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RAGBRAI is turning 50, and we want your stories for our documentary!

  • 25 April, 2022
  • Courtney Crowder
RAGBRAI riders dance

I was desperately searching for an atlas at a Casey’s in a 2015 pass-through town when my “RAGBRAI moment” happened.

A child of Google maps and numbered blocks, I was lost. My phone couldn’t connect to the overloaded cell tower and my sense of direction wasn’t compatible with winding country roads.

After no less than four locals tried to describe how I could get from here to the next town on my itinerary without crisscrossing bicyclists, someone called a local policeman and requested a map. He walked up, atlas in hand, and sketched my route on the barely visible lines representing local roads, talking me through each twist and turn.

“Good luck,” he said, passing me his number in case I got lost.

This was my “RAGBRAI moment.” The moment I came to understand that this roving carnival set on the back of two wheels wasn’t actually about making it from here to there. Not really anyway. It was about remembering, and reclaiming, the goodness of humanity.

The heart of RAGBRAI has always been the people who ride, the towns who host and the space — literal or metaphorical — the event offers riders to find whatever it was that enticed them to put their lives on hold and risk saddle sores in the July heat.

RAGBRAI is about overcoming, about growth. It is about finding yourself in the middle of nowhere, about changing your life in seven days flat.

Next year, RAGBRAI will mark 50 years as the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world.

In celebration, the Des Moines Register is embarking on a documentary project to capture the essence of RAGBRAI. Filming will tentatively take place this summer with a release just before we dip our tires to start ride No. 50.

We are currently seeking stories from riders who have overcome, grown or smashed a personal goal because of RAGBRAI. What was your RAGBRAI moment and how did it change your life? Tell us! 

Shoot an email to ragbraidoc@gannett.com with your name, contact information and a brief description of your story. Someone from our team will be back in touch.

Can’t wait to see you out on the road this July!

Courtney Crowder, the Register’s Iowa Columnist, traverses the state’s 99 counties telling Iowans’ stories. She’s covered RAGBRAI for seven years. Reach her at ccrowder@dmreg.com or 515-284-8360. Follow her on Twitter @courtneycare.

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