RAGBRAI brings Simpson community together

by Zach JamesStaff Writer

While students were away enjoying their summer, bikers crowded campus as Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, RAGBRAI, rolled through Indianola on July 21.

Members of the Simpson community were involved in the event in a variety of ways. Some rode through the state as members of the Simpson College team. Others, including many coaches and athletes worked in concession stands around campus.

Team Simpson was poised to conquer the 500-mile trek across the Hawkeye State. The team of 46 riders was led by Senior Advancement Officer Chris Goodale; Bob Lane, vice president for College Advancement; Leslie Held, director of alumni relations; and Kelley Bradder, vice president of Information Services.

“Since it was our first time, we planned the logistics to move 46 riders, gear and bikes to and from the start of the ride, arranged overnight camping accommodations and provided all the details needed for a week long 500-mile bicycle ride,” Bradder said.

The first RAGBRAI trip went a bit rocky for the crew at times.

“The riders faced wind, rain, flat tires and a tough, hilly route,” Bradder said. “Each rider that participated found a way to meet those challenges and succeed. They all should be very proud of their accomplishments.”

According to President John Byrd, who rode with Team Simpson, all the glory goes to the organizers of the team.

“They were up every morning preparing the camp for our departure, and then Kelley and Bob packed up all of our belongings and moved on to the next site to set up for our arrival,” Byrd wrote on the Team Simpson blog at the end of RAGBRAI Week. “In many ways, all of us who were riding RAGBRAI had the easier job every day.”

Organization at Simpson started in March when the overnight towns were announced.

Amenities provided on campus included camping, overnight accommodations, showers, activities, food and beverages and “a warm and friendly Simpson welcome,” Bradder said.

When the crew arrived in Indianola, some stayed on the campus, whereas other members chose to sleep in their own beds.

It was 4 a.m. when freshman Rawley Butler’s alarm clock went off. He woke up reluctantly, but knew he had to help with concession stand. He was one of 41 basketball players who sold breakfast goods and coffee to cyclists who were headed to Chariton.

“It wasn’t very fun, but it was a good experience,” Butler said.

However, the basketball squad was not the only team working that morning. Nearly every coach within the athletic department served the RAGBRAI riders, including head wrestling coach Clint Manny.

“The main goal for us in the athletic department was to create revenue and use RAGBRAI as a fundraiser,” Manny said. “Beyond generating funds, I’ve found many other benefits from having Indianola as an overnight stop for RAGBRAI.”

Manny pointed out recruiting as a positive aspect he found within his department.

“I’ve had two wrestlers from Illinois visit campus because their high school coaches were on RAGBRAI,” Manny said. “RAGBRAI is a great way to get people on our campus whether they are from Iowa, the Midwest region or all over the U.S.”

Butler, a transfer student from the Bay Area, had not been to RAGBRAI before and was surprised when he saw thousands of bikes around campus.

“I have never seen that many bikes before in one place,” Butler said.