Matt Phippen of Vinton, Iowa, was named Director of RAGBRAI (The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) in January of 2022. In the year-and-four-months since, he’s prepped for and managed his first pilgrimage across the state and is now prepping for what could be the biggest week-long ride the world has ever seen in RAGBRAI 50.
“I want to get on those roads and find those windy roads that are less travelled. You just see the history as you come winding through these towns.”- Matt Phippen
He recently sat down with Bike Talk with Dave host Dave Mable at RAGBRAI headquarters in Des Moines to talk about his introduction to RAGBRAI as a 10-year old, and the roads he took that landed him in the drivers seat of this unique summer bike ride.
“RAGBRAI is a unicorn. It’s a ride that other states try to replicate, but it’s just not the same.”
Phippen discusses what it takes to map out a route across the state and how towns are selected. Not all towns are excited to host the thousands of cyclists, due to the risk of expenses, the challenges of feeding or housing the vast number of riders and crews, and how RAGBRAI the organization can help elevate those risks and make it a positive experience for both the towns and riders.
RAGBRAI has recently survived the turmoil of the sudden exit of a director and staff, a competing ride and a global pandemic, but, as Phippen says, RAGBRAI is fully back and as strong and healthy as ever. The state of Iowa has supported this ride for the past 50+ years, and, as long as cyclists, crews, town volunteers and staff, the Iowa DOT and all the other moving parts continue to work together, this ride can continue for another 50 years.
Bike Talk with Dave is a weekly podcast hosted by lifetime cyclist Dave Mable. It is a bicycle variety show, covering everything from racing to touring, from equipment to events. Bike Talk with Dave is supported by Chain and Spoke Coffee
of Des Moines. Chain and Spoke is a bicycle-themed coffee shop, or a coffee-themed bike shop on 28th Street between Ingersoll and Grand. You can stop in for a Flat White, Cold-brewed on Nitro or a chain, helmet or pair of sunglasses. The bicycles range from the full line of Orbea to the Bentonville-based Allied to the hand-crafted Wilde Cycles out of Minneapolis. Check them out at www.chainandspoke.com
Follow Bike Talk with Dave on Instagram and Facebook or subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. Future shows include Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Dave Wiens and Tour de France Femme rider Emily Newsom. Past episodes include USA Cycling CEO Branden Quirk, Iowa based road pro Matt Zimmer, Gravel pro Marisa Boaz, Mountain bike pro Savilia Blunk, Gravel pro and Ankeny native Hannah Shell as well as experiential shows from RAGBRAI, CIRREM and Single Speed USA.
Thank you to BIKEIOWA.com for hosting Bike Talk with Dave.