Monday, July 27, 2009


All of us on Team Simpson owe a huge thank you to Kelley Bradder, Bob Lane, (both pictured) and Chris Goodale for their roles in organizing and supporting our week-long ride. They were up every morning preparing the camp for our departure, and then Kelley and Bob packed up all of our belongings and moved on to the next site to set up for our arrival. In many ways, all of us who were riding RAGBRAI had the easier job every day. Many thanks to Kelley, Bob, and Chris for organizing and making the ride much more memorable and enjoyable than it would have been without their hard work, support, and encouragement.

John Byrd

Mile 491

Jason '97 and Jacki Harrison Askelson'97 joined the rest of Team Simpson in dipping their front tires in the Mississippi River. The RAGBRAI tradition is to dip your back tire in the Missouri River at the beginning of the ride and your front tire in the Mississippi at the end.

After dipping our tires, we were hosted by Robert and Elizabeth Whalen, parents of Team Simpson member David Whalen. As has been our experience all across the state, the Whalen's were generous with their hospitality and provided the team with great refreshments before we headed home. The ride back to Indianola was quiet as we recovered from the week-long ride, reflected on our many experiences, and contemplated the opportunity for another RAGBRAI in 2010.

John Byrd

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mile 488

Team Simpson gathers for one last group photo before heading into Burlington. It has been an absolutely fantastic week to ride, and as we finish, it provides for a most bittersweet moment. There is a great sense of accomplishment among everyone who has ridden this week, but at the same time it is hard to see RAGBRAI come to an end for 2009. We have made so many great friends and experienced the warm hospitality of so many Iowans as we crossed the state. It has been exciting, challenging, and rewarding - all in all, an adventure that we will all long remember.

John Byrd

Mile 446

The Chair of Simpson's Board of Trustees, Fred Hubbell, and his brother, Mike, prepare to lead the way on the final day's ride into Burlington. It has been great having Fred and Mike as members of Team Simpson for the entire week.

Once again, we were spoiled by our overnight hosts. In Mount Pleasant, Barb Gibson Kennedy '75 and her husband, Doug, extended a warm welcome to Team Simpson at their beautiful, historic home just two blocks from the town square. We camped under the canopy of the large trees in their yard and enjoyed the fresh-baked treats that Barb prepared for the team. The lemon bars really tasted great after a hard day's ride.

Today's ride promises to be an easy one with sunshine and a westerly wind on our ride east, all the ingredients for a great day of riding.

John Byrd

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mile 373

Cinnamon rolls at last! Simpson hosts Mary Datisman Frisbie '64 and Morris Frisbie '65 (pictured, right) provided one of the highlights of our trip when they prepared homemade cinnamon rolls as part of a hearty breakfast this morning. We also enjoyed sausage, eggs, muffins, and fresh fruit - a wonderful way to start the day.

Mary and Morris were joined in welcoming Team Simpson to Ottumwa by their neighbors, Bill and Mary Lee Hansen and Jack and Sue Kirk. Altogether they provided a wonderful campsite and great fellowship during the evening. Many thanks to all of them for a most enjoyable visit to Ottumwa.

It was a great day to ride on Thursday. When we arrived in Ottumwa, most of us had taken the Karras Loop around Lake Rathbun which made for a day's ride of 107 miles. Our only disappointment of the day was when John Bolen's recumbent bicycle broke down, preventing him from being able to finish the ride.

We are looking forward to Friday's ride, our last long day before a short ride into our final destination of Burlington on Saturday.

John Byrd

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mile 360

A typical scene, this one in Blakesburg, of hundreds of bicycles lined up as riders take a break to rest and seek refreshment.

Mile 330

I had a chance to meet up with Chris Goodale (he and I pictured here) around noon to enjoy a bite to eat before continuing today's ride. We are in Moravia, Iowa, which has been very important to Simpson College over the years. It is the home of Simpson trustee Mary Rose Main '53, honorary life trustee Dick Smith '53 and his sister, Maxine Weinman '49, and Laurie Dowd Gowdy '89, who was an all-American softball player at Simpson.

