Have you heard of Ragbrai?

If you’re from Iowa, you likely have.  It’s a HUGE bike ride across Iowa.  The ride starts at the west border along the Missouri river and ends a week later at the east border and the Mississippi river.  I had never heard of it until we moved to Iowa.  It’s been going on for years and attracts thousands.

This year, the route was across the northern part of Iowa.  You can see the route in the picture.

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When I say thousands…I mean thousands.

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One year when I was on the library board of directors, the route took riders right through Waucoma.  Community groups got together and put up food stands to feed all the riders coming through.  It is massive.  At that time I knew so little about it and when I heard people say thousands..or when I heard people say it attracts people from all over the world, I was sure they were lying.  WRONG.  It’s the truth.

The ride is very organized.  Bicycle riders have a designated route.  They have to leave towns by a certain time and have to arrive at a certain time.  They can only stay overnight in designated towns.  It makes it easier for all the host towns.    Each day the riders ride anywhere between 50 and 70 miles.  The ride goes on regardless of the heat (which is always the end of July and the hottest days of the year here) and regardless of the weather…rain or shine.

Another year the ride went past the farm where Hubby works.  We were living there then.  Our kids sat on lawn chairs at the end of the driveway and greeted riders.  They would often give the kids pencils or other trinkets as the passed.  It was fun.

Well this year the ride is going through Castalia.  We go to church in Castalia so church is having a food stand.  Pies are the main thing they are selling so pie making is what Kelli and I needed to do.

We opted to make strawberry pies.  Pie have been know to be a big seller for to the bike riders.  We are day 6 of the ride so I am figuring the riders might be interested in something beyond the usual apple or cherry….We had pie making day on Tuesday evening after childcare.

Here are the first six from the oven…half baked at Kalissa’s house, half at mine.


Then another three were made before we were finished.


I know it’s bad to say, but one of these stayed at my house…and one at Kelli’s.  But I looked at it this way….we were never asked to make pies.  We completely volunteered.  So whatever they got was more than they thought they’d have.

I actually like to make pies.  I sure wish I did it more often.  It really isn’t that hard either.  I know one thing for sure, making a pie (or even nine of them) is MUCH easier and more enjoyable (at least in my opinion) then riding a bike across the state of Iowa.

13 thoughts on “Ragbrai”

  1. Your pies look so professional! I learned to make pies from my mother on law, but I don’t practice the art enough to be really good at it. My waistline can’t handle it!

  2. Debra Hageman

    Your pies were SO appreciated, too. Sorry to say, we ran out by 1:30! We planned for 1,000 pieces of pie and ended up closer to 1,250 pieces…..oh, well, we’re a small church and we did what we could. We had many people tell us that we served the best pie of the whole week :) They were the nicest group of people too. So thankful for everything.

  3. My son rode Ragbrai one or more years.( I’d don’t remember how many) He was in high school at the time. It was quite an experience ! He rode across Indiana too and that was every bit as hot but only took 1 day!

    Your pies are beautiful and I’m sure we’re much appreciated!

  4. I have ridden Ragbrai 13 times and remember doing the northern route a couple of times, so very possibly was one of those riders who met your kids at the end of the driveway! The fun thing for me about the ride was meeting all the people along the way and how friendly everyone was. And the food! True, you could eat anything you wanted because you would burn it off quickly. One day was always 100 miles long ~ usually it was Thursday of the ride. I have a huge photo album of all my years of doing the ride as I always took my camera along. So Much Fun!

  5. Your pies look delish and how wonderful that your church put out a stand to help feed them all. I have known a few who have ridden it and most of them gain weight because of all the great food the communities manage to feed them.

  6. Never heard of this race but here on the east coast, we had a race come through our town when I was a kid. It was called Tour DuPont and was intended to be the American version of the Tour de France. I had forgotten all about how we sat out and watched them go by…it was a huge thing! I just looked it up and discovered it was actually started by President Trump in 1986 and called Tour de Trump, but then became sponsored by the DuPont Company which is the part I remember. It ran until 1996 but I only remember it coming through our town once. Thanks for sharing, this brought back fun memories!

  7. We lived in Dubuque in the 70s. My younger brother asked to go on RAGBRAI when he was 14. He was allowed to go along with a friend’s family. My brother is now 54 years old and has gone on RAGBRAI every year since then. He and his wife met on RAGBRAI and have been together ever since.

    Every July, come hell or high water (sometimes literally), they make their way from Colorado (sometimes biking the whole way) and bike across Iowa. Pretty cool.

  8. We were excited to have RAGBRAI go tbrought our towns. The churches went together and had one pie stand and 400 pies were made and we sold out! My family rode the first day but i was banned because the other time when it was the north route I ended up at the host town via ambulance! I was so bummed because I couldn’t experience the food but instead got iV fluids!!! All in all it’s a wonderful experience however you participate!

  9. Oh, My! Your pies look so delicious; the crusts look so flaky and tender. I’ve never had strawberry pie baked this way either,. Would you share your recipe? Bless you for all your charitable work!

  10. I agree (about baking pies vs. riding bikes)! hahaha! Your pies look yummy, and I agree with ShirlR….please share your recipe. BTW, thank you for sharing that rhubarb cobbler recipe. Ever make a strawberry-rhubarb pie????


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