• Sat July 22 2006
  • Posted Jul 22, 2006
By Brian Morelli Iowa City Press-Citizen Camouflaged in spandex shorts, bike jerseys, helmets and sun glasses, RAGBRAI regulars probably wouldn't even realize if they had peddled alongside a pro football player, a movie star or some other celebrity. "You can go stealth on a bike and not be recognized," RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz said. "We get several celebrities that call and say 'Hey, I just want to ride.'" The rich and famous have popped up on RAGBRAI over the years. This year's splash is seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. As one of the most prominent and world-renowned athletes, he may be the highest profile figure to ever join the ride. "When someone like Lance Armstrong calls and says he wants to put on a national event (at RAGBRAI), it says a lot about this ride," Juskiewicz said. In past years, three-time Tour de France champ Greg LeMond, former pro football player and actor Ben Davidson, columnist Dave Barry, 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean and former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt have checked out RAGBRAI. And those are just the identified celebrities. The allure of RAGBRAI makes waves nationwide and like anyone else, celebrities are curious too. "Celebrities are just like anyone else. It's a great week on a bike," Juskiewicz said. "In their life, they may be shooting a movie. You basically escape from reality on RAGBRAI. You are not on your cell phone all the time. You are not watching TV." Iowans don't put a lot of pressure on celebrities, Juskiewicz said, which makes it more inviting. "That is one the great things about RAGBRAI, you are not going to be mobbed," he said. "Iowans are really good, if they sense you want to be by yourself, they are going to let you." Actor Tom Arnold has visited RAGBRAI, Juskiewicz said, and there always are rumors for Iowa's other homegrown stars. Riders have claimed to see actor Ashton Kutcher, formerly of Homestead, and they very well may have been, he said. Juskiewicz expects to hear more rumors this year, particularly about sightings of Iowa natives. "I am sure the Superman rumors are going to be flying," Juskiewicz said of Superman Returns star and native of Des Moines and Norwalk Brandon Routh. "If (Routh or Kutcher) came, that would be great. They would have a great time. It wouldn't shock me if they came."

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