Friday, October 17, 2014


With RAGBRAI registration opening Saturday, Nov. 15, I’d like to take a minute to refresh everyone about how to sign up. 

RAGBRAI veterans will receive an e-mail with registration instructions. Virgins will first need to create a profile at the RAGBRAI Web site. You will then want to join the group CoeBRAI (#32344) before submitting your entry. The new registration system will allow riders to pay the $160 RAGBRAI fee (plus any apparel purchases) by credit card at the time of registration. For simplicity, I’d prefer to collect all payments and then send RAGBRAI one large check for our group.

Two vans and a moving truck have been reserved to transport 21 week-long riders and their bikes. We will NOT be adding vans to accommodate overflow. Fees for Team CoeBRAI will remain $450 for Coe alumni, faculty, staff and students. In an effort to ensure priority for Coe folks, those who don’t fit into one of these categories will pay $500. Half of the fee is due as a non-refundable deposit by March 1, along with a completed (online) entry form and signed waiver. The other half will be due July 1.

Checks should be made out to Coe College and sent to Lonnie Zingula at Coe College, 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.

The fee includes the official RAGBRAI entry fee, transportation to and from Cedar Rapids and the starting/ending towns and within each overnight town, some meals, and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at each overnight stop. We will again be producing a Team CoeBRAI jersey, but it is not included in the entry fee. Information on ordering a jersey will be provided after the first of the year. This will be completely optional.

While many people participate in RAGBRAI without registering (aka: riding rogue), it is Team CoeBRAI policy that all riders and drivers be officially registered. You can certainly save money by riding unregistered, but you’ll need to find another team. Team CoeBRAI plays by the rules.

Here are some important dates to remember:

Nov. 15 – RAGBRAI XLIII registration opens
Jan. 24 – RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party
March 1 – First half of payment due to CoeBRAI
April 1 – Deadline for weeklong rider registration
May 1 – Lottery results posted
May 15 – Deadline to request a registration refund
July 1 – Final payment due to CoeBRAI
July 17 – CoeBRAI preload
July 18 – transport from Coe to start town
July 19-25 – RAGBRAI XLIII
July 25 – transport from end town to Coe

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mission accomplished

For the record, 28 members completed RAGBRI XLII this afternoon after a scenic 70-mile trek from Independence that featured beautiful landscapes, fast descents and two challenging climbs.

I'll write more tomorrow, after a good night's rest. For now, a picture.

Friday, July 25, 2014

An epic ride to Independence

Epic and memorable were among the kindest words used to describe Friday's 67-mile ride from Waverly to Independence. Other descriptors are not fit for print.

Waking to heavy rain in Waverly, most of our group wasn't dissuaded from the challenge and endured rain, strong headwind and cool temperatures for most of the morning. Team captain Lonnie Zingula opted out and is writing this post on second-hand reports.

One of our riders was treated for hypothermia in Tripoli, where Coe alumna Chastity Kalise Mueller had set up a special stop for Team CoeBRAI. A hot shower, dry clothes and rest were just what the doctor ordered, literally, for Kathy Matthes, who plans to finish the journey tomorrow.

Hosted for the second time in Independence by Steve and Mary Ohl, a calm night is anticipated before we make an early morning run to the river.

Sixty-nine hilly miles are all that remains of RAGBRAI XLII and CoeBRAI X. If all goes as planned, we'll be dipping our tires in the Mississippi by mid-afternoon.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On to enemy territory

Today brought Team CoeBRAI 66 miles to Waverly, home of the rival Wartburg College Knights.

With the help of our awesome host, Coe parent Linda Brandt, the Kohawks win again.

Sprinkles and threatening weather curtailed our evening activity, but the sky is now mostly clear as we hope for Mother Mature's continued blessing.

