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RAGBRAI, Days 3 and 4


Over the course of the week I will be sharing my daily diary of adventures with the 38th annual Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), organized by the Des Moines Register. Check back for new updates every day, and please share any insights you have into the wonderful world of bike riding across our beautiful country.


Tuesday, July 27

Today’s route was a relatively short 60 miles as we rode from Algona to Clear Lake, but it was extremely hot and steamy most of the day, with the temperature index over 100.

Twenty thousand riders need a lot of food. And they need it frequently and in large quantities. One of the great things about riding this many miles every day is that I could eat with abandon. No worries. Here are some of the things I ate:

Running out of food was never a concern

Running out of food was never a concern. How the bicycling nonprofit CEO fuels up:

  • Pork chop on a stick
  • Pork loin on a stick
  • Breakfast in a bowl
  • Breakfast bun on the run
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Turkey fillets
  • Bratwurst (veal)
  • Bratwurst with sauerkraut
  • Smoothies
  • Hamballs (with brown sugar and gravy)
  • Pulled pork
  • Corn (dumped in a tub of butter)
  • Gyros (for breakfast)
  • Spaghetti and garlic bread (in church basements)
  • Pizza
  • Peanut butter sandwiches (lots)
  • Homemade pie
  • Gluten-free cookies
  • Bananas (several a day)

Wednesday, July 28

One of the shortest days on the tour—only 52 miles from Clear Lake to Charles City.

When people say why they enjoy RAGBRAI, their answers always include the opportunity to meet so many interesting people, and I couldn’t agree more. Every town provided a chance to meet friendly people eager to talk and swap stories. Twenty thousand riders came in all sizes and shapes. There were the teams of young riders racing along in peloton style pedaling to the beat of a big boom box. There were lots of tandems, and they seemed to come in two extremes: some powered by two young riders zooming along at breakneck speed and just as many slowly lumbering along with two overweight and inexperienced riders. There were a surprising number of recumbents, in a variety of styles: long to short wheelbases; large and small wheels; and overseat, underseat, and no-hands steering.


Bob Ottenhoff, RAGBRAI veteran Julia, and Faith Ottenhoff

My wife, Faith, and I rode with a group that included our Washington friends Tom and Donna and about 10 of Donna’s family members, ranging in age from 15 to 76. During the week, one of them, Julia, celebrated her 76th birthday along the trail and marked her 15th RAGBRAI anniversary. She was an inspiration for all of us. Her secret for success: attitude and determination.

Here’s a picture of Julia:

Roxie Jerde and Bob OttenhoffI also had a chance to ride with Roxie Jerde, from GuideStar’s partners at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Roxie and her husband, Mike, have ridden in about 15 RAGBRAIs and look forward every year to meeting friends and celebrating traditions.

The ride also gave us a chance to spend a night with an old friend, Doug, and his wife, Gail, and spend two days riding with regular bikemates Bill and Rita.

Riding companion Tom, Bob Ottenhoff, riding companion Donna, and Faith Ottenhoff Riding companion Tom, Bob Ottenhoff, riding companion Donna, and Faith Ottenhoff.
Bob.jpgThe preceding is a guest post by Bob Ottenhoff,  Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.
Topics: Events