Friday, January 30, 2009


Today’s Register included a bit more information about this year’s ride that I thought I’d share. When they said it’s going to be just as hilly as last year, they weren’t kidding.

At 442.3 miles, this year’s ride is nearly 29 miles shorter than 2008. However, 22,806 feet of climb is just 306 feet more than last year. Proper training will be critical to your enjoyment of the RAGBRAI experience.

Here’s a day-by-day comparison of 2009 vs. 2008:

We’ll begin our journey in Council Bluffs (population: 61,324), which previously hosted RAGBRAI in 1974, 1986, 1994 and 2000. Fast fact: The Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge (opened Sept. 28, 2008) is the longest pedestrian bridge to link two states.

Day 1: Sunday, July 19 – Council Bluffs to Red Oak (population: 6,197)
Distance: 52.6 miles
Climb: 3,684 feet

In 2008, Missouri Valley to Harlan covered 59 miles and 3,797 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Red Oak is proud of its Victorian homes and turn-of-the-century courthouse. The Wilson Performing Arts Center opens this year. Red Oak has hosted RAGBRAI in 1976, 1986 and 1997.

Day 2: Monday, July 20 – Red Oak to Greenfield (population: 2,129)
Distance: 72.6 miles
Climb: 5,096 feet (the most of any day this year)

In 2008, Harlan to Jefferson covered 83 miles and 5,239 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Greenfield’s painted Patriot Rock honors those who have served in the military. The town is also home to the Iowa Aviation Museum. Greenfield has hosted RAGBRAI in 1981 and 2000 and was a pass-through town in 1984.

Day 3: Tuesday, July 21 – Greenfield to Indianola (population: 14,156)
Distance: 77.1 miles (the most of any day this year)
Climb: 4,470 feet

In 2008, Jefferson to Ames covered 57 miles and 1,377 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Thousands come to Indianola each year for the National Balloon Classic. It’s also the hometown of legendary RAGBRAI rider Clarence Pickard and home to Coe’s Iowa Conference rivals Simpson College. Indianola has never hosted RAGBRAI, but was a pass-through town in 1997.

Day 4: Wednesday, July 22 – Indianola to Chariton (population: 4,573)
Distance: 44.4 miles
Climb: 2,182 feet

In 2008, Ames to Tama/Toledo covered 78 miles and 2,869 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: The 9.5-mile Cinder Path is Iowa’s oldest railroad-converted trail, having been established by the county conservation board after the rail line was abandoned in 1972. Chariton hosted RAGBRAI in 1997.

Day 5: Thursday, July 23 – Chariton to Ottumwa (population: 24,998)
Distance: 76.9 miles
Climb: 3,388 feet

In 2008, Tama/Toledo to North Liberty covered 76 miles and 3,123 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: The Bridge View Center offers views of the Des Moines River. The city is the hometown of actor Tom Arnold and the fictional home of Radar O’Reilly of the TV show M*A*S*H. Ottumwa hosted RAGBRAI in 1984 and 2000.

Day 6: Friday, July 24 – Ottumwa to Mount Pleasant (population: 8,751)
Distance: 75.5 miles
Climb: 2,841 feet

In 2008, North Liberty to Tipton covered 65 miles and 3,051 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Mount Pleasant hosts an Old Threshers Reunion and is the former home of former Iowa governor and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The city hosted RAGBRAI in 1975, 1984, 1992 and 2003 and was a pass-through town in 1979.

Day 7: Saturday, July 25 – Mount Pleasant to Burlington (population: 26,839)
Distance: 43.2 miles
Climb: 1,145 feet

In 2008, Tipton to Le Claire covered 53 miles and 1,835 feet of climb.

Fast Fact: Burlington hosts Steamboat Days and is home to “the crookedest street in the world,” where the Snake Alley Criterium Bike Race is held. Burlington hosted RAGBRAI in 1979, 1984, 1990 and 2000.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

RAGBRAI heading south

As nearly everyone predicted, RAGBRAI is heading south this year and according to organizers, it's going to be just as hilly as it was last year.

The 37th Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, from July 19-25, cuts a 442-mile route through the southern half of the state. Beginning in Council Bluffs on July 18, the ride will stop in Red Oak, Greenfield, Indianola, Chariton, Ottumwa, and Mt. Pleasant before ending in Burlington on July 25.

"You go south and people just assume it's going to be really hilly, but this year will be pretty close to last year," said RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz. "It's the sixth-shortest route of all time, and it'll be an extremely scenic adventure." The 22,806 total feet of climb ranks as the 10th most in RAGBRAI history.