Tomorrow's ride is a carbon copy: 67 miles and 1,623 feet of climb to Independence.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Over the hump to Mason City

Day four brought a short scenic ride along Clear Lake to Mason City. None of the four H's - heat, humidity, hills or headwind - were present for the 695 feet of climb spread over a mere 38 miles.

Coe legacy, alumnus and parent Kurt Lichty '78 and his daughters are hard at work making a grilled chicken dinner before the big Brett Michaels concert tonight.

Tomorrow we'll fly the crimson and gold into Knight country, as it's college jersey day for the 66-mile pedal to Waverly.

14 for 14

Century riders, that is.

Fourteen brave CoeBRAI souls earned century patches after adding the 25-mile Karras Loop to an 80-mile day.

The wind shifted rather spectacularly just before 7 a.m., though not enough from the west for anyone's liking. Regardless of direction, all would agree less of it is best.

We should get that wish tomorrow for the 38-mile walk in the park to Mason City. And continued dry weather is a big plus.

Here's today's gratuitous food shot:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 2 to Emmetsburg

Varying reports on the degree of difficulty of this 40+ mile day. Continued southerly winds presented an added element as we followed a southeastern route from Milford. Suffice it to say, no one wished for a longer day.

That'll come soon enough.

Tuesday's 80-mile trek to Forest City presents for the hardiest among us the Karras Loop and an extra 25 miles of cycling. Weather wise, we should get a push out of Emmetsburg before the wind switches to the northwest for a continued assist.

Here's a few photos from today.
Pork chop for breakfast.

Sweet corn for lunch.

Casino buffet for dinner.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

CoeBRAI mawage in Milford

Sixty-nine windy miles culminated in Milford with a CoeBRAI first: a wedding. Veteran support drivers Abby Masters and Ryan Workman tied the knot at the home of Abby's relatives Laurie and Arnold Bates.

The bride wore a dazzling tiara. The groom wore a cheap tuxedo t-shirt. Leah Fuhrman was maid of honor. Bridesmaids were Amy Wiezorek Schork and Lisa Zingula. Bob Untiedt was best man. Padre Lonnie Zingula officiated.

The couple plans to honeymoon across Iowa, starting tomorrow in Emmetsburg, a 40-mile ride for the cyclists among us.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

RAGBRAI eve from Rock Valley

Twenty-nine CoeBRAI riders - plus our awesome 4-person support crew - made the 300-mile trek to Rock Valley for the start of RAGBRAI XLII. Our fleet of three vans and one large moving truck left
Coe promptly as scheduled at 10 a.m., arriving in Rock Valley by 4:30 p.m.

Our host is Chris Reinke, boyhood friend of 2010 Coe alumnus Kyle Polich.

Tomorrow the adventure begins with a 69-mile ride to Okoboji, where a very special moment in CoeBRAI history will take place. More on that then.

Friday, May 2, 2014

RAGBRAI 2014: A Primer

Now that we’re officially in for RAGBRAI, I thought I’d share a few tips as reminders for veterans and a primer for virgins.

Thirty-three riders strong (plus the best damn support team in RAGBRAI history!), we include 12 Coe alumni, a parent and four members of the college staff. Ages range from 24 to 72. In addition to 21 Iowans, team members hail from Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri, Utah, Illinois, South Carolina and Washington, D.C., with one rider joining us all the way from Ecuador. Twenty-six riders have been with Team CoeBRAI at least once in the past 10 years, while we welcome seven new folks to the fold, including one of our hosts from 2013.

Our support staff/drivers include veterans Ryan Workman, Abby Masters and Lisa Zingula. Joining them this year is Jean Beer, the wife of CoeBRAI veteran Bob Beer.

Jersey orders are due May 20. Final payments are due July 1 from any riders who haven’t already paid in full. We will refund $100 to anyone who has to back out before July 1. No refunds for cancellations in July.

