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Riding Across the Heartland


Here I am on the far right with part of the team I rode with all last week Here I am on the far right with part of the team I rode with all last week Saturday, July 24, at about noon I entered the city of Sioux City, Iowa, in northwestern Iowa, population 85,000. Nestled up against Nebraska and South Dakota, Wikipedia says this general area is called “Siouxland.” I have newfound curiosity for the surrounding geography, having just finished reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s best-seller on General Custer’s exploits and ultimate demise here on the plains and areas to the west.

For the next seven days I participated in the 38th annual Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), self-described as “the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world—and one of the state’s best excuses for a party. The cities and small towns along this year’s route are hosting big-name concerts (Smash Mouth, the Spin Doctors, the Nadas), dusting off old recipes (Mulligan stew, gargantuan ham balls) and sprucing up landmarks that visitors can see year-round, no matter how many wheels they ride to get there.”

Our accommodations Our accommodations

The ride always begins on the western border of Iowa and always ends on the eastern border. Organizers expected more than 10,000 riders from 50 states and 25 countries to make the full seven-day trip and another 10,000 or so (no one really knew) to join us for shorter periods. Over the years a tradition has developed for riders to dip their rear tires in the Missouri River at the beginning of the ride and dip their front tires in the Mississippi River seven days later when they complete the trip. I was honored to join that rich tradition.

The event is organized by the Des Moines Register. According to the promotional literature, the Register contributes to nonprofit organizations and causes within Iowa as well as to RAGBRAI towns. Please check back to this blog as I highlight interesting nonprofit organizations taking part in the ride and share some of our adventures.

Please check tomorrow to find out what happened on days 1 and 2 of my trip across Iowa.

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