The PBV Pulse on RAGBRAI

October 22, 2019

Dear Porkers,


During this past week, our inbox runneth over, and we have found many of these letters too inspiring to keep to ourselves. We share just a handful of quotations about what it has meant to our riders to pass the corn in Iowa... and a few photos of the ride we love.


We'll be back soon with good news, and until then, we remain...


Your friends,


Tammy and Pete

From Kate: "I love RAGBRAI. I love its goofy traditions, the little towns, the overwhelming friendliness of the people I have met who live in Iowa and/or ride RAGBRAI. I love that RAGBRAI started in a spirit of goofiness and fun and let's-see-if-we-can-do-this. It's always been an escape week for me, my Brigadoon in Iowa. The summer that my brother died, it was one of the few bright spots in my life. See you at next summer's RAGBRAI."

From Deni and David: "For the towns, for the providers, for the state, Ragbrai is truly an institution. I certainly hope that when the dust settles and after some period of time, the tradition and the uniqueness will prevail. Fingers crossed. I was already anticipating the January route announcement. We'll watch for updates!"

From Terry: "In an era when polarization flavors so much, RAGBRAI has been a place to put down our differences and pick up our bikes. 


"RAGBRAI has been there to remind us, if we looked for it, that we are all co-travelers in life - that joy and frustration, hard work, pleasure, and the miracle and limits of living in our bodies are our common human experience. It has reminded us of the joys of fellowship and human connection, whether that’s by seeing friends for another year or by having a short conversation in the Kybo line. 


"All this in an environment where the glow that grabs our attention in the morning and evening comes from sunrise, sunset, and the moon, not the TV news, and where the goal is not to be superior to others but to challenge ourselves. 


Participating in RAGBRAI has been about coming together - stepping out of the world of which-side-are-you-on into a week of commonality." 


From Randy: "Some things need to transcend politics. That’s not to say I agree with the Register, but perhaps a little forgiveness and grace is in order for them too. Long live this great tradition." 

From Bob M.: "I am happy, grateful and relieved with where you came out on this decision. After reflection, it became obvious to me that I was with the tradition that has become a special part of Iowa and that makes Iowa such an endearing place. RAGBRAI is bigger and more enduring than any one individual. I love the values that Iowa beacons and what the ride celebrates. It’s more than just a bike ride..."

From Paul: "Ridden with you guys four times (and hope to again soon). Just wanted to say I agree with your decision. One aspect of RAGBRAI I have always enjoyed is the non-political nature of the event. It’s like folks just checked that at the door before hopping on the bikes."

From Bob S.: "I remember as a student at Creighton, reading about the first RAGBRAI ride in the Register. I would go to the library in the evening and read the Register reports from the first riders. I was captivated by the experience. Maybe it was my Dutch heritage. I so wanted to make that ride. When my wife asked me what I wanted for my 60th birthday in 2014, my answer was quick, to ride RAGBRAI. I rode it that year for the first time, and I have to say, that was the greatest experience in biking that I have ever had."

From Rollie, who, as you can see here, has been riding RAGBRAI for a long time, 46 years to be exact:


"Good article in the DM Register today. You made the right decision. My first Ragbrai was Sagbrai [the Second Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa]. John Karras announced the ride in the Sunday paper, and my wife and I decided to go. We called up Howard Johnson’s in Council Bluffs and reserved a room the night before the start!! Then we went to Omaha and bought two Fuji bikes.


"One rider rode the whole ride in a bikini swim suit. Most of the food vendors along the way were private persons who lived close to the ride. Chris Cakes served breakfast every day, and churches sold food. In one place a couple of young guys had a truckload of watermelon and were cutting it up with corn knives and giving it away free. I think the only bike mechanic was Bill’s Cycles, and about the only police support was one state trooper, Bill Zener, who drove back and forth. He was a joker. A rider ahead of me thought it would be a good idea to cut a large marijuana plant and tie it on his bike. Bill saw that. ‘Don’t be a sap,’ he said over his loud speaker. ‘Throw the weed in the ditch.’ The guy did. Bill is 89 or 90 now, and lives over in Red Oak. 


“The next year they gave the ride the official name of Ragbrai, but we still have our Sagbrai t-shirts. Maybe in time, they will be so valuable that we’ll be rich. I can dream, can’t I?”


From Greg: "I've thought of you and your crew over the last couple of days. I am sure that this has been difficult for all of you. Only having ridden for the last two years, I was surprised by how often this has crashed into my consciousness... and I am surprised at how relieved I am that you 'want to help continue one of Iowa's proudest traditions.' Anyway, I'll see you in July. I'm already looking forward to it."

From Scott: "I am so proud of the Register for what they’ve built over the last five decades. I only hope that this rift in the RAGBRAI universe might somehow be mended so we can all come together next July. In the meantime, I’m grateful for your soothing words. We can all use some Pork Wisdom in these moments. Know that when we’re hot and sweaty, we’ll be cool and clean again. Know that that everyone will have his or her turn in the shower and kybo. And know that we will all do better if we treat one another with kindness and respect."