Dream Team: Helping Youth Conquer RAGBRAI

By J. Sharpe Smith

The Dream Team, a grass roots organization that has been training youth to participate in RAGBRAI since 1997, is going strong this year with 44 young riders (17 young women, 27 young men) and 30 mentors.

The Dream Team celebrates in Le Claire at the Mississippi River

The Dream Team celebrates in Le Claire at the Mississippi River

The team, which benefits greatly from the sponsorship of RAGBRAI, Bike World, the Riverfront YMCA of Des Moines and a host of private donors and generous bike clubs, also gives back to the community.  On a rainy, cold day, the group manned a water station to aid and encourage half-marathon runners in the Drake Relays.  Later in the year, the team hosted and participated in the Mayor’s Annual Ride for Trails on another cold, rainy day. Upcoming community events include helping move books for the Franklin Public Library and performing trail clean up on Neil Smith Trail.

At the end of May, riders had already completed nearly 500 mile outdoors. That included a 120 mile round trip to the Boone YMCA. Riders faced headwinds of 30 mph on the way there, slept in tents in 40 degree temperatures and rode on yet another a cold and rainy day returning to Des Moines. A highlight of the trip was a hot lunch served in Luther served by ladies from the Luther Christian Church. Upcoming major training events include a ride and campout in Panora in June followed by a ride/campout to Sun Valley Lake in June (200 miles in three days!).

The Dream Team is not all work and no play. One of the group’s goals is develop fellowship among the riders. In February, riders took part in an ice skating event during indoor training. Upcoming fun includes an Iowa Cubs baseball game, roller skating party, a swimming party and a breakfast burrito ride.

dtlogo1For more information on how you can get involved in Dream Team or contribute to this program, visit

Sharpe Smith is a veteran mentor of the Dream Team and an avid cyclist from Des Moines.


Tim, May 27, 2009 at 10:26 am

Great article! Wonderful to see these young people developing bike skills and giving back to the community. I konw they were a big hit during the Drake relays and gave a lot of excitement and energy to the runners.

Kevin Fitzgerald, May 29, 2009 at 7:50 pm

The RAGBRAI Dream Team and the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) Dream Team had an “exchange” in 2001. In June of that year, one RAGBRAI mentor brought several Iowa young people south to ride BRAG. Then, a month later, I was one of the three adult mentors who helped bring seven of our young riders to ride as guests of the RAGBRAI Dream Team. I will always remember that experience in a very positive way. Our riders were amazed at how hilly Iowa could be. It was tough, but we made it, and we had fun along the way! We certainly enjoyed the Iowa hospitality.
As we get our own Dream Team ready for BRAG 2009, I wish the very best to the RAGBRAI Dream Team for a safe, storm-free, and enjoyable ride that they’ll remember for a lifetime.
Best wishes from Kevin, BRAG Dream Team Mentor.

Deb Ryan, May 31, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Thanks, Sharpe, for a good article about our fantastic team. RAGBRAI riders, please say “HI” to the members of the Dream Team. They are a great group of kids and an amazingly dedicated group of mentors…. I may be a little partial 🙂 I’ve been riding with the Dream Team for 5 years!

Lesly Trejo, Sep 30, 2009 at 12:17 am

I have been part of the Dream Team for three years and i have enjoy riding and meeting new people. It has been one of my greatest experince in life..:)

Jefferson Penderel, Jun 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm

BPshould burn in hell for what they have wrought.

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