Upcoming Event: RAGBRAI
If you’re from the Midwest, it’s likely that you have at some point heard of RAGBRAI: an annual week-long bike ride across the state of Iowa. According to event organizers, this is the “oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world“. It’s always held during the last full week of July and cyclists log about 472 miles for the week (about 68 miles a day).
While the days are spent riding, the evenings are enjoyed with drinks, food, live concerts, and general whole town parties along the route’s stopping points. Riders looking to just enjoy part of the excitement but not wanting to committ to a week can purchase $25 day tickets and simply ride for one day’s stretch of the ride. My husband did this last year with a few of his friends and loved every mile of it. Cyclists of all levels fill the road and enjoy the ride. Here are some of his shots from last year’s ride…
If you want to check out more of the event’s photos, you can find the 2009 highlights here…
This year, I’m joining T. for my first stab at RAGBRAI. I’m a Novice with a capital N. when it comes to road biking, but I’m excited to give it a go. I’ll be hitting the paved trails around my house on my borrowed road bike on a regular basis until the end of July and I’ll hopefully be building a bit of speed, some endurance, and a good dose of balance and dexterity on this precarious contraption. (It feels very precarious in comparison to the tank that is my cruiser). I’m a bit nervous about riding with such a large group of experienced cyclists, but I’ve been assured that people of all levels participate and that it’s as much of a fun ride as it is a race – some go out for speed while others simply enjoy the journey.
Interestingly, one of my favorite bike bloggers, Velouria of Lovely Bicyle, just wrote about the concept of social cycling and voiced some of her misgivings about engaging in group rides. I really enjoyed her thoughtful post on the topic as well as all the comments that followed. As I wrote in my response, I’ve always enjoyed both the solitary as well as the social aspect of cycling (and running). While I appreciate the ‘time-out’ that cycling (or running) alone can provide, I also love that I can engage in these activities with other people in a way that creates a visible community. I think the visibility of group rides or road races contributes to that awareness of a sport or activity that is beneficial and crucial to the survival thereof. Seeing masses of people happily participating in a given event raises awareness of that activity and showcases a public demand for spaces, resources, and support for said pursuit.
While I definitely enjoy the daily routine of just hopping on my bike and getting lost in my thoughts while I bike to work, the store, or around town (or the equally therapeutic practice of going for a long run somewhere preferably woodsy, quiet, and isolated), I also can’t help but enjoy the surge of excitement and adrenaline that comes from joining a huge group of other cyclists (or runners) paying public homage to a activity so well loved. S.