Quincy News

Quincy resident joining thousands in bike ride across Iowa

Laura Sievert
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 22, 2019 12:01 am

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- Cyclists flocked to Laura Sievert's grandmother's Keokuk restaurant, the Gypsy Dell Supper Club, in 1992.

The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa -- or simply RAGBRAI -- had made its last official stop in Keokuk.

"I was 10, and I was there volunteering, basically getting water for the cyclists when they came through," Sievert said. "I thought it was so awesome and that I needed to do that some day."

An avid cyclist, Sievert, the executive director at Arts Quincy, completed RAGBRAI in 2012, and she vowed that if Keokuk was ever back in the route that she would participate.

This year the route ends in Keokuk for the first time in 27 years, and it will take her past the restaurant, which closed in 1994.

Besides paying tribute to her grandmother, Betty Ward, she also will honor her late parents, Cheri and Tracy Atterberg, who both were buried in Keokuk's Oakland Cemetery.

"I thought this would be a nice tribute, so unlike everybody else on RAGBRAI, I will not be going directly to the Mississippi River," she said. "I will be riding from Rand Park to the cemetery and then to the river."

On her bike nicknamed "the Dream Machine" she started the route Sunday in Council Bluffs and is set to arrive in Keokuk on Saturday after 427 miles.

When she was a child, if she was upset with her parents, Sievert would threatened to ride her bike from Quincy to Keokuk where her grandmother lived.

"For the first time as an adult, I actually did that at one point, and to be able to get on your bike and move yourself that many miles in one day is so cool." Sievert said. "There's something so inspiring about it, and you can be so proud of it."

With "ride" in it's name, RAGBRAI is not a race. It's a bicycle tour, meaning there is no prize for arriving first.

"In fact, you don't want to get there first because that means you skipped over all the pie," Sievert said. "And the key to RAGBRAI is pie. You fuel your ride with pie."

One aspect that Sievert likes about RAGBRAI is the impact it has to all the towns in Iowa where 10,000 cyclists stop for the night.

"Everyone of them is buying dinner, everyone of them is stopping by churches and old ladies selling pies and the volunteer fire departments selling eggs in the morning," Sievert said. "The number of dollars that goes through that route is incredible."

Editor's Note: Laura Sievert, executive director of Arts Quincy, is participating in the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa or RAGBRAI. The 427-mile trip will have her pedal Sunday through Saturday from Council Bluffs to Keokuk, Iowa. Laura is blogging about her adventure and the home-baked pie along the way. Read more at whig.com.

Things to Do