Here are some packing tips, based on nine years of RAGBRAI experience:
  • Please put identification on everything you take on RAGBRAI.
  • Bicycle equipment: Helmet is #1. Bicycle shops can handle most any mechanical need you have, but you might consider bringing a small repair kit that includes a tire, spare tube, tire irons and small wrenches. As long as you get your bike serviced before RAGBRAI, it should be good to go. In addition, a rear view mirror, bike gloves, pump, bike bag, rain gear and water bottles are necessary equipment. Everyone doesn’t need to bring a pump, as enough will that we’ll have plenty to share.
  • Camping equipment: You'll need a 30-gallon plastic tub, such as the one pictured here, sleeping bag, pillow, pad, tent, ground cloth, rope, stakes and a flashlight. A collapsible chair will also come in handy. It need not fit into your plastic tub, nor does your tent. The tubs are just a handy way to tote items from town to town and also offer protection from the rain. For extra protection, pack what you can in large ziplock bags. I have a small supply of tubs should anyone, particularly out-of-towners, wish to use them. The one-tub-per-person rule will be strictly enforced. On RAGBRAI, less is more.
  • Toiletries: Pack a towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, skin lotion, shampoo, soap, razor, nail clippers, brush/comb, hair ties/barrettes, deodorant, mirror and toilet tissue.
  • Clothes: T-shirts, shorts, a jacket, pants, warm-up suit, underwear, socks, shoes, sandals, sleepwear, swimsuit and sweatbands/bandannas should get you through the week. Two sets of biking attire are sufficient from my experience -- one to wear and one to dry out after "washing" it in the shower. Some of you ordered a CoeBRAI jersey and a few also ordered a RAGBRAI jersey, which you will receive upon arrival. Remember also that each overnight town has a t-shirt they would like to sell you. Be sure to bring padded biking shorts!
  • First Aid: Pack aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamins, Band-Aids, gauze, tape, first-aid cream, lip balm, sun block (lots of it!), insect repellent (even more!), safety pins, special medicines, Campho-Phenique and sanitary protection with disposable bags if needed. Remember the key to a happy hiney: Chamois Butter before and during, Gold Bond powder after. Avoid this advice at your own peril.
  • Miscellaneous: Bring an alarm clock, spare glasses, sunglasses, a scouting knife, camera, watch, earplugs (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Trains, rock concerts, civil defense sirens, etc., will inevitably disturb your effort to get some rest. Bring earplugs!), ID, money, credit cards, journal, pens, stamps, plastic trash bags for rain protection and zip-lock bags. Be sure to enclose everything in a water-tight plastic bag. Did I mention earplugs?
  • Food: Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided in camp. You may also want to bring a box of Power Bars and keep one on your bike for when you need a quick energy boost, but don't want to wait in line for pie. I’m still working out details, but it appears we will be on our own for dinner most nights. Anything else you may want or need can be purchased by our support crew during their daily store run. Bring a small cooler for anything you don’t wish to share. Anything left in the large team coolers will be fair game for all.
  • Electronics: Cell phone/Internet service is usually epically spotty with the crush of humanity on rural Iowa. But we will have charging stations available in camp. Please send me the number of the cell phone you will have with you and also the name and contact information of your emergency contact.

I’m still working out the details, but our schedule will look something like this:
  • 6-8 p.m. Friday, July 18 -- pre-load in Eby Fieldhouse parking lot with optional social gathering at the Home Port
  • 8 a.m. Saturday, July 19 -- finish loading
  • 10 a.m. Saturday, July 19 -- departure from Eby parking lot at Coe
  • Noon Saturday, July 19 – lunch stop en route
  • 3 p.m. Saturday, July 19 – arrive in Rock Valley
  • Sunday, July 20-Saturday, July 26 – bike 418 miles across Iowa
  • 3 p.m. Saturday, July 26 – dip tires in Mississippi at Guttenberg
  • 5 p.m. Saturday, July 26 – arrive back at Coe
  • 6 p.m. Saturday, July 26 – celebration dinner at Casa Las Glorias

