By Makenna Yoerger
Special to the Herald
The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) is celebrating its 40th anniversary as Iowa’s oldest and longest bicycling tour event which ends this year in Clinton with the ceremonial tire dip into the Mississippi river.
An estimated 11,000 registered cyclists will be riding every day which makes the mission, motivation and experience diverse for the individual.
For Clinton residents Emily and Matt Steenhard, RAGBRAI will be a three-generation family affair. Emily, Matt and five-year-old son Reagan will be riding in their inaugural event, as Emily’s mother and father, Sandy and Garry Land, drive the family’s support vehicle.
Literally, the Steenhard family ride has them practically attached at the hip as they ride a tandem bike with a tag-a-long attached. Matt and Emily are avid riders and like to bike as a family. However, with an energetic and curious five-year-old, they found that staying altogether along the ride was somewhat of a challenge. Approximately one year ago the family purchased what Emily affectionately calls the “Three Hump Wump” bike, named in part after Dr. Seuss’s “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”
Not only does this bike make it easier for them to ride together but also is more enjoyable because they can communicate effortlessly with each other.
“Riding together on one bike has been so much fun for our family,” says Emily. “Reagan often sings and points out regional wildlife on our travels. On RAGBRAI we look forward to learning more about Iowa’s historical significance in the towns and cities we travel through as well as enjoy time in the evenings playing cards and games with mom, dad and friends.”
As a family, the Steenhards plan to ride five to 10 miles a day and for safety purposes will be surrounded with a convoy of friends they met in college. Matt will also be taking a road bike and plans to complete the additional mileage each day to finish this year’s 472-mile track. He has been preparing for this year’s ride using an online training program found on the RAGBRAI website. His regimen includes two to three 20 mile rides during the week and a 30 - 70 mile weekend ride.
Some might think the completion of RAGBRAI is a grueling accomplishment, but for the Steenhards and Lands the experience is all about having fun as a family.