by Chris Brewer
As summer kicks into gear, the thoughts of many on the LIVESTRONG Foundation staff drift northward to one of our favorite destinations: the amazing state of Iowa! For the 8th year in a row we’ll be joining 10,000+ bike riders as we traverse the state for 7 days in the 42nd edition of RAGBRAI, July 20-26.
The Des Moines “Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa “ – hence the acronym – takes a more northern route this year. Shorter and flatter “stages” this year for the world’s oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event means that there will be plenty of time for good fellowship, fun, and sharing of stories for Team LIVESTRONG. We’ll be taking 85 riders and staff who not only enjoy a week in the saddle and camping under the stars, but also will have raised over $100,000 for our mission of helping people with cancer, right now. (THANK YOU!)
RAGBRAI is special not only for the experience on the bike, but it’s also the most time our supporters and staff get to spend with each other, forming lifelong friendships through the corn fields and small towns of Iowa to the finish at the mighty Mississippi river. For some, RAGBRAI has become an annual occurrence, literally penciled into next year’s calendar immediately upon completion. For others it’s a true cycling “bucket list” item that has to be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated.
RAGBRAI is a bicycle ride, not a race, and always occurs in the last full week of July. 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 – think Forest Gump on bikes. The ride – and Team LIVESTRONG – have many personalities and traditions. Words and phrases like: rumbles!, Mr. Pork Chop, rider on – rider off, pass through and meet up towns, and “on your left” become part of your common vernacular. One of our team’s most treasured traditions is a daily Happy Hour around camp. Not your normal office gathering, this time is spent telling stories from the day and then at least one teammate will share their cancer story and why they are a part of this amazing team. Lots of laughter, tears, and hugs abound as this all too common bond of the cancer experience brings 85 individuals into one family by week’s end.
RAGBRAI is just one (very special) way you can help support our mission, and have a lot of fun in the process. Whether it’s riding your bike, running, walking and more via Team LIVESTRONG, or practically anything you can think of through our Grassroots Events program, we want you to actively be a part of our team! But for now, it’s time to train for Iowa – now where are those pork chops and pie?…