Ride brings out humor, determination in bicyclists

Donner Party offers comical warning to slow riders

-Messenger photos by Michaela Frerichs
From left, Paige Nimrick, Abbey Pocklington, Dale Nimrick, Steve Urie, Dalton Nimrick, Brooke Nimrick, Maya Hakes, Gail Nimrick, and Greg Nimrick of the “Donner Party” RAGBRAI team.

Monday brought thousands of bicyclists to Fort Dodge with tents popping up all over town. These camps were full of interesting people from all over the country, each with their own stories.

One camp housed the “Donner Party” whose camp sign promised they would “Eat the slow ones”.

Abbey Pocklington, from the Quad Cities area, one of the party’s riders, said, “My great uncle lives on Donner Lake so they were sitting out there one night talking about what their team name should be and they came up with the “Donner Party” and the slogan “We eat the slow ones.”

Pocklington’s family began participating in RAGBRAI in 2000 and enjoyed it so much, they convinced several family members to join in the years after.

“It’s like our family vacation we do every year,” she said.

Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
Allan Riggs of San Antonio, Texas, shows off his humorous "Team Faceplant" shirt. This year is Riggs' first time riding in RAGBRAI, "It's a bucket list thing if you're a biker," he said.

Family members traveled from several different states including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, and California.

The “Donner Party” consists of 25 registered riders and two support members this year. Pocklington said their family has some requirements before you’re allowed to participate in RAGBRAI,

“The rule in our family is you have to be 13 to go on RAGBRAI and you have to be able to make it up Seventh Street hill by Grandpa’s house.”

Members of the “Donner Party” range from age 13 all the way up to 77.

Fort Dodge Middle School also offered its green space to hundreds of riders, but one rider may have caught a few second glances while rolling his wheelchair around camp. 2021 marks the 15th time Jim Stockbridge, from Colorado, has ridden in RAGBRAI. Each time, Stockbridge trades his wheelchair for a handcycle.

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
From left, Drake Fox of the Out-Of-Staters Bike Club, Mike Simons, Jim Stockbridge, and Gary Bell camped at the Fort Dodge Middle School during their overnight stay in Fort Dodge.

Stockbridge said, “I broke my neck in 1972 and I still am partially ambulatory just not well. But as I age, I know it’s hard for you to believe that I’m old,” he joked, “I progressively am losing more function.”

Stockbridge said he continues to do this ride as a benchmark of his wellness,

“If I can still do this more or less then I still feel like I’m winning the battle against my disability,” he said.

Despite the added difficulty Stockbridge faces in completing RAGBRAI, he and his two riding partners, Mike Simons and Gary Bell of Pennsylvania, were full of jokes and had several other riders laughing throughout camp.

Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
Monday afternoon, Roger Netz plays music on Central Avenue for RAGBRAI riders and spectators.

Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
The view of Central Avenue as RAGBRAI started to roll into town.

Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
A group of RAGBRAI participants roller blade down Central Avenue Monday afternoon.


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