The Most Amazing Week – RAGBRAI 2014

by | Jul 27, 2014 | personal journey, This Lefe Family

I just experienced the most amazing week of my life.


RAGBRAI roadSeven days filled with life-altering, memory-making, perspective-changing moments I will not soon forget.

Five of them were on a tandem bicycle with my husband as we rode RAGBRAI. Peddling 320 miles, on two 26-inch wheels, (almost) across the state of Iowa. We missed the first 70+ miles by attending our beautiful niece’s wedding, and the last 60+miles because of a less-than-100% bicycle after four broken spokes on Friday (plus feeling like our bodies couldn’t do one more day).

This was the most physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done in my 40+ years of life. It was the most fun I’ve ever had also.

I’ve never felt such a sense of accomplishment!

Of all the things I’ve worked for, earned, achieved, etc., so far in this life, nothing has felt as sweet as this!

I believe it’s because the main reason I rode on that small thing called a bicycle seat for five days was for my husband. (Details here.) He loves to bike. He turns into a different person on that bicycle… almost like a little kid. I loved watching the transformation. I loved watching him. I loved biking with him from the stoker seat on that tandem.

RAGBRAI Bill JulieGod not only blessed our time together, He blessed our marriage. He met us, helped us, encouraged us throughout those 320 miles, and He prompted others to do the same for us on this journey. We could feel the prayers of others. It was indescribable!

RAGBRAI shadowFor maybe the first time in my life, I let go of every little thing that has ever held me back. I was completely free to be me, without any second-guessing. Without any weight on my shoulders. Without any expectation of anyone else. It’s something I’m having a difficult time putting into words.

RAGBRAI Julie Day 2No make up on this face of mine. Messed-up hair, most often covered with a bandana and/or a bike helmet. Sunscreen- and sweat-drenched skin. Not-so-flattering bike shorts or skirts. Not a care in the world how I looked. I was in front of a mirror only three times the entire week. None of that mattered. You are who you are on RAGBRAI.

That’s the beauty of it all.

Bill would tell me how beautiful I was. I knew how I looked, and I wouldn’t call it beautiful. But the beauty he saw was his wife being who she was meant to be, as she supported him in doing what he loved and in being whom he was meant to be.

Our marriage will never be the same after this week. I never expected that!

RAGBRAI handsPeople from all over the country and from all over the world come and ride RAGBRAI. We met some of them. 10,000+ bikers infiltrated the route and the towns on it.

RAGBRAI GraettingerSmall town Iowa treated us well. Each town blessed us in different ways. Seeing their water towers in the distance seemed to pump adrenaline into our tired legs. Incredible food. Friendly folks. They know how to throw a welcoming party.

RAGBRAI EmmetsburgIowa State Patrol directed us, protected us, and encouraged us with not only their words, but with booming music from speakers perched on top of their patrol cars.

Corn fields, bean fields, and bicycles as far as you can see. Breathing in the fresh Iowa air. Stresses of life disappeared out there.

RAGBRAI wind turbineBelieve it or not, tent sleeping wasn’t so bad. I guess I was tired enough each night to sleep straight through until the alarm went off at 5am.

RAGBRAI tentAnd the lines. Lines for the port-a-potties, showers, food, beverages. A couple cold showers and a couple showers that reminded me of my junior high locker room with little- to-no privacy. None of that mattered either. I was just happy to have a “bathroom,” to have a shower, and to refuel our bodies.

I can’t wait to return. And yes, we plan to do the entire week in 2015, Lord willing. And we hope to take a bunch of others with us!

I never dreamed supporting my husband in “his thing” would have such an impact on me. I’m thankful for this experience. I’ll be talking (and writing) about it for weeks to come!

Thank you for journeying with me!


Linking up with Holly Barrett for Testimony Tuesday!

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  1. Cindy Smith


    I don’t think I have ever seen you smile so big or so bright! You look beautiful, joyous and content. Thanks for sharing this with us. I feel like I get to know you a little better with each post. Thank you for blessing us with your thoughts and experiences. Can’t wait for next year!


    • Julie

      Hi Cindy! I can’t wait for next year too! Thank you for stopping in to share your thoughts here. It was an amazing experience. Hope all is well in your corner of the world!! Hope to see you soon!

  2. patti seda

    Congratulations, Julie and Bill!! It was such a treat to follow your journey and I love your passion and inspiration. While 10-20k who participated, there are far less that complete 5 days AND talk about returning next year.

    Again, congratulations:)

    Patti Seda

    • Julie

      Thanks, Patti! Your words kept coming to mind while out there on those roads. Thank you for your much-needed encouragement!

  3. Patricia Baumler

    What a wonderfu week for the tow of you! Glad you stopped before your tandem broke down, that could have been serious. God Bless and get ready for next year!

    • Julie

      Hi Patricia! Yes, it was a wonderful week! Thank you for your encouragement! We plan to keep riding! 🙂

  4. Jennifer Stallman

    Reading this just brought tears to my eyes! Congratulations you two! I love how you two are so supportive of one another!

    • Julie

      Jennifer, thank you. Your encouragement through the week really helped us. You really have no idea. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend in my life. You are a blessing!

  5. Jen @ Growing in Faith

    First, you put tears in my eyes, dear! And second, you make me actually want to ride next year! Miracle of miracles! 🙂 I’ll have to think on this (and start training like NOW). It’s been through my hometown a few times, and what a community transformation! It just makes me love Iowa even more.

    • Julie

      Jen, seriously, it was the most incredible experience. I always said it was “my husband’s thing” and “it wasn’t for me.” But I was so wrong. I hope you consider going next year, at least for a day or two! I look forward to seeing the route next year! It makes me love Iowa even more too!

  6. Holly Barrett

    Oh Julie, what a wonderful week you had! Such a testimony to the power of going side-by-side with your husband in something that he enjoys. You are right that your marriage will never be the same. So happy for you and so grateful that you shared this at Testimony Tuesday!

    • Julie

      Thank you, Holly! It’s good to be back to Testimony Tuesday! Love it! Thanks again for hosting. You’re a blessing!

  7. Lisa Moles

    I have really enjoyed following your posts through the ride. So glad you’re home safe and blessed by this transformation. I keep trying to convince my husband to transfer to Iowa – longing to be Midwestern again – this just makes me love the idea more!

    • Julie

      Lisa, Iowa is a pretty special place to live! Thank you for sharing here. It’s always good to return home, and I’m thankful for God’s protection while riding! I’ll be sharing more things I learned on our ride throughout the coming weeks. Blessings to you. (And if you ever take the step to move to Iowa, let me know!)



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