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PHN Physician Participates in Weeklong Cycling Event Through Iowa

Every year during the third week of July, the state of Iowa holds a week-long bicycling event called the Register’s Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). The ride has been held for 41 years and is the oldest, longest, and largest bicycle touring event in the world. Started by two writers of the Des Moines Register newspaper in 1973, RAGBRAI was originally created to increase interest in the rural areas of state. Since its inauguration, the ride has taken several different routes across Iowa, with the goal being to have the cyclists ride through as many towns as possible. Since it began, RAGBRAI has grown to have more than 25,000 riders throughout the event, and world-famous cyclist Lance Armstrong has been an event volunteer for the past several years. PHN physician Rick Humphrey, a CRNP  completed the entire ride this year (his third time ) and has participated in portions of the event several times over the years. Rick, who graduated from high school in Iowa, says “this event allows me to go back home and see things at a slower pace.” He likes the fact that the ride puts him “in the moment” for seven days, and he feels like time slows down. The majority of participants camp out at night, and their gear is taken to the next overnight town the next day.Another great part of the event is the eclectic group of people who participate. There are entire families riding together, including children riding in a covered bike trailer or kids riding a portion of the route for two or three days. Many people in retirement enjoy the ride, and Rick even met a few people in their early 80s. One cyclist on Rick’s team came all the way from Germany to ride, and two other members of his team had been to every ride since it began.Dr. Humphrey says that depending on the route choice, the length of the ride is approximately 450 miles, and there is a decent climb in elevation on the course (the cyclists ride from west to east). Each day participants ride between 60-80 miles, with one day marked for a 100+ mile ride, which is a tradition for the older participants who rode in some of the earlier RAGBRAI events.Training for this ride is crucial, and Rick states that it takes between 700-1000 miles of cycling to prepare the body for the complete event. Without this preparation, riders can sustain blisters or their hands can become numb without proper handlebar wrap and gloves. Wearing the right cycling shoes is also an important factor; shoes with stiff soles can take some getting used to, and shoes that allow you to clip onto the pedal promote the effort into forward momentum.

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