Rider Uses RAGBRAI to Feel Normal - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Rider Uses RAGBRAI to Feel Normal

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By Alex Schuman

aschuman@myabc5.com

@alexschuman

Robert Bailey heard about RAGBRAI all the way down in Louisiana.

"I had always heard when I was like in my 20s about these crazy people in Iowa who ride across the state and drink beer, and have a good time," he said.

Back in 2005, he bought a brand new 1,000 dollar bike.  Then, one week later, the bike was useless.

Robert lost both his legs in an accident with a machine that cuts brush in pastures.  He later replaced his legs with two prosthetics. 

"Bit by bit I've learned about the only thing I can't do is get up on a my tipy-toes to get something off the top shelf at Wal-Mart," Robert said.

His support group, the Challenged Athlete Foundation, pushed him to start riding in RAGBRAI.

"I heard it was still going, and there were more people," he said. 

He rode his first three times on a large tricycle as he recovered.  This year, Robert decided to challenge himself and bike the 472 miles on two wheels. 

"It does have a lot of meaning for me to finally be able to do it," Robert said.

It's tough to pick Robert out of the crowd of riders now.  Sitting on the bike he bought back in 2005, he looks like everyone else, which for him, is the whole point.

"In many ways, riding this... means I'm normal again," he said.  "And I think that's part of it. It's sort of a graduation ceremony."

Robert plans to run a marathon next.  He also wants to learn to swim with his prosthetic legs so he can eventually do a triathlon.

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