  3. Jerry Phelps

    What the article doesn’t say is that Drew rode this bike in the 2007 Paris-Brest-Paris. 760 miles in less than 90 hours. This ride occurs every 4 years, and Drew has done it 6 times, all but once on a really old, weird bike. In the 2011 edition, he did it on a fixed-gear with wooden rims bike built in 1900. He is quite an inspiration.

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