The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa starts Sunday, July 20. This event is in its 36th year. Bikers begin the ride by dipping their rear wheels in the Missouri River on the western side of Iowa and end it one week later when they dip their front wheels in the Mississippi River on the eastern side of the state. Although you can drive straight across Iowa on I-80 in about four hours, the Ragbrai route meanders along country roads and includes plenty of hills. (Yes, Iowa has hills!). The average daily ride is about 70 miles. One day of the week includes an extra loop for those bikers wanting to do a century ride. The route alternates annually between the northern and southern parts of Iowa. This year it passes within four miles of my parents’ farm.
For years I’ve hankered to participate in Ragbrai. My sister-in-law has done it several times, riding a recumbent bike. Riders are chosen by lottery, and entries for the week long ride are capped at 8500. An additional 1500 riders are allowed to ride each day for a single day, or part of a day. If I were in Iowa on Sunday morning, I could pedal my bike to where county road M16 meets Tamarack Trail, ride some miles with the Ragbrai group, and call my dad to pick me up in his truck when we stopped for lunch in a neighboring town. But I’m signed up to do the 3Sport Sprint, so Ragbrai will stay on my list of things I’d like to do for another year.