What is RAGBRAI?


RAGBRAI®, The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa®, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. RAGBRAI is the longest, largest and oldest touring bicycle ride in the world.

For those of you who have never ridden, this rolling celebration of Iowa attracts participants from all 50 states and many foreign countries. It has covered thousands of miles through the years, and hundreds of thousands of riders have hopped in the saddle to pedal part of those miles.

RAGBRAI is a bicycle ride-not a race. It started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state of Iowa by two Des Moines Register columnists who invited a few friends along. It is held the last full week in July and hosted by The Register's front-page cartoonist, Brian Duffy and a team of Register staffers.

The people of Iowa truly make RAGBRAI the special event that it is by opening up their towns and communities to participants.

Well, That's what some of what the Des Moines Register, the organization that started and still sponsors RAGBRAI has to say. Me? I say there is a lot more to it.

It's 10,000 of the your best friends getting together for a week. It's really getting away from it all. It's being greeted with smiles and water mists in every town along the way. It's making new friends and seeing old ones. It's sitting around the campground swapping lies, beers, Scotch and water.

It's stopping by Mr. Porkchop or Tom's Turkey or Chris cakes for breakfast or lunch. It's listening to the Kybo doors slam all night.

It's setting and meeting some personal challenges - Can a keep up this pace for an hour? Can I make it to the top of this hill without resting? Can I find a better piece of homemade pie in the next town? Can I explain what the hell I'm doing here?

It's strangers offering to help when you need it. It's helping a stranger when they need it. It's chatting with the person on the bike next to you about where they got that dinosaur shaped horn or that shirt or whatever.

It's getting up in the morning to another glorious day when the only person making any demands on you is yourself.

It's asking another rider to describe RAGBRAI and getting the answer "you can't. You have to experience it."

It's what you make of it. That's RAGBRAI.

For more on this events, check out some of these links:

RAGBRAI.org - The official RAGBRAI site

Best and Worst of RAGBRAI - R. Bruhn's pages on RAGBRAI - always a good read

Geo Bike - THE source for the geography of each RAGBRAI

Museum of RAGBRAI buses - RAGBRAI is where old school buses go to die