Group helps RAGBRAI riders with physical disabilities make cross-state journey
POCAHONTAS, Iowa (KTIV) - Monday was day two of the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa and riders had to make the 71.2-mile journey from Ida Grove to Pocahontas.
The seven-day journey across Iowa is possible for riders of all abilities, but sometimes the logistics of overnight stays can be challenging for some people. For some riders with physical disabilities, a journey like RAGBRAI might seem impossible. But this week, there is a group of 50 adaptive riders aiming to finish the 460-mile journey thanks to one group who gave them a boost of encouragement.
“Our team is completely made up of individuals who have physical disabilities who want to ride on RAGBRAI. We also have support riders to ride with them,” said Hannah Bowman, Adaptive Sports Iowa Director.
Adaptive Sports Iowa is a team made up of 50 riders of all abilities from across the nation. The group first started riding RAGBRAI in 2011 and has told riders “Yes, you can” when they were often told “No” before.
“I really wish I could do like, more the full week. So I got on the internet and looked around. And I found this group called Adaptive Sports,” said Emily Medina, Adaptive Sports Iowa Rider From Des Moines, Iowa.
Nearly 10 years ago, Medina did one day of RAGBRAI but had trouble with accommodations. She then did a quick Google search if there was a group that could help her and found Adaptive Sports Iowa.
“This team is just a one-of-a-kind treasure. They just opened so many doors and I couldn’t do it without them,” said Medina.
Team leaders go through all overnight towns in advance to set up accommodations for the group like housing. All riders are sponsored, and the team rides with their own team bike mechanic, team nurse and their own sag wagon, a vehicle that follows behind bicyclists to pick up those who drop out or to carry gear.
“We all help each other. I normally have a little bar that everyone can give me a little push up the hills now and then, because you know, I’m pedaling with my arms, not my legs,” said Tiffany Rodriguez, Adaptive Sports Iowa Rider from Serra Vista, Arizona.
And there’s one motto the team lives by every single day: Disability is not inability.
“I hope it’s a message that if you really want something, you can do it. It may take work. It may take time. The first year, I didn’t ride every mile. But I slowly worked up. Last year I did every mile except 30. So it’s 30 miles short. This year, I’m going to do the whole thing,” said Medina.
Adaptive Sports Iowa brings riders in from all over and tells them, “Yes you can!” If you saw the team out on the road this week, you’d see them cheering each other on every part of the journey.
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