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Program Sunday afternoon April 15 at museum in Jefferson

Bicycling history of Greene County – and of RAGBRAI, too!
The series of sports-related programs that are preliminaries to the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling “Hometown Teams” exhibit, which the Greene County Historical Museum in Jefferson will house late in the summer, continues on Sunday afternoon, April 15, with a discussion of the history of bicycling in the county — and also the history of RAGBRAI.
Presenting in this free program at 2 p.m. at the museum will be John & Ces Brunow, of Jefferson, co-owners of All Ability Cycles, and special guest T.J. Juskiewicz, the director of RAGBRAI. Co-sponsors of the program and of the Smithsonian exhibit’s stay here are the Jefferson Matters Main Street program and the Greene County Historical Society.
If it seems like there’s a good deal of bicycling happening in Greene County now, there is.
And that will especially so this summer when RAGBRAI (that’s the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) pedals through the county on July 23-24. It will visit Scranton on July 23, overnight in Jefferson and then go on to Grand Junction and Dana the next day enroute to an overnight in Ames. This April 15 program will serve as a good primer for Greene Countians getting ready for RAGBRAI’s visit.
But cycling had a big start here as early as the 1890s, when there was a large men’s cycling club based in Jefferson and a “women’s auxiliary” cycling group, too. There were races, exhibitions and group rides to neighboring towns. Through the decades, there have been “Bicycle Days” promotions and parades in our towns.
For 41 years, Rippey has been a host town and turn-around point on “BRR” — that’s the “Bike Ride to Rippey” from Perry and back. And since 1997, Greene County has the northern 12 miles of one of the best-known and busiest recreational trails in the nation, the Raccoon River Valley Trail, with trailheads in Cooper, at Winkleman Switch and in Jefferson.
And, as we said, now here comes RAGBRAI in its 46th year — the oldest, longest and largest bicycle touring event in the world. All of the above is part of bicycling now being a full-grown industry in Iowa, with expenditures of about $350 million annually, according to latest economic data from a University of Northern Iowa study.
At the program this Sunday, the Brunows and Juskiewicz will be speaking, there will be displays of cycling memorabilia, there will be time for questions and free refreshments.

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