There are many events throughout time that are steeped in tradition. RAGBRAI is one of these events. The Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is a bike tour unlike any other in this country. Averaging 68 miles a day across the beautiful (and surprisingly hilly) state of Iowa, approximately 20,000 riders set out for seven days of excruciating fun. This year marks the 39th year of the ride and all the rich traditions that accompany it: Dipping your rear tire in the Missouri River and (eventually) front tire in the Mississippi, writing “Ragbrai Virgin” on your legs with a permanent marker to commemorate your first trip, stuffing your face with breakfast burritos from Farm Boys, and, of course, enjoying many well deserved, ice cold beers.
Less of a tradition and more of a fundamental staple, beer comes in at a close second to water as the Ragbrai drink of choice, easily beating out any electrolyte or energy drinks, and it was my pleasure to have plenty of Schlafly on hand. With coasters tucked in my spokes and frosty Kölsch in hand, I was a lightning rod for those interested in what it was, and for folks “in the know” who wanted to find out where they can find some.
The good people in the small towns of southeast Iowa were thrilled to find out that Schlafly would be coming to them, and that starting August 1st 2011, Schlafly Beer would be delivering American Pale Ale, Kolsch, and Pale Ale to their local markets.
While the grand ride through Iowa is full of Iowans, there are a great deal of riders from all over the country and quite a few within the Schlafly distribution area. I ran into them, or they into me, while refueling at Mr. Pork Chop, or standing in front of an open fire hydrant, or eating my weight in homemade pie, or climbing a hill (trust me, there ARE hills in Iowa), or simply coasting along and chatting. I was approached by a few guys in brand new Schlafly Bike Jerseys who were excited, to say the least, to find out I had a cooler full of Pale Ale back at the team support vehicle, an old retrofitted school bus - an expressive and resourceful Ragbrai tradition.
According to some veterans of the annual tour du Iowa, it seemed more people than previous years are skipping the American light lager tents and starting to seek out craft beer. Perhaps Ragbrai is on the brink of a new tradition, and maybe the cold beers on future rides will not just be well deserved but also well made.