How it started…
This time last year, I clipped an article in the Wall Street Journal about the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI. The ride begins each year on the banks of the Missouri river and ends 400 or 500 miles later on the banks of the Mississippi. What caught my attention in the story was the food. The pork chops, sweet corn, and pie served up in dozens of towns along the way make this the only weeklong bike ride where cyclists are expected to gain weight.
Of course, Iowa has been serving up a tasty feast for political reporters ever since Jimmy Carter’s White House campaign, just a few years after the first RAGBRAI in 1973. And over the years, the NPR political team has gorged on caucus campaigning—the candidate suppers, the church coffees, and the deep-fried offerings at the Iowa State Fair.
But this is different. RAGBRAI offers a chance to see the Iowa landscape at a slower pace than out the window of a rental car or a campaign bus. A chance to talk to Iowans about something other than the latest crop of presidential wannabes. And a chance to escape the sweltering heat and humidity of Washington in late July for the slightly less sweltering heat and humidity of Iowa!
Who could resist?
So for the next week, NPR’s Don Gonyea, Brian Naylor, and I will throw our middle-aged legs and tummies into the challenge, ably assisted by our crack producer Arnie Seipel. We’re on vacation. Our editors bear no responsibility for this project. But we’ll be sharing photos, menus, and observations along the way. We call our team No Pie Refused (NPR). And we hope to provide an ample slice of the RAGBRAI experience.
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