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.
I'm sitting here writing this blog from the volunteer fire department in Douds, Iowa, population 175, where there are currently maybe 3,000 cyclists milling about the tiny main drag. Over the day, as many as 15,000 riders will be through. It's so cool! There's music, there's food, and the riders of RAGBRAI are all supporting the local community and having a great time.
It's been a good ride today. I'm about 50 miles into the 60-mile route. One of the things I wanted to talk about today is what I call RAGBRAI radio. Maybe one in every hundred or so riders has a speaker on the back of their bike and is playing their favorite playlist. That means that every few minutes, little clips of songs fly by
I love it, because sometimes what you need to power yourself up a hill is some Prince "Let's go Crazy." Some songs keep showing up. It seems like I've heard AC/DC's "Back in Black" about ten times. "Danger Zone" from "Top Gun," "Love Shack" and "Wagon Wheel" seem to be on a lot. There's an occasional jam that is just perfect for the moment. Today, "Whatta Man" was on and it was the perfect beat to carry me up a hill.
Another time, I saw a fast crew and they were blasting "Thriller," so I kicked up my higher chain ring and dug deep just to stay with them and sing along! We also experienced the trifecta of Jumps: "Jump" by Van Halen, "Jump" by Kris Kross and "Jump Around" by House of Pain
I also wanted to talk about some of the amazing inspirational people out on this ride. When I rolled into this little town, I met a teenager named Carter. He has cerebral palsy or something similar (I didn't ask), and he's out here with a team of five amazing guys who are taking turns pulling him in a custom trailer. Let me tell you, I have a hard time getting myself up some of these hills, so the men and women pulling this trailer so that Carter can participate is huge.
I also spoke to a man named Pat, who is part of ASI, Adaptive Sports of Iowa. The CEO of this group is evidently legendary Iowa Hawkeye quarterback Chuck Long, who is riding tomorrow! Anyway, the ASI group has a whole slew of different rigs designed to let people who can't bike ride RAGBRAI. Some are hand pedaled; some are moved through other means. It's so cool to see these athletes out on the road enjoying this sport alongside traditional bikes.
Speaking of special ways to make RAGBRAI accessible to different people, I also read today that RAGBRAI offers "rolling meetings" for members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, as well as a slew of different religious services, including Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominations. I think it is neat that the little rolling city that is RAGBRAI goes out of its way to make people feel welcomed.