RAGBRAI Day 3: 90-year-old cyclists, sleeping at school and church dinner

Clarence Rosenberg, 90, is riding across Iowa for the fourth time this year. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Clarence Rosenberg, 90, is riding across Iowa for the fourth time this year. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

 

Meet Clarence Rosenberg.

At 90 years old, he’s working on his fourth full RAGBRAI, a seven-day, 440-mile bicycle ride across the entire state of Iowa.

This year’s ride cuts across hilly southern Iowa, and today’s route covered 59 miles. That’s after 50 on Sunday and 75 on Monday.

It’s wearing me out, but I love a trip that physically exhausts me. It makes the reward and recovery part even sweeter.

Towns along the RAGBRAI route open their homes to the cyclists, who pitch tents and sleep in their yards. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Towns along the RAGBRAI route open their homes to the cyclists, who pitch tents and sleep in their yards. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

The towns along the RAGBRAI route unroll the carpet. Residents open their houses to more than 15,000 cyclists, who camp in their yards and shower in their homes.

Tonight our group of eight from Velo View Bike Tours is sleeping in the choral room of the local high school in the small town of Leon, population less than 2,000 people.

A cyclists relaxes at a beer stand along the RAGBRAI route. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

A cyclists relaxes at a beer stand along the RAGBRAI route. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Tonight we’re sleeping in the choir room of the local high school in Leon. (Glee club tonight!) We ate a spaghetti dinner served up at the local Catholic church.

Tomorrow’s a big day. Riders choose between 68 miles or an optional loop to make it 100 miles.

The ride celebrates all things Iowa, from farmers to cornfields to craft beer and beautiful roads to cycle. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

The ride celebrates all things Iowa, from farmers to cornfields to craft beer and beautiful roads to cycle. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Rosenberg, the 90-year-old, is planning on the century. That’s just how he rolls.

He’s logged thousands of miles over the years, and plans to ride nine centuries before the 2016 season ends.

Rosenberg’s son, who’s in his mid-60s, is tagging along for this year’s ride. He smiles broadly when I tell him I admire his father.

He’s proud of his dad, too. Clarence spent 30 years as his wife’s caretaker after she had a stroke at 52, he tells me. She’s passed away now, and Clarence is making up for lost time.

Clarence’s advice on living a long time?

“Keep on pedaling.”

I think I will.

Participants in RAGBRAI collect bands for each ride they complete. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Participants in RAGBRAI collect bands for each ride they complete. Photo by Pam LeBlanc


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