I hope you don’t mind, but I just have to brag a bit about my Dad. A “health nut” before it was fashionable, my Dad, Carter LeBeau, not only taught me the importance of healthy living, he has inspired countless others.
Dad was honored recently at a celebration in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for 40 years of participation in the bicycling event known as RAGBRAI. But even more than his participation in the ride, at 86, my Dad has been an inspiration and encouragement to thousands of cyclists…in Iowa and beyond.
RAGBRAI is an acronym for the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. It’s the granddaddy of all cross-state bike rides, drawing cycling enthusiasts from around the world – from beginning bikers to seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong.
Palomar Health physician and Iowa native, Dr. Joan Meyer makes the trek “home” every year to do RAGBRAI. “I wouldn’t miss it, “says Meyer of the fun, folksy and challenging cycling event across the Hawkeye state. (see photo)
RAGBRAI is an annual, seven-day, bike-riding party that begins in a selected community along Iowa’s western border and ends in a town along the state’s eastern border. Ten thousand riders cycle some 470 miles while each year, seven different communities “host” the throng…providing everything from welcoming cheers and free lemonade to campsites and host homes.
The oldest, largest and longest touring bicycle ride in the world, RAGBRAI celebrated 40 years of riding in July and my Dad has been on every one.
It all began when two Des Moines Register newspaper feature reporters decided to go on a bicycle ride across Iowa, writing about their experiences. Of 300 riders starting the ride, 114 (including my Dad!) completed the trek.
But while he’s pedaled all the miles over the years, his most important roles have been as encourager, cheerleader and mentor to cyclists just starting out. Before it was fashionable, Dad knew the importance of physical fitness. But he also believed fitness should be fun.
After retiring, Dad began a new career of organizing other cycling events including the popular TOGIR, TIGER, BEAR and LION rides. He’s bicycled cross-country twice, celebrated his 66th birthday by cycling the entire Route 66 and, with a buddy, biked from Sydney to Melbourne…Australia!!
He’s advocated for improved bicycle lanes, helped lead the Quad Cities Bicycle Club in its exploding growth and speaks to civic groups about the benefits of biking. My nephews call him, “Grandpa Bike!”
As for me, I’m so proud of my Dad and celebrate his 40-year milestone with RAGBRAI and his many years of promoting health and fitness through an event and sport he so loves! Way to go, Dad!
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.