Members of Simpson community take on RAGBRAI

Members of Simpson community take on RAGBRAI

by Bryan GeelanStaff Writer

Every year, RAGBRAI attracts approximately 10,000 bicycle riders who travel across the state from Iowa’s western border to the Mississippi River on the east border. People come from across the United States and around the world to make the trek of more than 450 miles.

This year will mark the 35th riding of RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Already a world-renowned ride, RAGBRAI’s popularity continues to grow. The second year of participation for seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and a predominately flat route will expectedly bring big numbers this year.

An increase in riders will obviously lead to crowded roads. After riding in RAGBRAI for the first time a year ago, sophomore Christin Kloewer welcomes the increased participation, as the larger crowds have lead for a flatter route to be chosen.

“We are given the entire width of the road, and normally bikers are pretty considerate,” Kloewer said. “I love being around lots of people so that won’t bother me at all.”

Kloewer’s first experience with the ride lasted one day and she hopes to complete two or three days this year with increased training. More experienced riders, such as Mark Juffernbruch, associate professor of accounting, would rather face the challenges a hilly route has to offer.

“I would personally rather ride a more rolling route,” said Juffernbruch. “It (the flatter route) is probably a better ride for 10,000 people.”

Although last year was Juffernbruch’s first on RAGBRAI, he is not a rookie when it comes to riding. He is a former triathlon athlete and competitive bicycle rider. Because of the restrictions of specific training and lack of time, he has given up competitive racing. However, he still manages to log 5,000 to 6,000 miles on his bike per year.

“The reason I stopped was because (the training) aspect wasn’t fun,” Juffernbruch said. “Now I go out and ride however I want.”

Kelley Bradder, vice president of information services and chief information officer, has been riding RAGBRAI consistently since 2001. Prior to arriving in Iowa from Connecticut, Bradder had never been a serious rider. In fact, she didn’t even own a bike.

“I came to Iowa and I thought all of these Iowans were crazy because they rode 500 miles from one side of the state to the other side of the state,” Bradder said. “It blew my mind that people could ride that long or would want to.”

Since her first ride in RAGBRAI, Bradder has become an avid rider. She now travels around the country to participate in different rides. Last year she put in 500-mile rides in Wisconsin and across southern Utah.

“It’s an incredible way to see the United States,” Bradder said. “You see so many different things from the seat of a bicycle that you would miss if you were flying by in a car.”

Since its first ride in 1973, RAGBRAI has grown beyond all expectations. It has come to represent the true character and personality of the state of Iowa.

“RAGBRAI is a remarkable event in that it epitomizes all that Iowa offers,” Bradder said. “Yes, there is an economic benefit to the towns, but it does showcase Iowa’s work ethic, friendliness and Midwestern way of life.”