Friday, December 05, 2008

Just Signed Up To Do RAGBRAI

It's the "Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa".
Or in more simple terms, about 12,000 (yep, that twelve-thousand) or so people on bicycles riding across the state of Iowa one week in the summer of 2009.
It's an annual event, this coming summer with be the 37th annual ride. It's not a race. Just a tour.
I've read where the origins of the ride began when one writer of the Des Moines Register newspaper said to another rider (both cyclists) "Why don't you ride your bike across the state and write a story about it". His reply was something like, "Ok, I will, if you'll go with me".
About six weeks before they were to leave, they wrote a small, one paragraph story in their paper, telling readers of their plans, and inviting anyone to join in who wanted.
The day they began the ride, 200 people showed up! About half those rode the entire route with them.
After writing the story about their ride, they began to get many inquiries, things like, "We would have loved to join you, but 6 weeks was not adequate time to prepare" or "Any chance you'll make this an annual event". So, after some discussion, they decided, "Sure, let's do it again next summer". This time about 2,000 people showed up on bikes!
The event grew, and grew, until one day there were estimated to be 23,000 people riding! At this point, it was getting too big to handle, so they began a lottery system to choose the riders. Now, you have to send in your application, and if more then 8,000 people apply, they do a drawing to see who gets chosen to be a registered rider. From what I've read, many more non-registered riders join in, that's how they get the 12,000 or so participants. From what I read, most people who apply get to ride. So I'm hopeful I'll be chosen.
Each year a different route is chosen. They begin at the far western edge of Iowa, and go to the far eastern edge. It takes 7 days.
There are charter services that will transport you to and from the ends of the ride.
As a registered rider, they haul your tent and baggage in tractor trailer trucks. Each night they stop in rather small towns, perhaps the size of Berryville. You camp in school yards, football fields, private resident's yards, etc.
It's a huge fund raiser for local schools, churches, and civic groups as they sponsor spaghetti suppers, ice cream socials, watermelon feeds, pancake breakfasts, etc. Oh, and I hear there's plenty of pie to eat! Each town the ride goes though participates my making essentials available to, drink and entertainment.
Depending on the route, you ride 60 to 90 miles a day.
The only part I'm a bit concerned about is, riding that far, sleeping on the ground in a tent, then doing it all again the next day. I sure do enjoy a nice, soft bed at night! Hopefully, I'll be able to contact some photographer friends along the way who'll invite me to stay in their homes!
If you'd like more information, check out their official site:
Also, if any riders in NW Arkansas or SW Missouri would like to car pool, drop me an email or call:


Blogger Jenn said...

That sounds like a lot of fun. I have thought about getting into bike riding now that my kids are old enough to not need to be with me constantly. Have a great ride across the state!

12:08 PM  

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