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Team Buckley members ride across Iowa

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- From left to right Team Aim High's members include Maj. Jimmy Mindoro, 8th Space Warning Squadron; Maj. Rob Kittell, 2nd Space Warning Squadron; Capt. Rich Shertzer, U.S. Air Force Academy; Lt. Col. Bill Brogan, Aerospace Data Facility; Maj. Mark Gruenewald, 8th SWS; Airman 1st Class Dan Kendell, 8th SWS; retired Lt. Col. Tom Lash, ADF; and retired Lt. Col. Walt Andress, ADF.  It is a tradition to dip one's back bicycle tire in the Missouri River at the start of the ride and to dip the front bicycle tire in the Mississippi River. (Courtesy photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- From left to right Team Aim High's members include Maj. Jimmy Mindoro, 8th Space Warning Squadron; Maj. Rob Kittell, 2nd Space Warning Squadron; Capt. Rich Shertzer, U.S. Air Force Academy; Lt. Col. Bill Brogan, Aerospace Data Facility; Maj. Mark Gruenewald, 8th SWS; Airman 1st Class Dan Kendell, 8th SWS; retired Lt. Col. Tom Lash, ADF; and retired Lt. Col. Walt Andress, ADF. It is a tradition to dip one's back bicycle tire in the Missouri River at the start of the ride and to dip the front bicycle tire in the Mississippi River. (Courtesy photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- RAGBRAI, pronounced "rag-bri," is an acronym for the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

For the past 12 years, Team Aim High, a group of Air Force cyclists from Buckley Air Force Base have been participating in RAGBRAI.

"RAGBRAI is a massive cross-state bicycle ride across the perceived flat state of Iowa," said Maj. Mark, a four-time participant of RAGBRAI from the 8th Space Warning Squadron. "Our focus is recruiting and our goal is to spread the word about the Air Force to people."

"(RAGBRAI) is well known throughout the U.S. and the world," said Lt. Col. Bill, also a veteran of RAGBRAI from the Aerospace Data Facility.

"Each year, 10,000 cyclists ride from a community on Iowa's western border to another community on Iowa's eastern border, stopping in towns across the state," said Airman 1st Class Dan, a first timer on RAGBRAI from the 8th SWS.

The route varies year to year. When the RAGBRAI committee decides if the next year's ride will take a northern, central or southern route, the larger towns along the proposed route compete for bragging rights as a "host community."

Along with bragging rights comes a lot of revenue. Imagine 10,000 hungry and thirsty cyclists with money to spend. Cyclists can find lasagna, spaghetti, pork chops and all the pie they can imagine being served in churches, American Legion Halls and schools throughout the towns.

RAGBRAI began in 1973 when writers from the Des Moines, Iowa, Register came up with the idea to go on a bicycle ride across Iowa and compose articles about what they experienced during the ride.

The length of RAGBRAI varies from year to year, but it is usually 400 to 500 miles long. Eight host communities are selected each year; one each at the beginning and end points, while the other six serve as overnight stops for the bicyclists.

"There is an optional century loop on one day each year for cyclists wanting the challenge, which Team Buckley was ready for and completed," said Maj. Rob, a longtime RAGBRAI participant from the 2nd Space Warning Squadron.

This year, RAGBRAI began July 23 and ended July 29 and covered 444 miles not including the optional century loop, which is 100 miles.

The communities involved in the 2006 ride were Sergeant Bluff, Ida Grove, Audubon, Waukee, Newton, Marengo, Coralville and Muscatine.
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