Our hosts in each overnight town are:
  • Rock Valley – TBD
  • Okoboji – Laurie and Arnold Bates, relatives of Abby Masters
  • Emmetsburg – relatives of a colleague of rider Bob Untiedt
  • Forest City – friends of Ryan Workman
  • Mason City – Kurt Lichty ’78, the son of a Coe alumna and father of a current student
  • Waverly – Linda Brandt, the mother of a recent Coe graduate
  • Independence – Steve and Mary Ohl, a former Coe Admission staff member who also hosted us in 2007

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Coe cycling apparel: order deadline May 20

Creative Director Christina Kroemer has done it again with her winning design of 2014 cycling apparel for Team CoeBRAI and Kohawk cyclists everywhere.

With the Kohawk logo silhouetted on a gold background, Coe cyclists will stand out in the growing bike-friendly crowd. In its 10th consecutive year of participation in the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), Team CoeBRAI will model the 2014 apparel July 20-26 from Rock Valley to Guttenberg. We’ll be flying Coe crimson especially proudly on College Jersey Day July 24 from Mason City to Waverly, home of rival Wartburg College.

In addition to long-sleeve, short-sleeve and sleeveless versions of the jersey, we have added wind jackets to the Coe cycling apparel line. We are again offering Coe biking shorts and bib shorts featuring the school’s Charlie Kohawk logo. While the jersey design changes each year, the shorts are intended to stand the test of time.

Orders are now being taken for jerseys ($60 for short sleeve and sleeveless, $75 for long sleeve), jackets for $75, and shorts for $70 ($75 for bibs). Order forms are available here and on the right column of this page. All orders must be received by May 20 and will be shipped by mid-July. Apparel will be distributed to CoeBRAI participants on departure for RAGBRAI.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A word about refunds

As payments continue to roll in, I thought I should clarify our cancellation policy. We’ve maintained a no-refund policy for the $225 deposit, but that doesn’t seem fair when we are overbooked. Because of this, we will provide a full refund (minus the cost of any merchandise you may have ordered) to the first three riders who have to cancel. After three cancellations, we will revert to our normal policy of refunding $100 to anyone who has to back out before July 1. No refunds for cancellations in July.

If there are no cancellations, that’s perfectly fine. We’ll make it work. But the reality of the situation is that we have 35 registered riders and seats for transporting 32 (at the most). Anything over that and we have to make special arrangements. Anything under 32 just means a more comfortable drive to the start and home after the finish.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dues and don'ts

As previously reported, the cost of participation with Team CoeBRAI is $450, which includes the RAGBRAI registration fee. We ask that half ($225) be paid on March 1 with the remainder ($225) by July 1. If you ordered a RAGBRAI jersey or other merchandise, please include that cost in your initial payment.

No money should be sent to RAGBRAI. Checks made out to Coe College should be sent to Lonnie Zingula at Coe College, 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.

Now that I have an email group set up, I should be able to communicate more easily. However, if you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to check our Twitter account, Facebook page, and/or before sending me an email. Chances are good your question has been asked and answered before.

As far as hosts, we're in pretty good shape with places locked down or solid leads in Emmetsberg, Forest City, Mason City, Waverly and Independence. Pickings are slim in Rock Valley and Okoboji, so if you have any leads, please point them my way.

Monday, January 27, 2014

RAGBRAI 2014: Small towns, northern ride

A return to small-town Iowa is in store for more than 10,000 riders rolling across the state in RAGBRAI’s 42nd year.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa — the world’s oldest, largest and longest tour of its kind — begins this year for the first time in Rock Valley and ends 418 miles later in Guttenberg. Along the way, riders will stop overnight in Okoboji, Emmetsburg, Forest City, Mason City, Waverly and Independence. This year’s ride is July 20 to 26 (riders camp in Rock Valley on July 19).

RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz said the northern route goes back to RAGBRAI’s small-town roots after 2013 stops in Council Bluffs and Des Moines and a 2012 visit to Cedar Rapids.“There are no massive towns,” Juskiewicz said. “We’re getting back to smaller communities, which are the perfect size for RAGBRAI.”

Just one overnight town has a population over 10,000 — Mason City, which has only seen RAGBRAI come through once, 29 years ago. For those who remember the last time the ride rolled through town, in 1985, Mason City may look a bit different. “They’ve done a ton of downtown development, and they’re anxious to show it off,” Juskiewicz said.

The last stop, Guttenberg, is also the smallest, at 2.12 square miles and 1,919 residents. This is Guttenberg’s fifth time wrapping up RAGBRAI on the banks of the Mississippi. 

The river-to-river ride also gives some love to two locales that have never housed riders overnight: starting point Rock Valley, which served as a pass-through town in 1985; and Okoboji. The Iowa Great Lakes and their surrounding towns are the collective stop-over for RAGBRAI this year. Only Milford has been a pass-through town, most recently in 2005. “Okoboji is one of the better known areas in the state, so to not go there in 42 rides has been amazing,” Juskiewicz said. “So this is the year.”

The overnight towns were announced one by one to a crowd of cyclists Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. When Juskiewicz revealed the final name — Okoboji — a group in front of the room shot confetti into the air. “I’m so excited,” said Lyda Neuhaus of Okoboji, a part of that group. “We worked so hard to make sure the community comes together.”

With RAGBRAI coming through the resort area at the height of summer, Juskiewicz expects vacationers to make it a RAGBRAI weekend. “When the circus comes to town, it’s kind of exciting,” he said.

This year’s route is remarkable for its ease, length and pitch. At 418 miles and with 11,316 feet of climb, it is the third-shortest and second-flattest route in history. There has only been one route since RAGBRAI began in 1973 that was less difficult by those criteria. “It is a true northern Iowa route, and it’s very flat,” Juskiewicz said. “And when we’re up in that corner of northeast Iowa, the state is a little smaller.”

The last day’s ride into Guttenberg is the most challenging, with 3,073 feet of climb, twice the climb of the day before. The longest ride, 73 miles to Forest City, is bookended by two short days, of 41 and 36 miles. Juskiewicz hopes that makes it possible for more than the usual one-third of riders to tack on the Karras Loop on July 22 and make the longer ride a century, or 100 miles.

Though there might be some “grumbling” about the short days, Juskiewicz said, everybody wins those days.“People love some of the short days,” he said. “People get a chance to go out and enjoy those towns, and then there’s people that go to spend five hours in a bar.” Plus, less-experienced riders may be more inclined to take part on a short ride. “We have people who don’t have the ability to ride an 85-mile day with tons of hills, so that gives them an opportunity to experience RAGBRAI for the first time,” Juskiewicz said. “Anything that’s going to get people off the sofa and on a bicycle is good for our state.”

Here’s a day-to-day breakdown of this year’s route:

Rock Valley, Saturday, July 19
Population: 3,354
The northwest Iowa town of just 3,354 is based not on the Missouri River, but the Rock River — though the town center is only 10 miles from Iowa’s western border. Campsites abound at Rivers Bend, a 94-acre quarry-turned-recreation site that opened in 2009. RAGBRAI has never spent a night in this Sioux County town, though it rolled through once in 1985.

Okoboji/Iowa Great Lakes, Sunday, July 20
Population: 9,960
Climb: 1,771 feet
Mileage: 69
Iowa’s great lakes and their surrounding towns will welcome RAGBRAI overnighters for the first time, on their first stop of 2014. The town of Milford has served as a pass-through four times, most recently in 2005. The popular recreation area is no stranger to big sporting events: the fictitious University of Okoboji this weekend is holding its 34th Winter Games, which include boot hockey, brain freeze trivia and a snowball drop.

