RAGBRAI closes up shop

Emily Arthur

RAGBRAI is finished, but sore muscles and many memories remain for those who took part in this year’s event.

Web Wilke, adviser to the ISU Cycling Club and manager of the residence hall maintenance, rode in this year’s RAGBRAI. He said it’s not something his body or his mind with forget for awhile.

“My legs still hurt from those uphill climbs,” he said.

“Going up the stairs is a little difficult right now, but it was well worth it.”

Wilke has been riding in RAGBRAI since 1994. He said what originally started as him and a few neighbors has grown into the group he now rides with.

He said as a whole, this year’s ride was the toughest he’s been on.

“This was the most challenging RAGBRAI I’ve done,” Wilke said.

“There was a good headwind and that, combined with the hills, made it pretty difficult at times. There was a lot less partying than I remember, because once we reached camp, people were exhausted.”

The weeklong ride spanned across the entire state of Iowa with eight towns serving as stopping points for the tour along the way. Sioux City served as the starting point while Muscatine ended the ride.

Wilke rode the entire route except a couple of miles on Thursday when he rode ahead in order to be on time to meet his daughter.

Wilke said that he had a great time, but that he might of had an advantage over some of the others participating in the ride.

“We had a terrific time, but I think it was on the difficult side for most people,” he said.

“We train quite a bit, so I think we held a little bit of an advantage over some of the others as far as conditioning goes.”

Wilke said that one thing that made the ride a little easier was the weather.

“It was tough, but it wasn’t as hot as it could of been,” he said.

“Most days, we had clouds in the morning and then a little bit of sun the rest of the day.”

Steve Lauber, 36, manager of Bike World, 126 S 3rd St., Ames, also rode in RAGBRAI.

Lauber said he wasn’t sure how many times he’s participated over the years, but said it’s close to five or six.

Bike World took a charter of 170 people and 20 employees on the tour, as well as setting up a retail shop and offering repair on both the road and at the campground.

Lauber said that Bike World could make more money if they stayed in Ames during the tour, but that’s not their goal.

“From an employee’s standpoint, it’s something we look forward to,” he said.

“We still have to work, but it also gives us an opportunity to ride.”

Lauber backed up Wilke’s sentiments about this year’s RAGBRAI being a tough ride.

“It was definitely a tough one, but I think more people this year toughed it out than in years past,” he said.

Lauber said that out of the 170 people in the charter about 10 percent dropped out of the race.

That number includes those who had mechanical problems as well as those who were unable to finish.

Lauber didn’t do the whole ride, but he said that Thursday’s ride was his favorite part of the entire route.

“We got with a good, fast group,” he said. “We covered the first part of the day quickly and never looked back.”

Wilke said his favorite part of RAGBRAI is a hard one to pick out, but that he enjoyed things done as a team.

“When we rode into Muscatine at the end of the ride wearing our jerseys, that was something to remember,” he said.

“One of the other highlights was seeing the Iowa State group ride through.”

Both men said that they had a great time at RAGBRAI and would definitely join the tour again.

“What made it so much fun is the people,” Wilke said.

“Everyone is excited to be there. It’s just so much fun.”