Biking the borders

October 16, 2016

It is a Sunday morning in mid-July, and Noah Rowan, sophomore, straps on his helmet, fills up a water bottle and prepares to begin a 460-mile bike ride across Iowa. Noah, along with 17,000 other bikers from across the U.S., participated in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) for a week-long expedition from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River.

“I had enjoyed cycling while I was [in college] and did a lot of off-road biking, said David Rowan, Noah’s dad, who attended Burnell College in Iowa. “I always wanted to do [RAGBRAI] and now that my kids are older, it was a great opportunity to go on this ride.


Noah said he had little experience with biking before he participating in RAGBRAI. He and his dad trained for a total of 10 weeks to prepare for the 4,000 feet of up-hill biking they would be doing each day of the week. Noah and his dad said starting last spring, they scoped out hilly areas around St. Louis to bike in preparation for the ride.


“I’m not someone who is necessarily built for endurance,” Noah said. “And I think endurance sports include the grit it takes to keep going. It was really a challenge to teach myself that. But it taught me [perseverance]. And that’s the spirit of the ride. I wanted to make sure I would make it to the end of every day and take it one pedal at a time.”


Madeline Raimondo, social studies teacher, participated in the bike ride along with Noah and his dad. This was her second time riding in RAGBRAI and she said it gave her the quintessential Iowa experience.


“You’re surrounded by all these people, but [biking] gives you time to process things in your own life and clear your head,” Raimondo said. “During the ride, everyone is so friendly. Nobody has anything to worry about except for biking. People come from all over the country, so it’s a really neat way to meet new people and have interesting conversations.”


Noah said he considers biking a lifelong sport and during the ride he encountered participants ages 7 to 76. He said the solitude of [biking] suits him and he wants to continue doing it throughout his entire life.


“As an introvert, I like the space of being alone and that the sport is centered around the idea that I have to be the one [who] can get me there,” Noah said. “Nobody can compensate for any losses I make.”


According to Noah, RAGBRAI was also a way for him to clear his head while exercising. He said the ride impacted not only his physical capabilities, but his view of the world as well.


“I was able to see the world from a different perspective,” Noah said. “There’s something about spending days riding in a peaceful setting through the cornfields, and realizing how big this world we live in is. It took me a week to cross a tiny chunk of everything that exists. It was a real visualization you don’t really get from a road trip in the car. Using your body to get across a state really puts it into scale.”

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