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Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa



Mark your calendar for late July...it's RAGBRAI. The pilderwasser collective has its own bus, and it's growing larger each year.

Don't let the acronym get you down, if you haven't heard of RAGBRAI, you probably know someone who has. This seven day ride across Iowa features 15,000 people on bikes. Ten thousand registered riders and a few thousand party poachers. It's just a number until you actually see, and feel, and smell those people on the road riding together. Until you bump elbows with them, until you get cut off by a paceline, until you get boxed in and forced over some rumbles. Toss in a few thousand support staff, a thousand support vehicles, numerous baggage trucks and team busses, vendors and Kybo technicians, and you've got a circus. On your left!

It's about a 400 mile bike ride, at a very casual pace, stretched over seven days. And when it's all over you've actually gained weight. Food and beer. Beer and food. In every little town, church, roadside stand, beer garden, and grocery store.

It cannnot be described with just a few photos but here's a hint, a whiff, a taste, a brief glimpse, and a slide show. Here's the official site. But look around for more RAGBRAI photos and commentary to get closer to the truth than the DesMoines Register can get. For the history behind the ride and how it's grown over the last 40 years, read RAGBRAI by Ann and John Karras.

When I went to Grinnell College I heard people talking about RAGBRAI, but it was just a strange word.  I rode a bike in college, but never hung around campus in the summer and I don't think I was ready for it at age 19 or 20. The average RAGBRAI rider is over 40.  It all works out in the end and all roads lead to Grinnell, Iowa.

Many of these photos are by Chris Murray. My 2008 slide show is on the photorama page while 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 are on the slideshow page.     


no shirt, no shoes, no problem, no watch, no alarm clock, no cellphone, no job, no obligations, no responsibilities, no expectations but wide open to the numerous possibilities. No worries about world politics, no job stress, no hassles with the spouse. Your biggest problem may be where to fill up your water bottle, or how to wipe the sunscreen off of your shades because the lycra-spandex won't cut it. 

what time is it? what day is it? where am i?

it doesn't matter

just ride your bike to the next town. As slow as you wanna be. As drunk as you wanna be. As spandex hard-core roadie as you wanna be. Or as sweat soaked cotton cutoffs if you want. beer garden, live music, good food, church basement, local bar, back yards, cornfields, friendly people, garden hoses, open roads. bike ride


The RAGBRAI experience means something different to each and every person. Four very close friends riding together on the same stretch of road will each have different perspectives on the ride. One may be thinking, “that’s the best bratwurst I’ve ever had”. Another is thinking, “I really like the women on Team Gourmet”. The third is thinking, “with this tail wind, my average speed is up to 21 mph”. And the fourth rider is thinking, “I haven’t been this drunk since last year

if you build it, they will come 


nothing says RAGBRAI like ice cold beer on the side of the road


"Rather than working on physical exertion I concentrate for two weeks on developing survival skills including nutritional and schedule variations.

Ingesting a daily pint of Crisco, alternating liquid and solid forms, prepares my digestive system for the endless pork burgers and hamburgers that are to come. An additional half-dozen cookies and two or three quarts each of iced tea, lemonade and water [and beer] are also minimum daily requirements.

Arising at 5am, I get dressed, make my bed, then stand outside my bathroom door for 37 minutes before entering. I repeat this procedure several times a day."

--Lorraine Roth,   RAGBRAI by Ann and John Karras, page 149

    Lorraine knows RAGBRAI, I added the beer.