My first road ride…across Iowa

July 20, 2014

by Nikki Javurek, PeopleForBikes government relations manager

Image: Flickr

I’m riding across Iowa for RAGBRAI®, this week. The ride can be anywhere between 40 and 80 miles a day for six days. You're probably thinking to yourself, “Ahh, that’ll be a piece of cake for you because since you work at PeopleForBikes. You’re probably riding 100 miles a day with your customized kit, climbing 10,000 feet and catching mad draft!” (those are cycling terms, right?)

The reality of it is I am terrified. So terrified that for the past three weeks since I was oh-so-sweetly coerced into riding the whole of RAGBRAI by the Iowa Bicycle Coalition’s Executive Director, Mark Wyatt, that I’ve been having dreams (or should I say nightmares) about everything that could possibly go wrong. 

I, Nikki Javurek, am what I call a “Point A to Point B” bicyclist, which is exactly how it sounds. I like spending time on my bike lolling around town, going to and from work or the grocery store or throwing my dog in the basket and going to the dog park. I just recently purchased my first-ever brand new bike (in the past used bikes were good enough for me!). And here's my true confession: I’ve never even been on a road bike.

Me and my dog, Oskar, cruising around Boulder.

So why am I riding RAGBRAI?

RAGBRAI, the biggest group ride in America, wanted to do something to make a big difference for bicycling in America. Not only did they ask PeopleForBikes to be a sponsor of the ride, but they made Wednesday, July 23rd PeopleForBikes Day! We were honored to be invited to join RAGBRAI and I ended up going to the Announcement Party in January in Des Moines to represent PeopleForBikes. It was an amazing experience where I got to meet the nicest people ever, rock out to an awesome band, and see the crowd go wild when a town called Okoboji was announced as one of the overnight towns. Okoboji!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when we were finalizing details. I got an email from Mark saying, “I couldn’t help but notice that ‘Nikki Javurek rides all of RAGBRAI’ wasn’t part of your summary…” and that was it. I’m pretty sure “Iowa Nice” is the new “Minnesota Nice” because I thought, “Hey, why the heck not?!” At the time of commitment, I forgot that I was taking a vacation where I wouldn’t be able to do any training between then and the ride, but what does that matter? I was going to do RAGBRAI!

Image: Flickr

Now, three weeks, a few hundred dollars in gear, dozens of hilariously awkward conversations with friends, colleagues (and one amazing mayor!) about chamois cream, and mayyyyybe 65 miles of “training” later, I’m in Iowa.

I have no doubt that it’s going to be hard. Hopefully not “soil your chamois” hard, but definitely hard. It’s going to be hot. It’s going to be long. It’s going to be painful. But I have heard nothing but amazing things about this ride that I’m not too focused on the hard things. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the so-nice-your-cheeks-hurt-from-smiling-so-much people that I met back in January, meeting a lot more of those nice, corn-fed folks (hey, I’m originally from Wisconsin, I can say that!), making sure people know about the great work we’re doing at PeopleForBikes to make everyone’s ride better, and creating some fantastic memories.

P.S. At this point, I’ll take any and all pointers, tips, best practices, dos and don’ts and anything else you think I should know, so post them in the comments for me! And a little cheerleading wouldn’t hurt either!

Our 2013 East Coast Crew during a stopover at RAGBRAI last year.

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