Why do RAGBRAI cyclists ride across Iowa? For some it’s a memory while for others, an adventure

It can be as simple as burritos or as meaningful as a father’s memory.

Every cyclist who pulls on bike shoes has a different reason for joining the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This year, more than 15,500 people from around the country and across the globe are signed up to ride.

They are excited for a new challenge, to push their bodies, to become healthier, to spend time with loved ones and honor those who have passed.

More: From the RAGBRAI 2022 route to its history, here’s everything you need to know

Here’s what some of them told the Des Moines Register about their reasons for biking across Iowa in a weeklong journey beginning Sunday.

Texan rides in memory of his father

Terry Swets is riding his first RAGBRAI in memory of his late father, right.

Terry Swets is riding his first RAGBRAI in memory of his late father, right.

Terry Swets felt fate drawing him to ride in this year’s RAGBRAI.

Swets, of the Austin, Texas, suburb of Georgetown, had heard a lot about RAGBRAI — his dad rode the route a few times and brought back his stories. They had planned on riding together, but various circumstances always intervened.

Then on Nov. 10 last year, Swets’ father passed away. He was 79.

Before his father’s death, Swets had been reading stories on the RAGBRAI Facebook page to see what the ride was like. After his father passed, he messaged the page’s moderators to share his Dad’s memories and tell them how wonderful the experience had been for his father.

Someone responded, he said, and thanked him for sharing — and told him that the ride’s co-founder, John Karras, had died the same day. The person also told him registration was opening in just a few days without the usual lottery system.

Swets signed up as soon as registration

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