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RAGBRAI: after the ride

RAGBRAI cyclists reflect on their journey across Iowa

RAGBRAI participant Nancy Anthony of Creston and team Average Length, Over-sized Girth pose infront of their team bus, a repurposed school bus purchased from Diagonal Community Schools.
RAGBRAI participant Nancy Anthony of Creston and team Average Length, Over-sized Girth pose infront of their team bus, a repurposed school bus purchased from Diagonal Community Schools.

More than 10,000 registered cyclists participated in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) this year.

The annual seven-day bicycle ride is the oldest, largest and longest multi-day recreational bicycle touring event in the world. Des Moines Register Media has been the title sponsor of RAGBRAI since 1973.

Over the years, RAGBRAI has attracted cyclists from around the globe with its scenic course featuring small towns, metropolitan areas, creative team costumes, themed buses and campers, and the camaraderie it creates among the riders and observers, alike.

Allison Knox, 33, of Winterset, who has participated in RAGBRAI for four years, said it is the people that make the the event so great.

“It was more like a community,” said Knox. “Everyone looked out for each other – from bike help to vehicle alerts. That was neat to see and be a part of. Light conversation with people passing by to visiting at the campgrounds with someone new each night. Everyone was always nice and sociable. This is really what made the ride fun.”

Garret Taylor 22, of Creston joined his father Craig Taylor, who drove the Team Kum & Go bus, for the ride. Taylor rode his bicycle the entire route – logging 432 miles, which he monitored on his Apple watch.

“The most memorable part was rolling into Davenport down to the river and dipping our tires into the river,” said Taylor. “It’s great knowing that you made it all the way across Iowa.”

An overnight stop in Jefferson was also a favorite among the cyclists.

“They had a hairball concert and it was one heck of a show, said Taylor. “It was a lot of fun to watch.”

This is the sixth year Linda Caviness, 52, of Orient has participated in RAGBRAI.

“It was something I always wanted to do,” said Caviness.

Caviness, who participated in the ride this year with Daisy Stalder and family, said it was during a boot camp at Adair County Health and Fitness in Greenfield where the team formed in 2013.

For her, the most memorable part was rolling in to Jack Thrice Stadium in Ames for the “Cyclone Loop,” which was a new addition to RAGBRAI this year.

Caviness, who rode 187 miles in three days said her goal is to eventually ride the entire route.

“I tell everybody, once you get going, you don’t really pay attention to the miles, because there are people around you that you get to talk to” said Caviness.

Austin Brunell, 24, of Creston, who has participated in RAGBRAI three times, said it is a great event to do with your family. Brunell rode 45 miles Sunday – from Onawa to Denison – with his father Douglas, and his siblings Aaron and Crista.

“I was a little more worn out than I expected to be, but, I got to meet a couple new people that were doing their first year of RAGBRAI.” said Brunell. “We bonded over the struggle of the day and it was fun to hear about their experience and wish them luck for the rest of the week.”

Brunell thinks what makes the event so fun is the entertainment and costumes.

“Costumes are always fun,” said Brunell. “There’s always people doing crazy stuff. There’s this one group of guys that had just really bright neon colors on with some crazy funky patterns. It was pretty groovy.”

For first time RAGBRAI riders, Brunell offers a bit of advice; “I’d say definitely train ahead of time, and, be willing to be flexible and go into it knowing that things might be a little difficult to figure out the first few days. But, if you stick to it, you’ll get into a groove and it will be pretty fun.

Three-time RAGBRAI participant Nancy Anthony, 59, of Creston, rode 175 miles from Sunday through Tuesday with a team of 27 people from southwest Iowa.

Anthony praised all of the volunteers and supporters for making the event a success.

“One thing I learned is that RAGBRAI people are super generous,” said Anthony.

Anthony and her team were offered camping space at the residence of Ron and Ione LeMay of Jefferson. She said their hosts offered showers, electrical hookups, fresh towels and went above and beyond.

She also said the pie stops at senior centers along the route were some of her favorite stops.

“I don’t eat pie normally, but, on RAGBRAI I eat pie.,” said Anthony. “Most of the senior centers you could get pie and go and eat it. And, if you’ve been riding a bike it’s super nice to go inside to sit down. And, those people are super appreciative.”

Anthony said it’s an event anyone can do and it’s loads of fun.

“You ride with thousands of your friends,” said Anthony. “You just get out and go and hate the hills, but there’s fun stops along the way. I think the thing that helped me was, when I got on that bike in the morning, I knew I had the whole day to complete it.”

Anthony said the age of the average rider is 50.

“When you think you’re too old to ride it, but then you pass a 75-year-old lady, or a 77-year-old guy. You’re like, ‘yeah, I can do this,’” said Anthony.

Anthony said, for her, it’s all in the training.

“When people say, ‘I could never do that,’ it’s not that they don’t want to do that. Its that they choose not to,” said Anthony. “You can do it. If you train your mind, train your body and buy the right gear, anyone can do it. You just have to make a commitment.”

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