Muscatine team works to take Chinese riders on RAGBRAI

Shanghai cycling
Amateur cyclists race at Mingzhu Lake in Shanghai. With some luck and plenty of hard work, some of these riders may join Team MCSA this year on RAGBRAI XLIII.

Team MCSA could take on an international flavor this year.

In 2014, I took 21 other cyclists, a two-person support crew and two fundraising students on RAGBRAI XLII to raise awareness about homelessness while also raising money for MCSA by bicycling across Iowa. MCSA, where I am the deputy director, is the nonprofit organization that runs the homeless and domestic violence shelters in Muscatine, Iowa.

Tony Joseph
Tony Joseph

After a meeting last week with Muscatine businessman Tony Joseph, it looks as if up to 15 cyclists from Shanghai could join Team MCSA this year on RAGBRAI XLIII, which will begin Sunday, July 19, in Sioux City and end Saturday, July 25, in Davenport. Tony — who has played an important role in developing the community’s relationships with the Chinese since President Xi Jinping visited Muscatine in 2012, when he was the nation’s vice president — says Shanghai officials are interested in sending cyclists on RAGBRAI with riders from Muscatine.

The 15 Chinese cyclists will join Team MCSA if we are able to work out a long list of details, and they could increase our group to nearly 40 people. This is a very exciting opportunity — one we’re all going to work hard to make happen.

Once we’re able to get them here, our Chinese teammates shouldn’t mind riding with the 10,00 or more cyclists who annually participate on RAGBRAI. Shanghai holds an annual bike carnival to promote healthy lifestyles. The carnival features an amateur cycling race at Mingzhu Lake and a cycling tour that everyone can join. The lake is said to be a magnet for cycling clubs in Shanghai, which is the world’s largest city with a population of 24 million.  (The population of New York is an estimated 8.4 million.)

But the possibility of having Chinese teammates isn’t the only exciting news from Team MCSA. So far, 19 riders have indicated they plan to ride this year with Team MCSA and five of them have registered. I’m expecting more to register this week. Of these 19 cyclists, 10 did not go on RAGBRAI with Team MCSA last year.

If this is something that interests you, please contact me ASAP and then get registered. I’d like to take as many riders from last year’s team as possible — also, I’d like to take several new riders. By next week, I really want to have a good idea of who is going.

It’s going to be a great opportunity and lot of fun. No one should want to miss it.