From cancer awareness to college spirit, RAGBRAI filled with stories aplenty
August 03, 2012
Above are members of Team Handlebar from Gretna, Neb., donning their University of Nebraska-Omaha garb to celebrate College Spirit Day.
Tim Wilson of Mount Vernon kept a watch for collegiate colors while greeting riders on Eighth Street. By 9:30, he had spotted 11 of the 12 Big 10 teams and gave a special shout-out to a rider wearing the colors of Wilson's alma mater, Penn State. Though a spectator this year, Wilson rode in RAGBRAI III, the first year it was named RAGBRAI.
Representing the Army
Vladimir Kazberouk cycles as a singular representative of the U.S. Army. Two of his anticipated group members were deployed, the other killed.
Symbolizing his 20-year Army career, Kazberouk sported his uniform while handling a paratrooper bike. "(The uniform) is a little hotter, but you train up to it, and I wore it in Afghanistan, so I'm used to it," Kazberouk said.
The paratrooper bike is rugged. "I've seen (paratrooper bikes) thrown out of helicopters," Kazberouk said. "Plus, they're nice because they fold."
Regina Boutwell and Tom Finn (pictured with the Cornell mascot) got married Friday at the Memorial Park gazebo.
Tom cruised into town as a RAGBRAI participant, the two got married at the park, then they both rode onto Anamosa for their honeymoon.
Regina is the alumni programs coordinator for Cornell.
For the second year, Ken Hart of Indianapolis rode as part of Spokes of Hope: Cyclists Combating Cancer. The four-year-old organization is being represented by eight individuals, five who are cancer survivors. "(Spokes of Hope) is a cancer charity that doesn't ask for money," Hart said. "We raise awareness."
Hart became involved in Spokes of Hope as a result of his wife Cindi's quest for information about bicycling with breast cancer. With advice only available on an American Cancer Society forum, Spokes of Hope emerged during a Livestrong Summit in Ohio. Hart was also diagnosed with melanoma, strengthening his connection to the cause.
Compared to last year, there were seven fewer participants at Spokes of Hope's RAGBRAI appearance, but Hart feels the group has some fame. "This year, we have people who know us," Hart said. "They look for yellow stuff to identify us."
Outside of RAGBRAI, six to 10 cancer survivors from Spokes of Hope visit about a dozen hospitals each year.
Hart himself has cycled since 1972 and is a RAGBRAI enthusiast. "Having been on (RAGBRAI) before I knew that I would have fun," Hart said. "The people are always great."
Riding in her fourth RAGBRAI, Erica McKenzie, originally from Australia now teaching veterinary science at Oregon State, was having a traveling bachelorette party. McKenzie, her bridesmaids from Philadelphia and her twin sister, Fiona from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, were all riding this year, before McKenzie's wedding Aug. 11. As is traditional with "hen parties," as McKenzie called them, the groom was not in attendance.
Third-year RAGBRAI participant Bret Hoiman, an upcoming fifth grader from Emmetsburg, traveled with a group of 60 people. Specifically, Hoiman was with his family, a pack of cycling fans.
"(Cycling) runs in the family," Hoiman said. His father has participated in RAGBRAI for 30 years and his grandmother, sisters, and other family members are also involved.
Hoiman trained for RAGBRAI since last May and received his bike and gear as presents. RAGBRAI was a positive experience. "I love meeting all of the different people and coming down the hills," Hoiman said.
Welcome to town
Greeting visitors was a highlight for many Friday.
Korah Jo Robinson (pictured), waved an American flag as she watched the thousands of bike riders pass by the family's home about three miles north of Mount Vernon on Springville Road. "She really enjoyed waving to the bikers and having conversation with bikers who stopped in our yard to cool off in the shade before continuing up the big hill," said her mother, Kristen.
Sue Johnson of Martelle and Lana Hoffman spent the morning on the edge of Mount Vernon and greeted riders with a friendly wave and good morning. "We ordered the good weather for you," they joked as the RAGBRAI riders came down Mount Vernon Road. Johnson and Hoffman were out before 6 a.m. By 9 a.m. they were watching a steady stream of bicycles.
Johnson was a spectator when RAGBRAI went through Martelle four years ago. She stayed with the Hoffmans Thursday night to make sure she'd be able to have a good seat this year. She said she loves seeing all of the different bikes and the sounds they make as they pass.
Hoffman, watching her first RAGBRAI, said she was amazed by all of the different body types and ages represented.
A favorite for both was a bicycle built for three they saw.
Several local organizations and businesses set up booths to sell drinks and food to visitors.
RAGBRAIers found a wide variety of items - from Gatorade to beer to breakfast burritos to bratwurst with a hint of rhubarb.
By early afternoon, many vendors proudly displayed "sold out" signs.
Riders said the short ride Friday, the picturesque setting and the nice weather made Mount Vernon a great place to spend some time.
Biking from Britain
Drew Buck traveled all the way from England to provide a blast from the past Friday. Dressed in what he considered older cycling garb, and riding a three-speed, 95-year-old bike, Buck fielded questions and interesting comments from many a cyclist. Buck rode the whole tour on the antique while sitting on an old, hard, leather seat and, as with European tradition, carrying a rope of onions.