77 year old Chattanoogan cyclist to ride his 30th RAGBRAI!
Local cycling Legend Bob Haag, 77, aka “RAGBRAI Bob” will be riding his 30th RAGBRAI this year with his Donner Party South team mates
These days RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa is huge, attracting well over 15,000 people.
Bob Haag, 77, aka “RAGBRAI Bob”, will be riding his 30th RAGBRAI this year. Bob, an accountant, began riding in his mid 40's in 1988 to get fit. after three years of riding, he lost more than 40 pounds and was taken off blood pressure tablets, which he had been on for 30 years.
"I began riding seriously with my neighbor, Dr. Don Shields, (now 82), a veterinarian. Don was my inspiration for getting into longer and faster rides. I often tell Don that he may not have saved my life, but he certainly added many years to my life,” said Mr. Haag.
This year’s ride is 60 miles with 2,825 feet of climbing, the fourth shortest ride in history of the event.
Joe rides with his Donner Party South team mates, Joe Nivert, Robert Powderly, Jon Bell and Loretta Lynn Leda.
Joe Nivert, aka “Jittery Joe”, 73, a retired engineer, who worked for Firestone has himself ridden RAGBRAI 14 times.
Jon Bell, 54, also from Chattanooga suffered a stroke about 13 years ago and bike riding has been his saving grace, “I was introduced to RAGBRAI by Joe, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here. I started riding after my stroke about 12 years ago,” said Mr. Bell.
This is Loretta Lynn Leda’s fourth RAGBRAI. “The people along the way are awesome. All the towns come out to celebrate, you feel like a cyclist on the Tour de France when riding through. It’s fun to meet people from all over the country and from other countries, as well as hear their stories. There are many teams who ride together and have fun,” says Ms. Leda. “It’s also very challenging due to the terrain. You wouldn’t think Iowa is hilly, but it is. It’s inspiring seeing kids ride and parents and people riding in honor or in memory of someone with either cancer or Alzheimer’s. This year I will be riding in memory of my mom, who passed away to cancer 13 years ago, and I remember riding with her when I was a kid.”
“Every cyclist should experience RAGBRAI at least once in their life…it’s like no other ride…it’s the best,” says Mr. Nivert. "Riders get up before the sun, pack up their gear, put it on a truck and pedal out to find breakfast and conquer the quest."
Photo: RAGBRAI training ride for Donner Party South, Bob Haag, Jon Bell, Loretta Lynn and Joe Nivert. Credit: Joe Nivert