It has been a beautiful day. We have finished the Karras Loop which will allow us to get 100 miles in today. Right now we're at just about mile 70 for the day. The sun is out, it's heating up, and as I post this, I see Professor Steve Rose walking up to join us. Everything is going great and we look forward to getting to Ottumwa later today.

John Byrd

Mile 262

Team Simpson prepares for another day on the road as Bob Lane loads the equipment truck.

We have been fortunate to have Kelley Bradder and Bob serve as our very capable support team. Every day as we break camp they load the gear, drive to our next overnight destination, unload, and have everything ready for us when we arrive. Thunderstorms rolled in overnight, but we woke to a beautiful blue sky and it looks like it will be a perfect day to ride to Ottumwa. Several members of the team have indicated they will probably ride the 100 mile loop today.
John Byrd

The evening of Day 4

As usual we had a lovely back yard in which to pitch our tents. We spent a wonderful evening sitting around and sharing stories of the day's ride. It has been a great week. Many of us are already beginning to regret that there are only three days left.

We were grateful to be hosted on our overnight in Chariton by Darrin Gregory '07 and Andy Hansen '08. They welcomed Team Simpson warmly and the cookies and brownies were especially appreciated!

John Byrd

Day 4

Dave Enzler takes a mid-day break on the ride to Chariton, Iowa.

There were many opportunities to stop and take advantage of all of the attractions in the pass-through towns today. There was a lot of energy in Milo and Lacona especially. Everyone on RAGBRAI seemed to be grateful to have more time to spend on an especially beautiful day on a shorter route.

John Byrd

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mile 215

Team Simpson riders endured a cold, windy, wet, and hilly day yesterday riding 77 miles into Indianola. Just as the first Simpson riders were arriving, the sun broke out in Indianola and provided for a glorious evening of activities all over the Simpson campus, around the square, and all over town. I know that all of us felt a great deal of pride with the way Indianola and Simpson College handled the RAGBRAI riders. We received many positive comments about the beauty of the Simpson campus and about the hospitality of everyone in Indianola. Many thanks to everyone who made the evening in Indianola what will no doubt be the best reception on this year's ride. We are riding to Chariton today. We have a beautiful, sunny day and look forward to a much more pleasant ride.

John Byrd

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mile 139

Ryan Rehmeier breaks down his tent in preparation for the third day of riding in RAGBRAI.

Two myths were broken yesterday - Iowa is not flat and it is not always hot in July! It was a cool, damp day, but everyone had a very good ride with many small towns to go through. We all experienced the warm Iowa hospitality. We were hosted last night by the Bax family. They were very gracious hosts and we enjoyed spending time with them. Courtney Bax will be a senior student in biochemistry at Simpson this fall. Everyone has their Simpson jerseys on today and we look forward to the 77-mile ride and the opportunity to visit with our friends in Indianola.

John Byrd

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mile 76.5

Dave Enzler, Burton Kirkwood, (pictured) and I stopped for breakfast in Stanton, Iowa at Evangelical Covenant Church, one of many places to eat along the way. Unfortunately they are out of cinnamon rolls, though, so we're moving ahead!

John Byrd

Mile 63

Simpson Registrar John Bolen enjoys a quick breakfast before heading out for Day Two. Team Simpson was hosted overnight by Simpson alum Deanna Viner Archer '62, whose hospitality was just fantastic. We enjoyed camping at her hilltop house out in the Iowa countryside. Campers were a little slower getting out of their tents this morning before taking on today's 71-mile ride. Everyone is doing well and we look forward to completing today's hilly route.

John Byrd

Mile Zero

Ben Fisher and Team Simpson get ready to depart from Council Bluffs to begin RAGBRAI 2009. Excitement has been building since we left Indianola yesterday, and as we break camp I know everyone is anxious to get started.

Thanks to Charlie Schilling '89 and Kim McMartin Schilling '90 for hosting Team Simpson last night at the Mid-America Center. The accommodations were superb and we enjoyed their warm hospitality. We have a great day, perfect weather, and it looks to offer absolutely perfect riding conditions. It's been great to see so many alums come back for the event with over 50 riders participating on Team Simpson. We look forward to connecting with old friends and making new ones.

