Backround: Lance Armstrong, winner of seven Tours deFrance, has made it public that he would like to come to RAGBRAI to help further the agenda he has concerning cancer research and fund raising for his foundation. What it is: RAGBRAI, (acronym for "Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa" ) is a week long trek across the state on paved roads. Originally started as a challenge between two Des Moines Register writers, the ride has morphed into the largest week long, organized recreational rides in the U.S.A. It features a daily route covering approximately 70 miles on average, and is catered to by food and beverage vendors at various points all along the route. Once the "Ultimate Party Ride", RAGBRAI has become far more tame in the last ten years, but still carries the reputation of wild, out of control parties, featuring drunkeness, nudity and other forms of debauchery. It's route can still be filled with hundreds of drunken bicycle riders way after the sun goes down, even though the "official" closing of the route is at six in the evening everyday. To be fair, there are a large number of decent, clean riders on RAGBRAI, but they are certainly overshadowed in the overall veiw of the ride by the "party riders" in the minds of the public.
Guitar Ted Rant Mode engaged!: I have been reading with interest about the giddy reactions and unreal expectations the Iowa public has about the news that Lance is going to "ride on RAGBRAI" I hate to be the shiny, pointed object that bursts the bubble, but Lance isn't going to "ride" RAGBRAI like "you" think he is going to "ride" RAGBRAI.
Riding RAGBRAI like most folks do includes using a bike as a means to transport yourself from one vendor stand or bar to another to over indulge yourself on home made pie and cold beer. (if you can call any mainstream American adult beverage "beer"...hrrumpf!) Not that there is any thing inherently wrong with that pursuit, it's just not really about "riding bikes" anymore. It's, well..............it's RAGBRAI! You know! It's something uniquely different that just happens to use bikes as a tool to reach some other objective. That "objective" being a variable depending upon the time of your departure every morning of the ride. (RAGBRAI'ers know what that means...it's code for something!)
Anyway, Lance isn't going to be doing any of that! Oh no! If he shows up at all, ( it's not guaranteed that he will) he will be doing highly structured, pre-planned, "spontaneous" looking public appearances. Some while riding a bike, (for a short period of time at an unannounced point on the route) or some while posing with various cancer patients, survivors, and other political people, pundits, and luminaries. He won't be sleeping in a tent, or an R.V. He'll be coming in and out of Des Moines, where the route of this years RAGBRAI scrapes the northern suburbs of that city. He won't be partying, drinking beer at a local bar, or hob nobbing with any RAGBRAI "teams". In fact, most RAGBRAI riders won't even see him, and have a better chance of doing so on the local six o'clock news reports.
Not that there is anything wrong with what Lance is doing, (there isn't, really) it's just that he won't be doing it with you, RAGBRAI rider. He'll be using the publicity generated by the rides reputation to further his agenda. You on the other hand, will be going about your merry way as a RAGBRAI rider, none the wiser.
And don't even think for a minute that this legitimizes RAGBRAI as a "real" cycling event! We're not even going to go there!