In 2012, in an article for Iowa Momentum Magazine, in preparation for Bike Month, I wrote about life in 2002...
"On one hand, 2002 doesn’t seem that long ago. Music from that era still seems contemporary. I’m still riding the bike that I purchased before then and Lolo Jones had been lighting fire to the Blue Oval at Drake for a couple of years already. On the other hand, much has happened in the past decade, especially when considering the changes on the cycling scene in Iowa.
Over the past 30-50 years, Iowa has been warm to cycling; home to RAGBRAI, TOMRV, the Memorial Weekend Races, Iowa City Bike Races, the Mayor’s Ride for Trails and more, but it has never been more so than now.
Due, in large part, to the foundations laid by the Iowa Cycling forefathers like Bill Albright, Don Kaul and John Karras, Ed Pugsley, Carl Voss, Jim Hoss and so many more, we are enjoying a cycling boom destined to make Iowa both the Healthiest State in the Nation and one of — if not the — most bicycle-friendly state in the nation.
From its beginnings in 2002, Bike To Work Day has grown from a single day event to a one-week event and now an entire month of two-wheeled celebrations. With something for everyone, we can now celebrate the joy and utility of two wheels with art, wine, casual rides and interpretive tours to races on dirt, gravel and road, not to mention a week of organized events designed to help anyone and everyone find his or her way to work and back on their bicycle.
A scant 10 years ago, seeing someone ride his or her bike to work was a rare sighting, those doing it considered a bit freakish — living on the fringes of society. Now, I’ve seen people apologetic for riding their bike to work only once or twice per week.
Yes, things have changed in the past decade. Gas prices have tripled, but, thankfully, so have the number of people riding their bikes. Perhaps, in the next 10 years, we’ll be remembering back to now, when only 2,000 - 3,000 people took the pledge to ride to work."
Carl Voss was working on making central Iowa a better place to ride since way before 2002. In fact, in addition to helping grow Bike Month, in 1973, while riding the first RAGBRAI with John Karras, he helped raise money to build the first mile of paved trail in Des Moines - The Bill Riley Trail. He now has a trail bering his name! Carl Voss has done more to get more butts on bikes than there are tulips in Pella!
He recently sat down on the Bike Talk with Dave podcast to tell stories of how many of the things we've taken for granted the past 20... 30... 50 years came to be.
It's interesting to recount the changes from 2002 to 2012.. and to again look back in 2023, but it's even more amazing to hear the stories from as far back as 1973 and understand what makes Iowa such a great place to live and ride bikes! Thanks to Carl and everyone who continues to work to improve cycling safety and access today!
PS: I still ride that bike I rode in 2002!
Bike Talk with Dave is a weekly podcast featuring amazing people who celebrate life on two (or sometimes more!) wheels. It can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, I-Heart Radio, Pandora or wherever you get your podcasts. Every episode can be found online at www.biketalk.bike.
Thanks to Chain and Spoke Coffee for hosting the Bike Talk with Dave Studio. Chain and Spoke Coffee (515 28th Street, Des Moines) is a bike and coffee shop on the near west side of Des Moines. www.chainandspoke.com.
By David Mable