John Byrd

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flaunting the Red and Gold into Burlington!

Saturday, July 25, will be the conclusion of our adventure together and the end of RAGBRAI XXXVII. Team Simpson will gather in West Burlington at 11:30 a.m. on the corner of South Broadway Street and Division Street. Together, wearing our Simpson College jerseys, we will ride the last 3.2 miles through Burlington to the tire dipping site. There you are free to dip your tire, take victory pictures, get souvenirs and complete other activities as you wish.

The location where we will pack the bike truck and depart is the home of Robert and Elizabeth Whalen, who are the parents of Simpson Team member Dave Whalen ’85. They live 1.5 miles from the dip site at:

527 S. Gunnison Street
Burlington, IA.

Your daily map for Day 7 will have directions to both the dip site and then to the Whalen’s. Please have your bikes at the Whalen’s by 1 p.m. It will take us some time to pack the bikes but we will depart as soon as we can. We anticipate being back to Indianola between 5 – 7 p.m.

The last minute details are being arranged, and Saturday is just around the corner. We can’t wait to begin!

Gathering supplies for Team Simpson's 500 miles trek across Iowa

Visiting Simpson College and Indianola

Some of our riders will be staying in their own homes and not in Simpson College facilities on Tuesday night. Because of the dorm setting, we will not set up the canopy and chairs, as we would in other overnight locations. Instead, we hope you will participate in the activities we have planned on campus.

The gear truck will be parked in the Simpson College Campus Service and Goodwill parking lot on the corner of Clinton and Howard Streets (the old Hy-Vee parking lot). The gear truck will be unlocked for easy access. As riders arrive in Indianola and get their gear, we ask that you close the back door when you depart.

Riders who are staying on campus, will be staying in the Station Square Apartments, on the corner of Detroit and Howard Streets, directly across the street from where the gear truck will be parked. Check-in and check-out procedures will be in your rider packet that you will get on Saturday (or when you join the ride).

Like other days, gear will need to be in the gear truck by 9:00 am on Wednesday morning.

Below are the Tuesday events that have been planned to welcome RAGBRAI to Simpson College.

STOP BY the Simpson Welcome Center on C Street in front of Cowles Athletic Center anytime Tuesday from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. We’ll have the latest info on campus events, showers and all things Simpson. Be sure to discover our rich 150 year history through a self-guided tour or let one of our students show you around! Meet Simpson College President John Byrd from 3–5 p.m. (if you miss him, just look for him on the ride as a member of TEAM SIMPSON.) Stop by for free ice water, tours and a Simpson reflective Spokestix.

GRAB A CUP O’ JOE WHILE YOU SURF at our Internet CafĂ©. Open Tuesday 8 a.m.–8 p.m. & Wednesday 8 a.m.–noon in Dirlam Lounge, Smith Chapel. Starting at 5a.m. Wednesday, watch for our golf cart roaming the campgrounds for coffee, newspapers & other necessities to kick-start your day.

TWITTER AWAY in our computer labs with free web access. Labs are located in Carver Science Hall & will be open Tuesday from 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

CATCH UP with the world at Dunn Library – find TVs, web access, newspapers & magazines. Enjoy extended hours Tuesday from 8 a.m.–midnight. Wednesday open at 8 a.m. A TV can also be found in Brenton Student Center and Dirlam Lounge.

GET A BITE at one of our three concessions stands open from 9:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. on Tuesday and 5 a.m.–noon on Wednesday. Locations include Bill Buxton Football Stadium, McBride Baseball Field and the Simpson Softball Field. Items include baked potato bar, walking tacos, smoothies and assorted beverages. Morning fare will boast muffins, fruit and coffee.

LOOK SMART in a t-shirt from the Simpson College Bookstore. Open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday. Be sure to pick up a 10% off coupon at the Simpson Welcome Center.

