Central Iowans geared up for RAGBRAI XLV

Annual cross-state bike ride begins today

T-R FILE PHOTO From this July 26, 2012 file photo, RAGBRAI XL (40) riders and vehicles are pictured on Highway 330 near Marietta. Marshalltown hosted RAGBRAI in 2004 and twice previously.

Dana Bresler of Marshalltown paused a few seconds when asked the number of RAGBRAI’s he has ridden.

“Eighteen,” he said.

But today in Orange City, Bresler starts number 19.

For the uninitiated, RAGBRAI is an acronym for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

It is a non-competitive bicycle ride from west to east and organized by the Des Moines Register.

RAGBRAI is easily the world’s largest organized bicycle ride — attracting thousands of participants of all ages from the United States, Canada and Europe.

After Orange City, riders follows a northerly route through Spencer, Algona, Clear Lake, Charles City, Cresco, Waukon and Lansing, a total of 411.4 miles, the third shortest, and third flattest route in RAGBRAI history, according to organizers.

Bresler will add another notch on his bicycle July 29, when he dips his front wheel in the Mississippi River — a rider tradition.

Bresler is an avid bicyclist who rides thousands of miles outside weather permitting, and also inside on a stationary bicycle when weather does not permit.

That includes conducting a group bicycling class during winter months at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA.

It is an excellent way to stay in “bicycle” shape, break a sweat, and burn a lot of calories while riding to music.

Bresler and other instructors keep students motivated with invigorating drills lasting an hour or more.

But with recent heat indexes in the 100s, winter will be the last thing on the minds of approximately 80 patrons who will ride the Iowa Valley Bicycle Club’s sponsored bus to Orange City.

“We have bicyclists not only from the Marshalltown area, but from Central Iowa, and many states, including Florida, joining us,” Bresler said.

On Saturday, he and a team of volunteers loaded bicycles and luggage in semis parked in the Marshalltown Community College’s parking lot.

They removed bicycle pedals to make more room, and then inserted large sheets of cardboard between the bicycles to prevent damage.

The IVBC has helped riders nationwide with busing, bicycle and luggage shipping for 27 consecutive years.

Jeff Harris of Marshalltown’s Black Tire Bicycle Co. said business has been good of late doing repairs for local RAGBRAI participants.

“It has been busier with RAGBRAI-related business today (Friday) than I thought it would,” he said.

Black Tire Co. owner-operator Matt Gerstandt was on his way to Orange City, Harris said.

Gerstandt will be taking care of business, working with a friend repairing bicycles throughout the week. For more information, visit https://ragbrai.com.