Emmetsburg, Monday, July 21
Population: 3,904
Climb: 1,078 feet
Mileage: 41
This town of 3,904 offers recreation for kayakers and campers, golfers and gamblers. It is home to Five Island Lake, Five Island Golf Course and Wild Rose Casino, as well as a few offbeat attractions, including a privately owned doll collection, an optometrist’s eyeglass collection, and a hand-built replica of the TV home from “Little House on the Prairie.” It’s the town’s first time hosting riders since 2002.

Forest City, Tuesday, July 22
Population: 4,151
Climb: 1,333 feet
Mileage: 73
Ride into Forest City, population 4,151, on two wheels and ride out with a few more. The Winnebago County seat is home to the camper factory of the same name. Tour Winnebago’s facility or the Mansion Museum, an 1899 banker’s home on the National Register of Historic Places. In nearby Pilot Knob State Park, take in a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps tower, and Iowa’s only floating bog of sphagnum, a type of moss. This will be Forest City’s fourth time as an overnight stop on RAGBRAI.

Mason City, Wednesday, July 23
Population: 28,079
Climb: 695 feet
Mileage: 36
The river to river ride’s midway point stops at the famed “River City,” Meredith Willson’s pseudonym for his hometown of Mason City. The largest city on the route, with a population of 28,097, celebrates Willson’s “Music Man” with a square modeled on the film’s set. Frank Lloyd Wright also made a mark on the town with his Stockman House. It’s only the second time Mason City appears on RAGBRAI’s route — the last time was 29 years ago, in 1985.

Waverly, Thursday, July 24
Population: 9,874
Climb: 1,743 feet
Mileage: 63
The home of Wartburg College invites cyclists to unwind for the first time in 15 years, and its third time overall. The “dairy spot of Iowa” was known for its creameries and condenseries, a source for Carnation condensed milk. Today, a historic trail takes visitors through Waverly’s past along an abandoned rail line.

Independence, Friday, July 25
Population: 5,966
Climb: 1,623 feet
Mileage: 68
Set in Amish Country, on the banks of the Wapsipinicon River, the town became known for its five-story flour mill, a kite-shaped racetrack and an opera house, all before the 20th century. Its renown for horse racing was surpassed in more recent years by auto racing; the 3⁄8-mile oval at Independence Motor Speedway has weekly late model and sprint car races. Independence last welcomed RAGBRAI in 2007.

Guttenberg, Saturday, July 26
Population: 1,919
Climb: 3,073 feet
Mileage: 68
It’s been nine years since Guttenberg’s 1,919 residents welcomed RAGBRAI to their banks of the Mississippi, in the northeastern quadrant of Iowa. At just 2.12 square miles, the town is the smallest on the route. It’s also the most challenging destination, with 3,073 feet of climb on the way from Independence. The town gets its name from the German inventor of the printing press. The community celebrates its heritage every fall at Guttenberg Germanfest. Guttenberg previously welcomed riders to its limestone bluffs in 1980, 1987, 1996 and 2005.

Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 route

On the eve of the big RAGBRAI XLII route announcement, we have 11 registered riders and one verbal commitment. That leaves eight spots for CoeBRAI X.

So far, our roster includes myself and veterans Judy Floy, Kate Fashimpaur, Greg Brown, Bob Beer, Jill Davis, Paul Barlett, Jim Lund, Roger Bear, Tim Wagner and Amy Schork. Joining us this year as longtime RAGBRAI veteran Bill Goldberg from Utah.

I'll be tuning into the route announcement Saturday night, either from home or the Sag Wagon Deli & Brew. I'll post information as soon as I can.

You can also follow along yourself at See details below:

Can’t make it to the RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party? Don’t miss a minute of the action, tune in to our live coverage on the home page starting at 8 pm this Saturday!

Or, keep an eye on our social media pages for photos, updates and more:
• Twitter: Follow @RAGBRAI_IOWA for updates.
• Facebook: Become a fan of RAGBRAI on Facebook