Robert Bailey of Baton Rouge, Louisiana finished RAGBRAI XL (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa 40) in Clinton, Iowa on July 28th. It was his third time riding the annual ride through the cornfields of Iowa. The previous two years he was able to ride 350 miles plus (563 km), but could not finish. This year he was determined to finish the 471 mile (758 km) tour.
Robert lost both lower legs in a tractor/bush hog accident in 2005. A cyclist most of his life, he needed to find a way to return to cycling without injuring his legs. Riding an upright bike left him with repeated bloody blisters. He discovered recumbent trikes on the internet. A U.S. Navy veteran, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs agreed to purchase a trike as rehabilitation equipment. After long research he chose an ICE Adventure. “The Adventure is steel, folding trike and beautifully made.”
He came back from 2011 RAGBRAI determined to train harder. The V.A. updated several items to help the bilateral amputee ride the ICE, the most important being a Q-Ring elliptical chain wheel set to help power through the “dead zone” of his stroke. Over the two year period he lost 80lbs and was training 3 hours a day, 5 times a week with specially made cycling legs created by his “leg man” Jay Tew of Hanger Clinic, Baton Rouge.
Robert returned to Iowa for the start of RAGBRAI in Sioux Center, July 22nd. His sponsors were Operation Rebound of the Challenged Athletes Foundation and Hanger Clinic. He rode with 15,000 riders each day as they headed east. The temperature the first four days topped 100 degrees F. The temperature dropped 20 degrees Wednesday Night making for wonderful riding weather the last three days.
“One, Iowa is not flat. It rolls all the way across the State. Two; Iowa is corn, soybeans, corn, pigs, corn, windmills and ….corn. It is small town America. The pork chops on a stick are heavenly. But more than anything else you appreciate the people. The people are Iowa nice.”
Finishing the ride in Clinton was the end of one road and the start of another. There will be other adventures for the 53 year old amputee. He considers himself, “Just a guy riding a cycle.” But he also was glad to show and talk to others about riding as an amputee. Many riders approached him in disbelief. “Riding a cycle, especially a trike, is a perfect exercise for an amputee. A trike puts very little pressure on your legs. It is wonderful!”