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Thousands of riders trek across Iowa for Ragbrai 2019

Posted at 11:23 AM, Jul 22, 2019

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — The week-long bike ride across Iowa known as Ragbrai officially kicked off Sunday.

"It's just a great event. It's a lot of fun, everybody's got the same goals. Everybody wants to be on their bikes. It's a lot of fun," rider Dan Needham said.

People from all over gather for the intense ride. Even though people ride upwards to 70 miles a day, they still find time to have a little fun.

"I just had a bloody Mary in there so I'm feeling pretty good," rider Nic Martin said.

Not even down pouring rain could keep these dedicated riders down.

"We're starting in 20 minutes. Rain or not," rider Dave Martens said.

"We've all done it lots of times, rain or shine, we'll ride it anyways. We're addicted," said another group of riders.

They're addicted to the experience.

"This is probably the biggest biking event in the United States and I'd feel left out if I wasn't a part of it myself," Martin said.

Cyclists have been participating in the event for years. They even have team names and gear.

"Team Angry started about 25 years ago. Next year it'll be 25 anniversary for us," rider Joe Simoens said.

"Once again it's Ragbrai. This is Ragbrai 15 for myself," Chicago area rider Chris Devona said.

For some, like Chris Devona, the event represents more than just a bike ride.

"When my grandparents passed away we decided to do it in their honor 15 years ago. We had so much fun we never stopped," he said.

For first time riders however, there's a bit of an initiation. The words "virgin" mark the back of their legs.

It's all fun and games.

"Most of us are drinking a tomato sports drink," one rider said.

And also the nearly 500 mile long bike ride as well.

"There's a lot of socializing, you're right. But they're pretty stout riders. It's not just occasional riders, you really have to train for this," Martens said.

These folks are only starting off the ride, but are already looking forward to doing it all over again next year.

"Because where can you ride for almost 500 miles in a week," Martens asked.

"It's just going out and getting rid of all your electronic devices and having good old fun," Devona added.