By Ted Schultz
Herald Staff Writer
While preparing for the 2012 version of RAGBRAI, I often think of a statement attributed to former New York Yankee baseball great Yogi Berra: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
OK, I’m not even a Yankees’ fan … however, Yogi’s quote is not only mildly humorous but also hits the nail on the head.
Why? The 2012 route includes four of the same “overnight” towns as my very first RAGBRAI, wayyyyyyyy back in 2004.
Find all things RAGBRAI as we cover the event.
On my virgin trip of RAGBRAI in 2004, among the overnights were Lake View, Marshalltown, Hiawatha and Clinton … and that’s the case this year (if you consider Hiawatha being the same as Cedar Rapids, the latter being an overnighter this year).
Before I go further, let me introduce myself to those not familiar with me. I served as sports editor at the Clinton Herald from 1995 through 2007 before moving to the central part of the state where I now serve as sports information director at Grinnell College. I had wanted to do RAGBRAI since my high school days, but work always seemed to get in the way. That all changed in 2004 when it was announced Clinton would be the end city for the ride.
I figured, with the local interest generated by Clinton being on the route, “What a perfect year to do my first RAGBRAI.”
I approached Herald Editor Charlene Bielema about writing daily columns for the paper during the ride. That worked out quite well, and I’ve been riding – and writing – since.
We actually begin the 2012 weeklong ride Sunday morning in Sioux Center, which will be a big thrill for me since I went to college a mere 11 miles away in Orange City. In fact, we go through Orange City on our way to Cherokee.
I can’t wait to look around the town and Northwestern College. It’s been a long time!
After Cherokee it’s on to Lake View, Webster City, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, Anamosa and then to Clinton.
Concluding in Clinton will also be exciting as it will be a chance to reconnect with a city where I spent so many wonderful years.
The overall distance of this year’s ride is 471 miles. That seems to be about the average length, and I’ve heard the overall “climb” isn’t too bad so hopefully that means a smooth ride for all involved. Training has been interesting this year, just for the simple fact that every ride up until at least mid-June included a brutal wind from one direction or another. But that was a blessing in disguise, as it prepared me for such a thing if it presents itself on RAGBRAI. And, as you all know, we’ve endured some very, very hot temperatures in the upper Midwest during the past month-plus.
Again, that only serves as great preparation if there are some warm days on RAGBRAI.
Just as in the past few years, Camanche native Rod Schultz will take over writing duties for a day later in the week.
Rod also works at Grinnell College and we’ve ridden many, many miles together over the past few years. I love his columns because it’s great to see a different perspective of the ride.
On a side note, I need to mention an interesting fact I learned about RAGBRAI in last Sunday’s Des Moines Register. I’ve seen older riders on the trip, but still figured the average age of those doing RAGBRAI was 30-35ish. On last year’s ride, it was 45.5 years old. I think that speaks volumes!!
Well, that’s about it for now. I need to get going so I can pack for the trip to Sioux Center! I’ll check in later.
Ted Schultz, of Grinnell, served as the Clinton Herald’s sports editor from 1995 to 2007. Catch his column next week in the Herald and at clintonherald.com.