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Father, daughter team bike ride across Iowa

RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state of Iowa by two Des Moines Register columnists who invited a few friends along. About 120 people made it across the state that year. Ever since those numbers have been climbing, over 10,000 in recent years.

RAGBRAI is coordinated by the Des Moines Register and is held the last full week of July. This year the seven-day ride was about 427 miles. It begins along Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and ends along the eastern border on the Mississippi River. Two local riders made the trek for the second time together this year — Mitch Jensen and his daughter Rachel, of Lennox.

This is the second time the pair has completed the ride, and the third time for Mitch. He first rode RAGBRAI in 1978, at the time he was in high school and living in Iowa. So in 2018, 40 years after his first ride, his daughter talked him into doing it again. Rachel graduated from Lennox High School in 2018.

“I heard stories about him doing it, and I had to convince him to do it again,” Rachel said.

They enjoyed their 2018 ride so much they went back for a second time, and both say they hope to keep the tradition going. She and her dad start training for the week long ride well in advance.

“We rode five days a week twenty or more miles a night,” she said.

Mitch added that, “you start light and build up as time goes on.”

During the RAGBRAI the duo would ride about sixty miles a day. They each ride at their own pace in the throng of other riders meeting up at the stops along the route.

“We’re not pushing to beat time,” Mitch said.

“Some people are really hard core,” added Rachel, “and train more than we do.”

The stops at the different communities that host the riders are the favorite for both of them.

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