Monday, February 09, 2015

Book: John and Anna Karras' "RAGBRAI: Everyone Pronounces It Wrong"

This summer, hopefully, I will be riding my bike across the state of Iowa.  This ride, in its forty-third year, is known as RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa).  My Brother-In-Law, who has ridden either all or part of it several times, will be going with me.  He loaned me his autographed copy of John and Anna Harras' "RAGBRAI: Everyone Pronounces It Wrong" to bring me up to speed with the history of the ride and give me an idea of just what I was getting myself into.

John Karras is one of the co-founders of RAGBRAI which he started in 1973 with his friend Don Kaul.  Over the years the number of people joining the ride has climbed.  The ride is now limited to 8,500 registered riders.  There is, of course, no reason you can't ride without being registered so the number is often many more.  During one of the legs of the ride in 1988 over 23,000 people participated.  I think they have officially stopped counting.

The book covers the first twenty-five years and explores how it grew and how it changed over time as the number of riders grew.  You hear how the host towns along the way go all out to welcome the flood of cyclists.  It sounds like a lot of physical exertion during the heat of a July day followed by party time every warm July night.  Oh yeah - and lots of food and drink along the way.  In other words ... it sounds awesome!

The book is an easy read.  John Karras wrote and edited for the Des Moines Register newspaper.  The book reads like a bunch of short newspaper articles stitched together.  This resulted in a bit of repetition and a few things seemed out of order but, while a bit distracting, did not take away from the RAGBRAI story.  Anna Karras' photographs are a plus.  I like me a book with pictures.

A gave this book four stars on Goodreads.  Can't wait to go riding this summer!

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