How does one put into words an experience that is so transforming, so impacting, and so incredible?

How can I begin describe and attempt to wrap up a week-long bicycle ride across the state of Iowa?

Friend, I believe it’s impossible. I know it’s something I can’t adequately do. This year’s RAGBRAI adventure–our fourth on our tandem–was even more than my brain could take in.

RAGBRAI 2017 - a great adventure!

RAGBRAI 2017 was a great adventure!

I just perused through and posted on my personal Facebook page 249 photos and 7 videos in a RAGBRAI 2017 album. Yes, you read that right… 249 photos. Now, I don’t expect anyone to scroll through theses numerous and precious memories of ours. That’s like looking at someone’s 249 vacation photos that won’t mean much to anyone except to the ones who lived them. I get that. But, my heart is full after viewing them, many for the first time after capturing them in the moment.

I caught these precious memories on my phone, saved them to my laptop, and posted them on social media (I’ll put them in a Shutterfly book soon) with the hopes of never forgetting RAGBRAI 2017.

As strange as it may read, this bicycle ride across Iowa is life-changing. It’s attitude-impacting. And, it’s perspective-shifting. Seven straight days on a bicycle seat allows one to experience life from different angles and alternative viewpoints. Burdens of every day life tend to fade away and typical worries vanish with each passing mile. Life becomes less about to-do lists and deadlines and more about simply soaking in the sights and enjoying the ride.

Enjoying the ride...

Life becomes extra-sweet while traveling on a bicycle.

And the views are unlike anything you can see speeding down the road at an automobile’s pace. Being forced to slow down does a person more than good.

Because Bill and I ride tandem, we were together 24 hours every day. Except for when we visited the bathroom and when we showered. A week together is a blast and a challenge, all at the same time. I don’t know how he puts up with me, but I’m thankful he does. Bicycling was originally his thing, and I get the honor of going along for the ride.

One unique thing I appreciate about RAGBRAI (maybe even the most) is that everyone (most everyone) is so friendly. People you don’t know wish you a ‘good morning.’ Fellow riders talk to you as you travel down the road together. I can’t count how many people jokingly told Bill ‘she’s not peddling back there.’ It’s easy to become traveling buddies by listening to another’s story standing in the port-a-pottiy line. Meeting cyclists from all over the nation (and even the world) is an added bonus. It’s almost as if we are one big happy cycling family. (Except for the occasional grumpy individual.)

One big happy family - RAGBRAI 2017

And the towns. Goodness the towns! Talk about friendly. I loved every conversation we had with the local people of our pass-through and overnight towns. They were welcoming, kind, warm, and caring. They wanted to know just as much about us as we wanted to know about them.

I love small-town (and big-town) Iowa!

Small town Iowa RAGBRAI 2017

Also, RAGBRAI week is filled with the days I wear no makeup, and I don’t fuss with my hair. I shower in semi-trailer trucks or local schools or YMCAs. It’s freeing to lay down the stuff the world cares about and just be who you are. It’s always good to be real, isn’t it?

As with each RAGBRAI, we again felt God’s presence in special ways. We trusted he was protecting us as we peddled. Riding with 10,000+ cyclists over 411 miles (our odometer read 431) could present a myriad of issues and problems, but the only issue we had was having to replace our front tire. We could feel the prayers of others as they spurred us on daily. We thank God for His grace, love, kindness, and protection!

Something new we did this year was Facebook Live broadcasts each day. We have heard from many how those were appreciated and it helped others to have a taste of what RAGBRAI is all about. If you’d like, feel free to check those out on my Loving God Loving Others Facebook page.

To wrap up my wrap up, here are some of our RAGBRAI 2017 favorites

Breakfast: Mabe’s Pizza breakfast pizza in Decorah

Lunch: Sweet corn pancakes topped with grilled cheese curds in New Hampton (sounds awful but it was surprisingly incredible!)

Sweet corn pancakes RAGBRAI 2017

Treat: Rhubarb pie from First Lutheran in Britt

Dinner: Lasagna dinner at Notre Dame Parish in Cresco

Pass-through town: Decorah

Overnight town: Charles City (but didn’t care for our campsite)

Campsite: Spencer fairgrounds

Route: Day 7 (even though it was the most challenging!)

RAGBRAI 2017 was unforgettable for Team Lefebure!

If you ever get the chance, I encourage you to ride at least a day of this amazing ride. I believe you’ll also experience a life-transforming, attitude-impacting, and perspective-shifting event. It takes place the last week of July and next year’s route will be announced at the end of January. Stay tuned!

RAGBRAI 2017 Mississippi River tire dip

Thanks for journeying with us!

Blessings,

Julie

 

 

Linking this post with my friend Lori.

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