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Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI)

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 8:46 AM by Iowa Corn

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, commonly known as RAGBRAI®, is the nation’s largest and best known bicycle ride.   Every year since 1973, bicyclists have started at the western side of the state and pedaled across Iowa to the Mississippi River over a seven day period.  Typically the distance is between 400 and 500 miles.  It has become immensely popular amongst cyclist, attracting riders from all 50 states and many countries each year.  It is so popular that the organization has had to limit participants to 8,500.  Iowa doesn’t have seashores or mountains but one reason it continues to be so popular is because of the hospitality that Iowans show to their two-wheeled visitors each year.  Towns all along the route go out of their way to make riders feel welcome when RAGBRAI comes through.  Churches bake pies and serve dinners, and there are food, drink and entertainment stops all along the course.  Another reason riders cite for doing RAGBRAI is because they discover how beautiful our state is.  Every July, they ride through the lush green fields of corn and soybeans, across the rolling countryside.  Many cyclists, even those from cities in Iowa, rarely spend time in the country.  You can imagine how refreshing this must be for people who live in large cities.
Bringing thousands of people to Iowa each year presents an opportunity to educate these visitors about Iowa agriculture.  This year, Iowa Corn is providing an opportunity to help educate the bicyclists on some facts about Iowa agriculture.  Along the route this year will be 8-foot cutouts of farmers with signs containing interesting facts about Iowa agriculture, such as “Iowa’s farmers rank #1 in corn, hogs, eggs and ethanol”.

This “Find a Farmer” campaign is an excellent opportunity to provide some facts about the corn and soybean fields they are riding through all week long.  You can read more about this at iowacorn.org/RAGBRAI.  Look for these if you are riding. If the route is coming by your farm or through your town, get out and give these cyclists a good old Iowa welcome. 

Bicycles and corn, or should I say Ears and Gears, are two of my favorite things.  I have been working in the corn industry since 1984.  But I have been riding bikes for much longer, in fact almost my whole life.  I have been a competitive cyclist since 1973 and have been a cycling coach since 2001.  For the past five years, I have served as the RAGBRAI Coach, providing training tips to RAGBRAI participants.  You can read my training blogs at http://ragbrai.com/category/ragbrai-training-blog/.

David Ertl, Technology Commercialization Manager at Iowa Corn, and RAGBRAI Coach.

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