biking across iowa... again.
On July 24, 2022, Clayton, his daughter Alix, and his niece Blythe saddled up to bike RAGBRAI XLIX.
What is RAGBRAI, you ask? Well, it’s an acronym (and maybe the best one ever): the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. And it’s a bike ride, but it’s so much more than that. Started in 1973, RAGBRAI has been a roving party on wheels ever since – and a way to mark the Condit family’s own history:
In 1983, a 13-year-old Clayton and his cousin rode RAGBRAI XI, tailed by a small support vehicle driven by a generous uncle (for safety and tent construction).
In 1985, 15-year-old Clayton biked RAGBRAI XIII with his friends, sans any adult supervision. (This was a big deal and explains a lot about Clayton’s unwillingness, from this point forward, to admit that he ever needs help, despite ample evidence to the contrary.)
In 2017, Barb, Clayton, their two girls, Clayton’s sister, her husband, and their two kids all crammed into a 32-foot RV. They survived RAGBRAI XLV with limited meltdowns.
Brother-in-law Lue with Lance Armstrong!
Plenty of convenient bathroom facilities!
This year, the ride was a little different. Clayton, Alix, and Blythe lived out of their duffle bags and camped in a new place each night. Grandparents provided a dearly needed shower and clean bed for the final overnight.
Something pulls people from all over the world to RAGBRAI every summer. Maybe it’s the food? Each day there are countless food vendors along the route. Mornings mean pancakes and breakfast burritos. As lunchtime rolls around, you’ll see Mr. Porkchop’s iconic pink pig bus and its tell-tale billow of barbecue smoke luring thousands of hungry bikers.
Maybe people do RAGBRAI for the views? Riders are greeted each morning with a beautiful sunrise and low hanging fog over the fields. The corn practically glows over the hills and across the plains. The approaching Mississippi, which marks the finish, is always breathtaking.
Or maybe the attraction is not so easily defined.
From town to town, the bikers are greeted with smiling faces and a much-needed second lunch from local groups using the ride as an opportunity to fund-raise. (There’s nothing like pulled pork from the nice ladies raising money for the local pool.)
Then — effectively halving the present population of the town — the bikers get back on the road. It’s not long until they hear the faint and vaguely familiar sound of old sputtering tractors. But these aren’t really tractors — they’re old tractor engines, reconfigured to churn some of the best ice cream in existence, from Beekman’s. For dinner, local churches host delicious pasta dinners before it’s time to head out for the beer tents and live music.
The riders take part in this great sense of camaraderie — encouraging each other, learning about each other, helping each other with mechanical troubles or first aid. It definitely feels like a team effort, a story that everyone is telling together, 464 miles long, composed of chance and dedication; one we’d like to remember.
So maybe the appeal of RAGBRAI isn’t such a mystery.
See you in ’23 to celebrate 50 years on RAGBRAI L!