5 reasons to love RAGBRAI

Steve Smartt of Nashville, left, and his son, Stuart Smartt of Atlanta serenaded other members of the Morrison Group in Webster City when RAGBRAI stopped there in 2012 with "Give Me One More Sip of That Worry Be Gone."
Steve Smartt of Nashville, left, and his son, Stuart Smartt of Atlanta serenaded other members of the Morrison Group in Webster City when RAGBRAI stopped there in 2012 with “Give Me One More Sip of That Worry Be Gone.”

In a blatant attempt to recruit people to Team MCSA, which is being organized to raise money during RAGBRAI for Muscatine Center for Social Action, I decided to list five reasons why it is such an awesome event. And I might not even list reasons No. 2-5, because No. 1 is so great:

Steve Smartt in a photo by the Nashville Tennessean.
Steve Smartt in a photo by the Nashville Tennessean.

Meeting people like Steve Smartt, who was profiled Monday in The Tennessean. The daily newspaper in Nashville reported on Steve’s effort to play The Star-Spangled Banner at least 100 times this year at public events in observance of the National Anthem’s 200th anniversary.

To be honest, I’d say nice things about Steve even if there wasn’t a chance he might see a link to this blog on Twitter and then read it. He’s a good guy and a longtime member of the Morrison Group — bicyclists mostly from around Iowa City, Decorah, the Quad Cities and Muscatine with whom I’ve done three RAGBRAIs.

Steve is also associate dean for academic services and assistant provost for research in the Graduate School at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. And he is known as “Box Car” in the Beaker Street Blues Band, the band in which he sings and plays trumpet.

But Steve isn’t really unique when it comes to RAGBRAI. It’s easy to meet interesting people like him every time you stand in one of the many lines in which you find yourself standing on RAGBRAI.

In my opinion, this is easily the best thing about riding a bicycle across Iowa with thousands of my closest friends, but since I headlined this post, “5 reasons to love RAGBRAI,” here are four more:

  • piePigging out on the food, which includes, but isn’t limited to, pie. I once ate part of a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was dusted in powdered sugar. It might sound disgusting, but it was one of the most decadent things I’ve ever eaten — the way it perfectly melted the peanut butter. Mmmm.  And no listing about RAGBRAI food would be complete if it didn’t include Farm Boy breakfast burritos.
  • Watching people of all ages — from infants in trailers to riders who are well into their 80s — pedaling up hills, fighting headwind, heat and rain to experience Iowa’s beauty from the slower pace of a bicycle.
  • Riding through towns in Iowa that I’ve never been to before and might have never visited if not for RAGBRAI.
  • Enjoying the sense of accomplish I feel every time I pass some guy on a $5,000 bicycle — especially the Lance Armstrong wannabes who look surprised and unhappy to be passed going up a hill by a guy my size on an aging entry-level Trek road bike.

That’s enough for now. If I think of more things I love about RAGBRAI, I’ll just publish another list in the future.

If any of this has made you realize how much fun you are missing out on, or if you feel like riding a bike to help raise money for MCSA, please contact me. A limited number of spots on Team MCSA are still available.

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