I’m driving down I-35 tomorrow to meet up with RAGBRAI and ride a couple days. I first went on this ride 29 years ago and it is what got me into riding. It wasn’t about bike culture, it was just riding. There was bike culture back then - I saw guys in the showers shaving their legs, and noticed guys on one speeds (I figured out later they were track bikes). I was only 12 years old, so for me, culture came later.
Now I’m “in the industry” and I haven’t been back to RAGBRAI for years. I’m excited to go back, and this year I have a bigger connection. Here at work we’ve been kitting out a Livestrong bus for the LAF to take on the ride.
Lance went on RAGBRAI last year for a couple days and was a huge hit. My boss, Steve (Hed) went down to see him and in conversation told him that we could do a ragbrai bus for him. Most Ragbrai-ers are on “teams” and a lot of the teams have a clapped out school bus for their team car. The bus carries team members to the start and then ferry the gear from one overnight stop to the next. The drivers biggest concerns are keeping the coolers stocked with ice and libations, keeping the bus physically going, and not overnighting downwind of the KYBOs.
All the team busses I have ever seen are customized, at least to the extent of chucking out half the seats and rearranging the rest. Many sport roof-top decks, there are rear decks, showers off the sides, huge bike racks…
So anyways, Maggie, one of my co-workers, is good friends John B, with the guy who customized the Roadkill bus. Steve knows this, and tells Lance we can do a bus if he wants.
Of course Lance does - it will be a huge magnet for LAF.
I got to work one Monday last March, and there she was in the parking lot: a ‘79 bus that had last seen service in Mason City, Iowa.
Steve and John started working on it in April and the headlong rush to completion started at the beginning of July. It had to hold 12 bikes inside, and have seating and gear storage for 12. Wednesday we got it licensed and insured, Thursday was for wrapping with the logo, Friday afternoon we were tinting windows, I was drilling holes in the floor (managed to miss a gas tank by a mere 1/2 inch) and rolling around underneath the bus bolting seats in. At 7 we were checking the front wheel alignment and still wiring everything up. The ride started last Sunday, and the bus rolled out Saturday at 3pm for the 5 hour drive to the start at Rock Rapids.
Friends from Iowa have already called to say that they saw it sitting on the roadside broken down - fixing the gas gauge probably should have been a higher priority.