The 41st RAGBRAI starts tomorrow out of Council Bluffs, IA and I’m going to be there. I’ve been thinking about this for a few years and the starting location being 15 miles from my home makes it challenging to find a good excuse not to ride this year. RAGBRAI is a bike cycle tour for 7 days across the state of Iowa. The tour route varies each year but begins along the Missouri River and ends on the East side of the state along the Mississippi River.
So this tour and I are both Generation Xer’s and in our early 40’s. Two guys who worked at the Des Moines Register newspaper decided it would be cool to ride their bikes across the state and invited any readers who were interested to join them 41 years ago. Gen X entrepreneurs all the way, no computers or Googling required. The tour was a success and now the event is the largest attended bike tour along with the oldest bike tour of its kind.
I’ve been preparing this year. The RAGBRAI information site says I should have at least 1,000 miles of training in to be prepared. I’m a couple hundred short but I’m only going to do the first day of the tour so I’m calling it a fair compromise. I attended the Expo tonight at the Mid American Center in Council Bluffs and found a biking jersey that says Nebraska (take that Iowa). I’m joining 10,000 + other riders tomorrow morning.
Tonight at the Expo I noticed the attendees are my age or older. I’m not headed out into a youth fest of super fit kids who will run me down. This ride was started by Boomers and I was very impressed with the number of participants who could have been my parents. It’s a long ride lasting 7 days and it is a great deal of time to invest in vacation time and preparation. I wonder if 7 days is too long to be unplugged for a generation that isn’t used to being off a smart phone and powered by their legs for 4-7 consecutive hours.
I’m ready to take the biggest tour on. Okay I’m ready to do the first day of the tour. Mind you I won’t have to set up a tent, sleep in it, take it down and do it again for another 5 nights. I have only one day of weather to fight and not 7. And I will not earn the honor of the badge for completing the race. But tomorrow, when the tour opens at 6am I’m going to be there for everything the day can give me. I’m bringing my camera in case there is not a second attempt.
My adventure will not be solo. I am so lucky to be a part of a small group that rides together weekly in Iowa and are regulars on the race. I stole one of their group members and woo-ed him to Nebraska a year ago and this is the payback – come see Iowa on a bike. Tomorrow I will ride with Rosie and Jerry, Sue, Deb, Denny, Linda (our RAGBRAI crew member), Carol and Jerry along with Phil.
The group promised me Tom’s Turkey legs, all you can eat pancakes, and ice cream all along the route. There should be a Margarita with my name on it but I have to ride a bike hooked up to a mixer to blend it. I’ve already seen a double seated rolling banana bike but they say there will be more unbelievable bikes. The weather will become a point of exaggeration of future stories and hills will get higher and higher each time we recall them.
Destination Harlan, IA.