GOT ART? We do! The building is cool but the art is even cooler. The Paintpushers, a group of 13 talented local artists, will have their works on display in Farnham Galleries located in Mary Berry Hall on Tuesday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

CATCH A FREE FLICK. Catch the 2007 film, The Final Season- filmed in Iowa. Multiple showings at 1, 4 & 7 p.m. in Camp Lounge of the Brenton Student Center. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

CALLING ALL SIMPSON ALUMNI! Join us under the red and gold tent in front of College Hall between 5–7 p.m. on Tuesday for a Red & Gold Reception, RAGBRAI-style! We promise it’ll be a dilly of a time! All are welcome, so invite your friends. (If weather is inclement, event will be in Hubbell Atrium of Carver Hall.)

KARAOKE . . . Need we say more?! Be a rock star at Club Storm in Great Hall located above Pfeiffer Dining Hall. Tuesday 5–9 p.m. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

EAT ALL YOU CAN for dinner & breakfast in Pfeiffer Dining Hall located next to Buxton Park’s main campground. Tuesday 5–6:30 p.m. $9.95 per person – Menu includes pasta bar, carved roast beef, baked potato bar, pizza, salad bar and dessert. Wednesday 6–8 a.m. breakfast $6.95 per person – includes fresh fruit, ham, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, egg sandwich with croissants, blueberry pancakes, waffle bar and yogurt bar with assorted pastries. Beverages and snacks will also be available through Pfeiffer Express on Tuesday from 1–5 p.m.

OOOO AND AHHH at the beauty of a Nite-Glo. Three tethered hot air balloons will light up the night at McBride baseball field on E Street. Come and see one of the gorgeous sights that make Indianola known around the world. We’ll start just after sunset, weather permitting. Concessions will be available.

Our next pre-ride blog, will cover the departure details from Burlington to Indianola on Saturday, July 25.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Indianola departure details...

Remember we would love to have your bike and gear on Friday, July 17, at 2 pm. The bike truck and gear truck will be in the southwest corner of the Hillman parking lot on the corner of Clinton and C streets. Please remove your bike pedals before we load your bike. We will have pedal wrenches on site if you do not have one. We will ask you to be responsible for your own pedals; we don’t want to mix them up! Please contact me if you have a non-traditional bike, such as a recumbent, tricycle or tandem. It will help our packing efforts.

Otherwise, we will see you at 10 am on Saturday, July 18. We expect the loading and packing process may take between two and three hours, so please plan to be patient as we want to make sure to handle everyone’s bike and gear with care. Departure from the Hillman Hall parking lot around 1 pm. A pizza lunch will be provided by the Simpson Alumni Office prior to departure. We will be distributing rider packets that will contain your daily maps and other information. Those of you, who are joining the team after Saturday, please check with Bob Lane or Kelley Bradder to get your rider packet.

We need to know if you will be leaving a car at Simpson while you are gone to make sure you have an appropriate parking pass for your car.

You may want to bring a book or reading material with you for the 2 -2 ½ hour trip to Council Bluffs.

So please take a minute and drop me an email at Let me know your parking needs and if you have a non-traditional bike. Your help will make our Saturday departure process go smoothly.

We will have two more blog posts before we depart: Indianola overnight details and Burlington departure information.

Happy packing!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Overnight Hosts for Team Simpson RAGBRAI 2009

Below is the list of our gracious overnight hosts for RAGBRAI XXXVII. Remember, we are providing you with compact laminated daily maps with the bike route on one side and directions to our overnight hosts on the other side. So no need to create maps yourself! The maps will also have our drivers' cell phone numbers, in case of emergencies.

Council Bluffs
Mid-America Center
One Arena Way
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501
Hosts: Kim McMartin Schilling ’90 and Charlie Schilling ’89
(Charlie is the General Manager of Mid-American Center)
We will be camping on the Mid-America Center grounds very close to the Bass Pro Shop. Advance tickets to the Ribfest and Bare Naked Ladies concert are still available, contact by 9 am Monday, July 13.

Red Oak
Deanna Viner Archer ‘62
1497 210th Street
Red Oak, Iowa 51566
(Remember that this host lives 1.5 miles off the route on gravel.) Deanna hopes to have indoor storage for our bikes.