I'm not too familiar with southern Iowa, although I did live and work in Burlington for a week two decades ago (and paid rent for several months, but that's a story for another time). I'm probably most familiar with Indianola, where my son has played in baseball tournaments and where I've attended several Coe sporting events at Simpson College. As a kid, I went to a high school football game in Ottumwa. As I recall, they had a loose meat sandwich restaurant of regional fame. It's also where we wound up watching a Packer game this season en route home from my nephew's wedding in Columbia. We couldn't find a restaurant with NFL Sunday ticket anywhere in Missouri. Mt. Pleasant has an Amtrak Station for those of you traveling from out of state.

That's my route preview, for the time being. Make this your year to join the official Coe College team on the adventure of a lifetime. Please fill out the information form here and we'll keep you posted as plans develop.

If you've already completed the interest form and are ready to join, you may register online here. After creating your profile (or logging in to your RAGBRAI account for veterans), you should choose to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send signed waivers or any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, the group contact.

Also, if you are from one of the overnight towns and would like to host Team CoeBRAI in your community, please let us know.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

yeah, ok

Everyone knows that Lonnie is a great Captain and a fine figure of a human being.

AND: everyone knows that his overwhelming enthusiasm for last summer's ride was fueled by his impressive weight loss, likely suspicious substance use, and sheer delusion. Last years' RAGBRAI was a feast of suffering, a surfeit of pain, and a regular grito de dolores, if I may misuse that phrase.

So....while I am now registering for the 2009 Painfest-on-Wheels-with-occasional-pie-tasty-pork-and-naps-by-the-dumpsters, I want to issue this caveat. IF, between now and then I'm approached by a woman of modest wealth, good values, and a knock-you-dead sense of humor (oops, I'm over hyphenating here - sorry) (sorry for that hyphen, too, and these parenthesis now...)(and those ellipsis. I need to stop!).....well, I'll go elsewhere with her, if she asks.

Just so you know. Otherwise, I'll look forward to seeing all y'all!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let the registrations begin

I wanted to be sure to give anyone who is considering riding RAGBRAI this year the opportunity to join the Coe College team. The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is scheduled for July 19-25, 2009. The formal registration process is now underway.

Fees have been set at $375 (a $25 increase over 2008). Of this, $200 is due to Coe by March 1, along with payment for any merchandise you order from RAGBRAI, your completed (online) entry form and signed waiver from the RAGBRAI Web site. The remaining $175 will be due July 1.

The fee includes the official $140 RAGBRAI entry fee (a $15 increase over 2008), a Team CoeBRAI jersey and license plate, bus transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns, and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop.

Additionally, participants should plan to spend $20-$30 per day on food and beverages, bike repairs, showers, etc. Participants will also be able to hire our drivers to set up and/or tear down tents for an extra fee to be negotiated with individual riders who are interested in such a service.

RAGBRAI begins somewhere near Iowa's western border and ends along the eastern border at the Mississippi River. Overnight towns will be announced soon in the Des Moines Register. Again this year, we will seek hosts from among the Coe community at each of the overnight towns.

The first step is to fill out the interest form at the CoeBRAI Web site. Once you're ready to join, you may register online. After creating your profile (or logging in to your RAGBRAI account for veterans), you should choose to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. Please do not send signed waivers or any payments to RAGBRAI. Instead, those should be sent to me, the group contact.

Although the online entry deadline is April 1, we encourage you to meet our March 1 deadline for the initial payment so that we can have a handle on the number of participants, which will be capped at 30. Registered riders who must cancel for any reason will receive refunds according to the following sliding scale: 75% on or before May 1, 50% on or before June 1 and 25% on or before July 1. While we understand that life happens, we must insist on a no-refund policy for cancellations after July 1.

I hope that's enough information to get you started. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact me. Information will also be communicated on our Web site and on this blog.

Ride on!

Lonnie Zingula
Team CoeBRAI captain

Friday, January 2, 2009


So, tonight I complete my online registration for RAGBRAI (not due until March 1 for CoeBRAI participants) and discover the entry fee has increased $15 to $140. In September, we agreed not to raise our $350 team fee. The RAGBRAI portion of the increase was quietly announced in November, but I didn't catch it.

Meanwhile, much has changed. So, though I still must consult with my committee, I would anticipate a modest increase to no more than $400. It's still a bargain for a vacation of a lifetime, but we have to be realistic.

Various Coe departments have generously supported Team CoeBRAI in past years. Following the June flood and subsequent economic downturn, it seems foolhardy to expect the same level of institutional support.

The fee includes the official $140 RAGBRAI entry fee (a $15 increase over 2008), a custom 2009 Team CoeBRAI jersey and license plate, bus transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns, and snack and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop. It also includes variable and negotiable accommodations with Coe alumni, parents and friends at yet-to-be announced overnight stops along the way. (Our record in this regard has been nothing short of spectacular and there's no reason to doubt the generosity of Kohawks!)

I do hope you'll join us for what, for me and Team CoeBRAI, will be the fifth annual effort. To date, 14 people have officially expressed interest. Among them, six are participants from 2008 and five from 2007. How about penciling in July 19-25 on your calendar?