2,266 mile warm-up
FAIRFIELD — While Erica (Boyd) Thomas, formerly of Washington, and husband Ivor Thomas had talked for a while about biking in RAGBRAI this year, they decided to bike to Iowa from Oregon.
The two live in Santa Cruz, Calif., but hoped to catch the Lewis and Clarke bike trail in Portland, Ore., to ride it into Iowa. The trip to Council Bluffs was 2,266 miles. The 423-mile RAGBRAI was the finale of the trip. The couple began their summer 2013 bike trip on June 3, arriving in Iowa July 18.
“We pulled out an Adventure Cycling map,” she said. “It has routes that are recommended for bicyclists that are low traffic hard-surfaced roads,” she said. “We knew we wanted to come to Iowa to see my family and we wanted to do RAGBRAI together because he had never done it. We looked at the map and found the best route.”
The couple stopped in Fairfield to spend the night Friday. On Saturday, they planned to dip their front tires into the Mississippi River. They said that they plan to return to California soon, catching a plane back. Erica Boyd said they would ship their bicycles back.
Ivor Thomas explained both are teachers and had the summer off. He said they only rent a summer home for 10 months of the year, with the owner staying in the residence for two months. He said they had been looking for something to fill the two months during the summer.
Erica Thomas said that she began riding a “red banana-seat boat” bike when she was about 4 years old. She said her paper route in third grade for The Washington Evening Journal kept her riding regularly. She rode her bike every day after school to deliver newspapers. Living outside of town, she didn’t ride her bike into town too often. She said that she had gone on family vacations where the entire family had taken their bikes to ride trails.
“My mom and dad did RAGBRAI when they were first married, so it is kind of a family tradition,” Erica Thomas said.
She said 2013 marks her third RAGBRAI. She first went on the weeklong bicycle event with her mother, Jan Boyd, in 2010.
“It was in celebration of being able to bike with my mom at an age that she was when she first started,” she said.
While she had a bike, Erica Thomas said that she only rode her bike on occasions when she went off to Northwestern College in Orange City. After she left Iowa and had summers off during her first teaching job, she had the free time to take up biking again.
After her first experience with RAGBRAI, she began biking again.
Ivor Thomas said that he and Erica met when they were teaching in California. He said as a way of breaking the ice, he had fixed up Erica’s bike, “trying to get her attention.” Erica Thomas said that they had become good friends through biking and other sports before Ivor had asked her out. She initially said no, but Ivor’s persistence eventually won her over. When they first began dating, the couple took many bike rides together.
“When we were engaged, I lived about five hours drive from Santa Cruz,” Ivor said. “One Thanksgiving, we were going to take the week and bike to my parents’ house and take four or five days to do that. We didn’t make it all the way, but I think it was Erica’s first taste of what touring was like.”
He said bicycling is a great way to become acquainted with the country, as opposed to driving in a car and flying through everywhere, only stopping occasionally. He says when riding a bike, you meet people that you would otherwise not meet.
“It is a very unique way of travelling and taking a vacation,” he said.
The couple packed their camping gear and other equipment and clothes on the bike, each reportedly carrying about 40 pounds. Erica Thomas said that one perk of RAGBRAI is the Washington-based bicycle club Spokebusters carried the couple’s equipment in its support truck.