Brad and Kaye Bax
2171 Hwy 92
Greenfield, Iowa 50849
(Their daughter Courtney is a current Simpson student.)

Indianola – staying on campus or at home

Darrin Gregory ‘07
1518 Linden Ave
Chariton, Iowa 50049

Mary Datisman Frisbie ‘64
Morris Frisbie ‘65
2878 Oak Meadow Drive
Ottumwa, IA 52501
(They have two neighbors who are helping them host – a total of 6 bathrooms available!)

Mt. Pleasant
Barb Gibson Kennedy ‘75
402 East Monroe
Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 52641

Our hosts are excited to meet and host Team Simpson riders. What a great way to connect the Simpson Community.
Upcoming blogs will feature Indianola events on Tuesday and our final details.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ten days and counting! Below are additional logistics as we prepare for our adventure.

Each rider is responsible for loading their tent, bags, chair and gear into the gear truck by 9 a.m. every morning. Our gear truck and van will depart for the next overnight town by 9:30 a.m. each morning. Riders who are joining the team along the route need to have their gear loaded by 9 a.m., as well. This will give our drivers time to stock up on supplies, allow drive time to the next overnight town and accommodate riders who leave early. We do not expect the team to ride together as one group due to various skill levels and interests. Depending on the route for the day, riders may start arriving as early as noon and may continue to arrive throughout the afternoon and early evening.

Those who choose to leave early, consider tenting close to the truck and be conscientious of those who choose to leave later in the morning and may be sleeping.

We will be traveling with a 15 passenger van that we will use as a shuttle to town when needed. We expect bikers to bike in inclement weather and not use the van as a sag vehicle for this reason, so be sure to bring rain gear.

Below is a checklist to use while packing to make sure that you have everything you'll need. Local riders may consider packing two bags, one for the first part of the ride (to Indianola). On Tuesday, leave bag #1 at home, and bring bag #2 for the second half of the week.

cycling gloves
towels and wash cloth
handlebar or seat bag
tent and ground cloth
collapsible camping chair
frame-mounted bicycle pump/air canister set
lightweight sleeping bag and sheet
spare tube, tire tools, patch kit
air mattress or sleeping pad
2 large water bottles
flashlight with fresh batteries
bike lock and cable
cycling shorts
medication / Advil
walking shorts
first-aid kit
off-bike shirts
insect, gnat, and tick repellent
cycling shirts
bandannas/buff/ hat
medical insurance card
camera and batteries
sunscreen & lip balm
off-bike shoes or sandals
zip-lock bags to keep clothes dry
rain gear / jacket
foam ear plugs for sleeping
toilet paper
riding shoes
Kleenex packs
money ($25-$40 per day)
rear view mirror
credit card
duffel bag, distinctively labeled or painted
plastic bag or shower cap (to cover your bike seat for overnights)
.... and a bicycle, of course

Check out the Register's packing list too at

Tomorrow’s blog will include information and addresses of our overnight hosts. Until then, keep riding for the red and gold!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Team riding around Indianola

I want to start some Team Simpson rides near Indianola. Best times for me to ride are early Saturday/Sunday mornings (7-12noon) or weekday mornings (8-12noon), but I could try to make other arrangements.
Good routes:
A. Meet at 165th and Kennedy Street (south of Marywood Farms) and ride south to Milo/Lacona/Chariton. This is a low traffic route, with rolling hills.
B. Meet at Imes Bridge in St. Charles and ride a loop out to Winterset/E. Peru/Truro. This is a low traffic route, with some bigger hills thrown in along the way. Extra mileage can be added with a trek through St. Mary's if needed.

Both of these routes work best with more than one rider, for safety.

Let me know if you want to join me. Come prepared: plenty of water/Gatorade, sunscreen, snacks, safety equipment, spare tubes/patch kit and a pump, etc. (I have been witness to too many flat tires in the past week!) There are no bike shops and few food stops nearby!

Ready, Set, Tent!

