Iowa Farm Bureau celebrates Adaptive Sports 'Farm Strong' character during 2017 RAGBRAI
Adaptive Sports Iowa (ASI) Team rides to build awareness and support for increased RAGBRAI accessibility for athletes with disabilities
RAGBRAI’s 400-mile trek across Iowa is a challenge for most athletes, but this year, one team of cyclists is showing what it means to be ‘Farm Strong’ during RAGBRAI XLV. The Adaptive Sports Iowa (ASI) Cycling Team provides support for athletes with physical and vision disabilities, allowing them to compete in the annual Iowa tradition. Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) is proud to support the hard work and accomplishments of the ASI team as the group’s title sponsor.
This year the ASI team has 80 registered riders, up from 55 last year, with athletes ranging in age from their teens to 60s, and representing 17 states. Roughly half of the team are riders with disabilities, and the other half are support crew members and volunteers, including a team mechanic and nurse. In addition to the traveling support staff on the ASI team, volunteer groups including Farm Bureau members, the Lions Clubs, Optimist Clubs, Boy Scouts, and others have coordinated to help the team set up camp and unload gear for the overnight stops.
The riders’ disabilities vary significantly, but the team is unified in their commitment to perseverance and enjoying the ride across Iowa together. For example, many members of the team have lower limb paralysis so their cycles are hand powered. In addition to custom-fitted handcycles, other team members ride recumbent bicycles of all shapes and sizes, and several members ride traditional bikes with the needed modifications.
The agricultural industry is built upon a foundation of hard work, discipline, and determination, and those same principles are carried out by the members of the ASI Cycling Team. When asked about IFBF’s sponsorship and the growth of the ASI team, Executive Director Mike Boone said, “The support is awesome. When you take a well-known brand like Iowa Farm Bureau, and they stand behind us, obviously, that helps significantly.”
Experienced RAGBRAI riders know the logistics of an overnight stop is almost as challenging as the ride itself, as many overnight stops this year are on the RAGBRAI route for the first time. “When I go in to sell who we are and our mission, it’s a lot easier to get commitments to work with us when they can see a group like the Iowa Farm Bureau behind us, especially when the communities we are in are so agriculture based,” Boone says.
The goal of ASI is to engage people with physical and visual disabilities and provide opportunities to be constantly active, and for many, that means participating in RAGBRAI. If not for the work of ASI and its sponsors, many of the disabled athletes might not have the opportunity to participate.
“The vast majority of people on our team would not be doing RAGBRAI if it wasn’t for the amenities and services we are able to provide, and that’s been told to us many, many times,” says Boone. “Having volunteer support and having the services we are able to provide, literally makes it possible for a lot of these individuals to do the event.”
IFBF Executive Director Denny Presnall says Farm Bureau members are proud to support the men and women who are so dedicated to taking on challenges, overcoming obstacles, and educating folks about the benefits of teamwork, collaboration and community support. “We are so pleased to be able to support efforts that help the ASI team enjoy the beauty of rural Iowa and participate in RAGBRAI with thousands of other riders and promote the ASI team and Farm Strong spirit,” says Presnall.
“IFBF gives our team more visibility on the RAGBRAI route,” Boone says. “I would say we are now one of the most recognizable brands on RAGBRAI just as a result of it.”
To learn more about the Adaptive Sports Iowa team and view photos from previous RAGBRAI events, check out: http://adaptivesportsiowa.org/CyclingTeam .