What I Learned on RAGBRAI 2019

by | Aug 14, 2019 | #revive2019, Love God

The dust has settled from returning from RAGBRAI 2019. My cycling shoes, however, are still covered by the precious Iowa dust they collected over the ride’s seven days. If only those shoes could talk, what a story they could tell! Their lingering smell says enough, however.

What I Learned on RAGBRAI 2019

RAGBRAI 2019 was another incredible experience.

As mentioned in a previous post, this was our 6th RAGBRAI on our tandem. Due to a delayed spring, our training began in May, and over ten short weeks, we clocked 800 miles. Our goal is to complete 1,000 miles before RAGBRAI each year, and even though we didn’t make our goal, what we did achieve enabled us to tackle the 491 miles in seven days.

With each year’s ride, I bring home important takeaways and lessons learned based on what we experience during the week. Sometimes I learn something about myself, or about my husband. Passing through the towns I always learn more about our incredible state. And, without fail, I learn more about God.

This year was no exception.

What I learned on RAGBRAI 2019:

1. Don’t focus on the finish so much you lose sight of the here and now.

The beauty of RAGBRAI is each participant gets to ride his or her own ride. There’s no right way to do it. As long as you get to the overnight town by the end of the day, you’re good. I’m one who likes to begin each day’s route early and arrive into the overnight town early. And, as we pass through each town on the way, I have to consciously slow myself down… not necessarily my physical self, but my mental self. To stop and smell the roses, so to speak. RAGBRAI 2019 was good for me as it forced me to live in the moment, and not to rush to the next town or to the end of that day’s route. It’s okay to get there when we get there. And enjoy each moment along the way.

2. It’s okay if people think you’re nuts.

With over 15,000 riders, RAGBRAI is like a big parade that peddles down main streets of the pass-through towns. We stopped to rest in this particular town one day, and I noticed a man sitting in a lawn chair by the roadside near where we parked our bike. I had been pondering a question for some time, so I asked him, “So, tell me. Do you think we’re all crazy out here riding RAGBRAI?” His response confirmed my pondering. “Maybe a little. It’s something I’d never do.” (Yeah, Mister. I said those words before, too.) Most people probably do think Bill and I are nuts to bike across Iowa in seven days, and many tell us they’d never do it. And, that’s okay. So what if people think we’re nuts? Friend, be you. Do what you love to do and take lots of photos while you’re doing it. 🙂

3. Allow yourself to go “off-route” sometimes.

With over 15,000 riders, the crowds of people can get to us after awhile. So, sometime and somewhere during the week we usually end up veering off the route to get away for a time. And, each time we do, God seems to bless us in some way. One year we found an off-route town, stopped in its local pub, and had a relaxing, quiet lunch. This year we and our friend Robin hopped on a bike trail from Cumming, peddled a couple miles north, and spent some time at a fun place called “The Chicken.” Our couple hours there were just what we needed. Going off-route in life has its benefits, too. It’s refreshing, it’s perspective-shifting, and it helps shake things up some to keep life interesting. Don’t be afraid to go off-route every now and then.

4. Sometimes it takes rain to bring forth beauty.

We arrived in our starting town Saturday afternoon (the ride began on Sunday) in 90-degree, humid weather. You can imagine how uncomfortable that was! Sleeping in our tent that night was even more uncomfortable. When we broke camp the next morning, Sunday, to start our ride, rain began to fall. And, it continued nearly all day long. All. Day. Long. Riding in the rain is not my favorite thing to do, but that’s what we did. After awhile I just got used to it. But that rain ushered in behind it cooler temperatures and less humidity. The rest of the week was absolutely beautiful! That rain not only helped me appreciate good weather, but it also brought the beautiful weather our way! It was worth riding in the rain for a day to have six days of beauty to follow. Sometimes it’s the rain that brings beauty in our lives, too.

5. God gives us what we need, when we need it.

I was very concerned about this year’s RAGBRAI. I wasn’t sure I would be able to physically do it. A tailbone issue since last fall has been a pain in my back side, literally. So much so, I began physical therapy and chiropractic care in early spring, not knowing how this would affect our bicycling season. It’s a muscular issue, one that I guess I’ve had for a very long time. So, healing is a long, slow process. I fully expected I’d be in so much pain during RAGBRAI we’d have to call our son to come get us mid-week.

But, I prayed, and I asked others to pray. I asked God to help me be aware of what my body needed and to give me strength I didn’t have within me. We did what we could do, trusting God would do what we couldn’t. And you know what? He did. He gave me exactly what I needed, when I needed it. From providing areas to stretch, to helping me relax on the bike, to relieving my pain, to even a medical team to flush out something that flew in my eye. Everything. God blessed us on RAGBRAI 2019 and helped it be one of our best and strongest ones to date. He has a way of doing that in life, too!

RAGBRAI 2019 was special in so many ways.

I still am in awe of how well we did, only by the grace of God. It’s one for the record books in my opinion! Will we do RAGBRAI 2020? We’re not sure, but Lord willing, we’ll be out on our tandem somewhere next season. For now, however, we’re still out there biking until the weather changes, and we’re thankful for all we were able to experience on RAGBRAI 2019.

Thanks for journeying with us!


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1 Comment

  1. Cindy

    This is just great! I love seeing all the things that you see on your trip through your posts and videos! I’m not adventuresome or outdoorsy so your ride is way outside my comfort zone but your observations here are perfect for life no matter how we’re traveling through it! Thanks Julie for always being willing to share what you observe and learn! It’s so much fun!


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