RAGBRAI  (The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), begins on Sunday morning and Luke, Noah and I are finishing up the last minute preparations with the Airstream and plan on heading out later today.

This year marks the 45th ride which always takes place during the last full week of July.

RAGBRAI started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state by two Des Moines Register columnists who thought they were just inviting just a few friends along.  About 120 people made it across the state that year.  The next year, 2,000 showed up.  The number grew to 10,000 in 1985.    The Ragbrai is limited to 8,500 week-long riders and 1,500 day riders.  However, many non-sponsored riders will ride certain legs of the ride and in 1988, an estimated 23,000 riders had taken part in the leg of the ride from Boone to Des Moines.   The ride can get a little crazy and can be dangerous.  Every year on my previous rides a biker has been killed,  so I am very cautious while doing this.   The ride annually attracts participants from every state and many foreign countries.  Each year, the route changes and eight different communities serve as hosts.   Through the years, the route has averaged 67 miles a day with a total mileage for the week at 468 miles.  This year’s route is actually a short one at 411 miles and only 13,078 feet of climb.

The 2017 route will begin in Orange City and take us through Spencer, Algona, Clear Lake, Charles City, Cresco, Waukon and we end up in Lansing, IA on the Mississippi.

This years route is looking perfect for an old guy getting back in after a few years hiatus…

Today, Noah, Luke and I plan to boondock somewhere in Iowa and roll into Orange City on Friday morning.  The Expo begins on Saturday and the rest of our team will be rolling in Saturday afternoon. While I have done this several times in the past, I had to bow out for many years for reasons not worth explaining, but I am finally back and really looking forward to the time with my kids and friends once again.    I am meeting up with some of my Luther College friends (some riding with me and others hosting us at their homes in the overnight towns).  Noah plans to be the driver and will be in charge of hauling the team Airstream from town to town.  It will be an adventure for all!  On a personal note, this year’s route will take me right through Decorah, home of my beloved alma mater, my boyhood home town (Ossian, IA) and we will ride right past the cemetery where my mother is buried (Waukon, IA).  As such, I feel that my start up back into this was perfect timing in many ways.

Yesterday, in true RAGBRAI form, I decided to split up my late morning 30 mile training ride with a stop at Cheers in Chilton, WI.

A midway stop at Chilton’s Cheers. Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came…

My old, but good, Trek Dimension One bike with a trailer holding my homemade solar-powered Bluetooth boom box and charging station.

The Airstream this morning is packed and ready for travel

We will be heading out in a few hours and will try to journal some of our trip along the way.  It’s always difficult to do with limited internet access along the way (a problem that I personally enjoy having).    If we can’t give daily updates, I will have a bunch of fun pictures (at least in my mind) to share when I return on Saturday, July 29th.

RIDE ON!!!!!