The co-leader of our RAGBRAI team decides after crashing twice to heed her guardian angel.


Mary Riche good mugshot in 2023.jpg

DES MOINES, Iowa, July 20, 2023 — Dear Team (this includes husband Chuck Offenburger and cousin Ellen Roberts):

I’m not riding on RAGBRAI.  I fell this past Sunday night during a training ride on one of the recreational trails in the suburb of Johnston.  Banged up my knee and shoulder; my helmet saved my skull when my head bounced on the trail.  My physical bruises are ugly. It wasn’t a pretty fall.

I’m grateful there were no broken bones.

I’m grateful that my skull was safe in a helmet.

I’m grateful Chuck was there to comfort me – and give me his helping hand to get upright from the ground/trail.

My guardian angel was working overtime on Sunday.  I kept riding so my muscles wouldn’t tighten.  Then she gave me another sign. 

I fell over again, trying to turn around on a connected trail in Urbandale to circle back and make certain nothing had happened to my hubby who was behind me. This time, I fell into a patch of weeds, just off the trail.  It wasn’t pretty.  All over again.

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On a quick stop during our bike ride in Johnston, a suburb on the northwest corner of the Des Moines area. Mary Riche is a veteran of four or five RAGBRAIs, but none since 2014.  Chuck Offenburger is a veteran of more than 30 RAGBRAIs, but none in the last three years.

At that point, I got the message my guardian angel was sending me. 

“You are scared by your lack of training and that means you’re not confident enough to ride in RAGBRAI, regardless of how much you’d like to participate in this 50th year celebration.”

(It starts this next Sunday, July 23, you know.)

I tried bargaining with her. “Angel, I’m married to the Iowa Boy who was co-host of the ride for 16 years. Isn’t it my duty to ride alongside him?”

After my guardian angel stopped giggling about my silly bargaining message, she reminded me that marriage is much more than riding with your husband during RAGBRAI.

As she “placed” her angel wings around me, I accepted my decision.  I’m not riding my bike on RAGBRAI.

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Chuck Offenburger at a trail intersection in Johnston.  You can see a couple other highlights of our recent ride in that community in the photos below here.

I’m disappointed.  And bruised, though my black and blue spots will heal long before my bruised athletic ego.

However, I will be driving a car, transporting my cousin Ellen, my husband, two bikes and gear.  Chuck says this will work, and he’s the expert about all things RAGBRAI.  Except his wife’s riding skills.

I’m still excited about RAGBRAI L. 

And still grateful for Tylenol.


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The Johnston trail system took us to Terra Park, which we visited for the first time.  The wonderful park, located adjacent to the headquarters of Iowa PBS telecision headquarters, was built in 2019 in celebration of the 50th anniversary.of the community’s incorporation.  The “tree of life” sculpture is by local artist Hilde De Bruyne. (These photos are by Mary Riche)

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A close-up of the sculpture, with parts of the “tree” reflecting ideal elements of community life.

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A closer-up view of the sculpture.

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An attractive pergola and bench in Terra Park.

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Late on a trail-riding day, time to head home.

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11 thoughts on “The co-leader of our RAGBRAI team decides after crashing twice to heed her guardian angel.

  1. Mary, though I know you REALLY wanted to ride on RAGBRAI, I’m happy you headed your angel’s warning! There is honor in driving the support vehicle too!

    • Always listen to your angels, Mary. On most days, I know that Chuck would be the first angel on your list ❤️

      • Mary, I’m so glad you’re ok. Why didn’t you call me????? And you write this on Mom’s birthday!!! Please take it easy and let Chuck (your Chuck) take care of you. Love and miss you so much! Xxxxoooo. Bette (your younger sister).

        • City - Blackwood
        • State - NJ
        • It took confidence to join the race and courage to bow out under the circumstances. Ride from the side.

          • City - Washington Township
          • State - Nj
      • My dear bruised friend, how lucky are you to have had that guardian angel so close by and whispering to you that day! We know you are disappointed but are so glad you didn’t break any body parts. Wishing you fast healing of that body and spirit. Carol

        • City - Athens
        • State - GA
      • Good decision not to do RAGBRAI. Hope you are recovering normally. See ya soon.

        • City - Des Moines
        • State - IA
      • Mary, I am filled with gratitude that you did not break any bones or injure your head. I am sure you were very determined to “get right back on the horse,” but your guardian angel plus your innate wisdom had different ideas. You can be most helpful in driving an escort car. I hope your bruises heal very fast and that you accept disappointment with your customary charming grace. Best wishes from Doug’s sister.

        • City - Harriman
        • State - Tn
      • Mary – I am a longtime friend of Chuck and so is my son Scott. I wish you good healing with the bruises. I know how bad they can look since I am a 93 yr old and have lots of them. I don’t know you but anything or anyone who is with Chuck is just ok with me. Just a plug though. The Water works park Beer Garden is run by his Son Alec among other things and just love his getting really involved with the City of Des Moines. So hope you can have a beer and enjoy the ride no matter which way. Hi Chuck

        • City - Des Moines
        • State - Ia
      • So sorry about the crash and admire you looking for God’s grace amidst your disappointment. I cherish my Ragbrai memories every day. feel Molly’s and my presences during the week

        • City - Centerville
        • State - TN
      • So sorry to hear about your injury adventure. Listen to that Angel on your shoulder! Carole

        • City - Jefferson
        • State - IA

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