We have arranged overnight hosts in each of the overnight RAGBRAI towns for Team Simpson. Each host was asked to provide us with:

  • A yard for our riders to pitch their tents from afternoon until the following morning.
  • Showers for the riders on the day the group arrives, and access to the bathroom(s).
  • A few electrical outlets for the group to plug in cell phones, I-pods and the likes.
  • Access to water for water bottle fill-up prior to leaving in the morning.

In addition, Team Simpson’s gear truck will be traveling with:

  • a quick set up canopy, for instant shade
  • several power strips,
  • several coolers full of beverages,
  • post-ride snacks and pre-ride granola bars,
  • first aid kit,
  • several bicycle tire pumps,
  • and an abundance of trash bags.

So BYOTT (which translates to bring your own tent and towel), along with your camping and sleeping gear. You may want to consider bringing along a collapsible chair, as we expect riders will come and go from our overnight hosts’ homes as they explore the town. Often, the group will sit outside and visit with each other into the evening. We will welcome our hosts to pull up a chair too, join the group, and continue their “Simpson Experience”.

The next Team Simpson blog post will include information on arrival and departure times of the gear truck, daily maps, and signage for our daily ride.

Until then- keep riding for the red and gold!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Meet Team Simpson!

Welcome to the Team Simpson blog! Here, we’ll count down the days until RAGBRAI XXXVII and get to know each other a bit before the ride. We’ll also use this blog to finalize our plans and answer questions.

The inaugural team will be made up of 51 cyclists and 2 drivers. We have 29 week long riders and 22 riders who will ride a portion of the week. The most popular segment of the ride appears to be Sunday through Tuesday for the much anticipated cruise into Indianola.
Forty-two teammates are traveling from Indianola to the start of the ride in Council Bluffs on Saturday, July 18 and 30 teammates are returning with the team from Burlington to Indianola on Saturday, July 25. We come from 15 different states and vary widely in our RAGBRAI experience. We have RAGBRAI veterans and riders who will be experiencing RAGBRAI for the first time.

Here is a list of team members’ first names and their home towns.

Chris – Indianola, IA
Denise – Boca Rotan, FL
Lu Ann – Urbandale, IA
Bob – Indianola, IA
Ben – Boseman, MT
Ryan – Indianola, IA
Kelley – West Des Moines, IA
Joshua – Treynor, IA
Nicole – Kansas City, MO
Jason – West Des Moines, IA
Judy – Indianola, IA
Angie – Ankeny, IA
Brian – Omaha, NB
Jennifer – Johnston, IA
Craig – Des Moines, IA
Jacki – Johnston, IA
Michael – Norwalk, IA
Kimberly – Des Moines, IA
Jason –Johnston, IA
Burton – Newburgh, IN
Kevin – Kilmarnock, VA
Patrick – Johnston, IA
Werner – Indianola, IA
Sheila – Kilmarnock, VA
John – Runnells, IA
Daniel – West Des Moines, IA
Carolyn – Kansas City, MO
Jacque – Johnston, IA
John – Edina, MN
Joseph – Westwood, KS
Jeff – Johnston, IA
Denise –Fort Cambell, KY
Shari – Westwood, KS
Martha – Indianola, IA
Dave – Pompano Beach, FL
Eric – Minneapolis, MN
Jackie – Indianola, IA
John – Sacramento, CA
Marv – Indianola, IA
John – Indianola, IA
Ron – Walnut Creek, CA
David – Saginaw, MI
Kevin – Johnston, IA
Scott –Bartlesville, OK
Paul – Indianola, IA
Ben – Altoona, IA
Brian – Iowa City, IA
Stacey – Indianola, IA
David – Evansville, IN
James – Sultan, WA
Alex – Fisher, IN
Jay – Indianola, IA
Kelli – Hot Springs, SD

We invite you to become a regular on the Team Simpson blog. Feel free to ask or answer questions and contribute as you choose. This is simply a way to have a free flowing conversation, allowing everyone to contribute as much or as little as they feel comfortable. In upcoming posts we will talk more about our overnight locations and hosts, packing lists, travel logistics, and other details.

July 18 marks the beginning of a new adventure linked together by two interests, Simpson College and a passion for cycling.

We can’t wait!