Eat, ride, repeat: RAGBRAI bike ride | Midwest Living

Eat, ride, repeat: RAGBRAI bike ride

On RAGBRAI—America’s largest bike ride—up to 30,000 cyclists pedal 500 miles across Iowa’s heartland every July. And with food stands waiting at the end of every corn row, riders may actually finish heavier than they started.


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    RAGBRAI riders.
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    Pie is king on TAGBRAI, and rhubarb reigns supreme. For recipe, see end of story.
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    Small-town stops.
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    Matt Bernhard keeps the Mr. Pork Chop legend cooking. For pork chop recipe, see end of story.
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    Biking through cornfields.
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    Strawberry-Mango Smoothies. For recipe, see end of story.
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    Bikers and locals exchange waves.
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    Penne with Arrabiata Sauce. For recipe, see end of story.
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    Grassy spots become nap areas.
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    In Oxford, Thelma Kolar leads church ladies baking pies to raise money for the fire department.
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    Local parks become tent cities as RAGBRAI passes through.
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    Breakfast Burritos. For recipe, see end of story.
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    Chris Cakes fuels the masses with airborne pancakes.
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    Peach Ice Cream. For recipe, see end of story.
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    The author celebrates at the Mississippi.

What’s an Armadillo Egg?

It’s sometimes hard to tell local delicacies from RAGBRAI-specific food stunts. Brooklyn offers “armadillo eggs,” which no one will describe to me in advance. When I pedal into town, I learn it’s a sausage-wrapped chicken egg cooked in a smoker. (Known as a Scotch egg elsewhere.) The Oxford Fire Department sells ham-ball sundaes: cheesy hash browns covered in baked beans and topped with a ham ball and cherry tomato. I learned a few days earlier that a ham ball is a sweeter, more spherical version of meat loaf, only made with ham. Whether by itself or atop a sundae, it’s a debatable choice with 20 miles of riding to go.

But no matter how many clever inventions pop up, the very soul of RAGBRAI will forever be shaped like a slice of pie. Rhubarb, preferably. Pie is summer. It’s hometown. It’s every rider’s daily obsession. And best of all, it puts you in touch with nice church ladies, adorable kids and friendly farm wives who all look impossibly like someone Hollywood would cast in a film about Iowa. Plus, the pie bakers genuinely feel they’re providing a service to Iowa’s mob of guests. “I think it really helps them on the ride,” says Kelly Alfers, who sells Kelly’s Berry Best Pies in a tent next to Mr. Pork Chop’s pig bus. “You have fruit and carbs and, of course, real butter.”

RAGBRAI recipes

Rhubarb Pie 

Strawberry and Mango Smoothies

Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Chops on a Stick

Penne with Arrabiata Sauce

Peach Ice Cream

Breakfast Burritos

French Toast Sticks with Maple-Apple-Nut Topping




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