By Stacy Brothers
RAGBRAI is known nation-wide. The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is celebrating its 40th year in July of 2012, and it’s never been more popular. There is another bike ride, however, that is near and dear to Iowans and grows in attendance each year. The BRR Ride (Bike Ride to Rippey – pronounced burrr, as in it is cold out here!), sponsored by the Perry, Iowa Chamber of Commerce, has been held every February since 1977. Known as the “Original WINTER Bike Ride” (or the Winter RAGBRAI Reunion), BRR riders travel a 24 mile round trip from Perry to Rippey and back, regardless of the weather. Riders have experienced everything from below frigid temps and zero wind chills to unseasonably warm weather like we had this year, which made for some very slushy riding conditions for over 1,000 riders.
This year’s theme was EmBRRacing the Chill. The theme was captured in this graphic by award winning cartoonist Brian Duffy, who is an avid cyclist and BRR veteran of 26 years
Many consider the BRR Ride the official opening of biking season in Iowa. Like RAGBRAI, famous for the friendliness and hospitality of the small towns that dot the route, BRR Riders experience traditions of their own, such as home cooked food served at welcoming churches and beer specials at the taverns in town. Unlike Ragbrai, the route is mostly flat, so the main challenge for the riders is the weather. Ask anyone who has ridden the BRR, they’ll tell you it’s worth it (and to wear layers.) It is a great chance to get your bike out of storage and shake off a little cabin fever.