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or the first time in RAGBRAI’s 45-year history, one of the true legends of the event will be missing. Frank Iowa, the only person from Iowa City to ride in every RAGBRAI, passed away on April 30.

He was born Gregson Schmidt, but his love for his state prompted him to adopt the name by which he became known around his hometown of Iowa City. Over the last 45 RAGBRAIs, “Frank Iowa” became synonymous with the cross-state bike ride.

I had the pleasure of first meeting Frank on RAGBRAI in 1985. I was 26 years old and a decent road cyclist who loved to ride fast. One day, I got a later start than normal and spent most of my day riding at the back of the pack. It was there I found some of the more colorful riders, including Frank. His trademark Duck Dynasty-style facial hair was dark in those days and made it easy to spot him in the crowds of more than 10,000 cyclists.


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