Friday, July 27, 2012


Ready to ride Grandpa's bike on my birthday
"On the fifth day of RAGBRAI, my true love gave to me, a 28th birthday!"  Once again this year I was able to celebrate my birthday on RAGBRAI.  This year was particularly special because I got to ride my Grandpa's bicycle for the day.  The entire time I rode, I thought about him and all the birthdays I had been able to celebrate with him on past RAGBRAIs.  There have been some interesting ones to say the least; all of them involving some sort of cake or ice cream gathering/coordinating.  Grandpa always got such a laugh out of our many birthday adventures together as a family.  As I rode and watched the corn blowing in the wind and the hills rolling in the distance, I knew Grandpa was right there with me watching the clouds in the sky and pushing me along.  It wasn't long before a lady rode up next to me calling me by name.  She said that she had read the article I wrote about my Grandpa on the RAGBRAI site and really admired what my family was doing in riding my Grandpa's bike.  I told her how much I appreciated that she took the time to read it and that it was a tough to be doing this ride 'without' him.  She then reached out her hand to me and gave mine a little squeeze as if to tell me that it was ok and that I'm never really without him.  That meant a lot to me to have this stranger reach out like that.  The support we have had from people has been amazing and this was an example of that same grace.

Jon, Krissy, and T.J
In Vinton, we stopped to get some food and my dad (Jon) needed to have the gearing of his bike checked out, so we stopped at one of the repair shops there.  While standing in line, I was approached by a man in a RAGBRAI button down shirt.  "Excuse me, are you Krissy?" he asked.  As I replied that I was, he extended his hand and said "I'm T.J."  Immediately my face lite up.  If you don't know who T.J. is, you should.  He's the guy that makes RAGBRAI happen.  He's what makes it flow so smoothly and he works his hind quarters off to make sure that it continues to get better each year.  T.J. is also responsible for publishing that email I sent him about the passing of my Grandpa.  I've had the pleasure of exchanging several emails with him and he's turned into someone that I would surely consider to be a friend.  He had been walking by and just happened to see the sign we have on Grandpa's bike, so he thought for sure it had to be ours.  We talked for a bit and I was about as happy as a clam.  To have met John Karras two days prior and now T.J., this was an awesome birthday gift.  I couldn't help to think that somehow my Grandpa had made this happen from above.  How else can you explain "just happening" to bump into these two men out of over 20,000+ cyclists over the course of at least 60 miles a day.....?  This was a needle-in-a-haystack moment that I know was made possible because Grandpa helped it to happen.

That evening we all had a special cake that my Aunt Belinda and Uncle Steve had made at a bakery in Vinton.  It was six cupcakes all iced together with a bicycle on it.  Our hosts, Ann and Don, were so sweet to us as we each had the option of sleeping in a bed, and Ann had even made veggie and fruit pizzas for us to snack on that were fantastic.  When people open their homes up to us to stay in and make us feel like part of their family, it's such a great feeling.  To say that we were well taken care of is an understatement, as we even had our own coffee maker and even a hammock to relax in outside.  All in all, it was another special birthday on RAGBRAI!

Team Uffda in Cedar Rapids


  1. It was our pleasure to host Team Uffda and to be included in celebrating your birthday, Krissy! I'm so glad you got to meet those two great men of RAGBRAI... what a neat gift! I wish I had known your grandpa. He sounds like my kind of guy :)

  2. He was a wonderful man. I heard from several people on the ride tell me that they remembered seeing my Grandpa on RAGBRAI and talking with him. One guy even remembered the conversation they had and shared it with me. Those little things made me feel like he wasn't far away at all.