CEDAR RAPIDS — Clarence Boesenberg became a bit of a celebrity last week while completing his fourth RAGBRAI.
But what do you expect when a sign on the back of your 1979 Schwinn Le Tour bicycle reads “Doing fine at 10 x 9” ?
Boesenberg, 90, of Cedar Rapids, was among the oldest participants in the 44th Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, which took participants on a 420-mile journey over seven days from Glenwood to Muscatine.
“I got a lot of comments,” said Boesenberg. “They say things like, ‘I hope I can do that when I’m 90,’ or ‘You’re my hero.’
Some even asked to have their picture taken with Boesenberg.
“Most of them can’t believe that I’m doing that at 90,” he said.
In completing all seven days of RAGBRAI, Boesenberg also got closer to a bigger goal he’s set for himself after turning 90 in February — riding 9,000 miles by the end of 2016.
He has now tallied 7,200 miles.
Another goal he set was to complete nine rides of at least 100 miles this year. On July 27, he chose to take the optional 100-mile route from Leon to Centerville rather than the standard 65.1-mile course. By completing that leg, he accomplished his goal.
Boesenberg said he trained all year in anticipation of RAGBRAI, an event he has completed each year since 2012. This year’s ride became a family affair when Clarence’s son Mike Boesenberg, 66, of Johnston, joined him all seven days. They rode and camped with a Cedar Rapids-based group of cyclists who dubbed themselves the Wolf Pack.
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Clarence Boesenberg’s grandson Joel Doty, 28, of Denver, also joined the pair for the first two days. His daughter Mary Doty, 62, and her husband Steve Doty, 64, both of Cedar Rapids, completed the final day’s ride from Washington to Muscatine Saturday.
“Anytime you can do things with your family, it’s something special I think,” Clarence Boesenberg said.
Mary Doty, a cashier at Truman Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, said her father gained a lot of attention from others along the route. She said it helped convince her to ride on Saturday.
“I questioned myself the whole week and on Wednesday, I thought, ‘If my dad at 90 years old can do it, then I can do one day,’ ” she said.
Clarence Boesenberg said he was overwhelmed with the attention. More than anything, though, he said he just enjoyed riding each day with upward of 20,000 other participants, according to RAGBRAI officials. Along the way, Boesenberg said he met people from around the world, including New Zealand, Great Britain and Mexico.
“It’s so interesting to talk to people and hear their story,” he said.
Boesenberg said he plans to participate in the event again next year.