• Posted Aug 19, 2004

Richard Rose of Team Checker rides a a wooden-wheeled bike in RAGBRAI...

Every one of the thousands of participants in RAGBRAI has a story to tell, but there seems little doubt that Richard Rose of Dunlap had a truly unique experience in July 2004. Richard, a member of Team Checker, is believed to be the first person to ride a wooden-wheeled bike in RAGBRAI - the 490-mile weeklong journey made by cycling enthusiasts each summer. Rose has several antique bicycles and a while back he began a wide search for a pre-1900 era bike. Sure enough, he found the bike just about in his own back yard. He bought the bicycle from Arthur Dorland of Woodbine. The bike had been in Dorland's family since 1899 when his grandfather bought it at a farm sale for Arthur's dad to ride when he was 15 years old. Once he had his bike, Rose decided to take on a personal challenge. He would try to rebuild the old bike and see if he could make it across the state on RAGBRAI. "I had to completely tear it down and redo everything on it," Richard said. Where did he find the 1890s era parts to restore the bike? "E-Bay," Richard said with a smile. The parts came from all over the country - the seat from Kentucky, the wheels from Washington State, the kerosene lamp from West Virginia. But the basic structure of the bike - the frame, crank and fork - remain from the bike Richard bought from Arthur Dorland. The idea to ride the bike on RAGBRAI started out "as a joke," Richard said. "Everybody thought I was nuts." However, when the 10,000 or so cyclists launched RAGBRAI on July 24 in Onawa there were 45 members of Team Checker among them and Richard Rose was one of them. Richard and his antique bike were easy targets for some old-fashioned Iowa scoffing. "Cave man riding junk," yelled Sam Cogdill, founder of Team Checker and Richard's brother-in-law. The antique bike performed well with one exception. The solid rubber tire on the back wheel kept trying to come off. Also, with direct drive, the bike's single speed kept Rose traveling a fixed pace. And there was no coasting. Along the way, Rose and his bike attracted plenty of attention and he greatly enjoyed communicating with people. "I wanted folks to know that you don't have to have expensive high-tech equipment to enjoy RAGBRAI," he said. "RAGBRAI is not a race." When Richard and his wife Marty reached Fort Dodge they ran into John Karras, one of the originators of the 32-year-old bike ride across Iowa, the largest of its kind in the country. It was Karras who said he believed Richard was the first to do RAGBRAI on a wooden-wheeled bicycle. "It was a lot of fun," Richard said about his weeklong journey. The 200 hilly miles in eastern Iowa were certainly a challenge, however. Going downhill was actually the most difficult, Richard said, as he pointed to the single hand brake on the bike. There were also a couple of days of solid rain. Still, Richard averaged 11-13 mph on his antique bike. "That's not too shabby," he said. Richard also attracted media attention, including a mention by Des Moines Register columnist John Carlson. A Des Moines TV station crew had Richard fire up the kerosene lamp on his bike so they could film it. As Richard's RAGBRAI journey - his ninth, all with Team Checker, neared its end - Sam Cogdill showed his respect for Richard's accomplishment. Sam asked Richard to lead Team Checker into Clinton, Iowa and to be the first to dip his wheel in the mighty Mississippi River. Source:

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