By MARY RICHE
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.
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.
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.
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)
A close-up of the sculpture, with parts of the “tree” reflecting ideal elements of community life.
A closer-up view of the sculpture.
An attractive pergola and bench in Terra Park.
Late on a trail-riding day, time to head home.
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