470 miles!

Last week, Des Moines University Trustee Brian Hart, owner of Hart Financial LLC in Des Moines, and his wife, Julie, joined approximately 15,000 other bicyclists from around the world during RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This annual week-long bike ride, now in its 40th year, is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world. While the route changes every year, the ride – which the Register dubs a “rolling celebration of Iowa” – always begins somewhere on the state’s western border on the Missouri River and ends on its eastern border on the Mississippi River. This year’s ride of 471.1 miles was Brian’s and Julie’s fifth RAGBRAI. Below, Brian shares perspectives from the RAGBRAI road, Day 7 – the last of the ride.

RAGBRAI: Saturday, July 28, 2012
Anamosa to Clinton

We were excited to be on the bikes for the last day. We did it! 470 miles in seven days!  A great sense of accomplishment and relief. It was a great day to ride, smooth roads, moderate hills and great riding temperatures. A great finish.

The torturous days earlier in the week will take a while to fade. But they will fade. In golf you can hack around the course for 17 holes, playing awful, and finish with a birdie. You remember the birdies. On RAGBRAI this year, yesterday and today were both birdies.

Last night our group had a send-off gathering. It is fun to see many of the same faces each year, from all over the U.S. We are a support and tenting community for a week. We hope to see each next year, fit and ready to go.

My sister and brother have done the ride this year also. The relationships are key to the success of the week. Other family and friends have joined us in prior years. A friend of ours introduced us to the group when we started.

The DMU people who encouraged me to do this blog wanted to promote an example of a University board member doing something to maintain good health.

RAGBRAI caused me to prepare by training. I was not certain I could ride 500 miles in a week through the hills of Iowa when I first signed up. And now, we just finished our fifth year. I know I can do the miles. I do not expect to be able to do them without preparation.

So I find I am riding more often. Julie likes to ride also. Finding a partner who will regularly encourage  and join you is a key aspect of maintaining a regular exercise schedule.

Some days it is not fun. It is sometimes very low on the list of things I feel like doing. It is, however, the consistency of the activity that adds flexibility and strength to your body’s ability to live well. It is not the 500 miles that makes me more fit. It is the preparation.

RAGBRAI next year? Probably. Trying to keep exercising in some form at least five days a week? Hopefully. Enriched by the people we meet in the pursuit? Definitely!

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