Historical Society to hear of Rippey’s role in one of Iowa’s biggest bicycle rides

 “BRR” topic of meeting

~by Chuck Offenburger, Greene County Historical Society

The Greene County Historical Society will learn about one of Iowa’s biggest – and most unusual – bicycle rides at the group’s Sept. 5 meeting at the United Methodist Church in Rippey. Bob Wilson, executive director of the Perry Chamber of Commerce, will provide a history of “BRR,” the annual “Bicycle Ride to Rippey.”

Since 1977, this ride held on the first Saturday of February – regardless of weather – has been regarded as the “official” opening of another bicycling season in Iowa. It was started that year by Perry’s Dennis Hurley and Jim Walstrom, with the Perry parks & recreation department as the first sponsor. Larry Vodenik owned the bar in Rippey then, and the idea was hatched for Rippey to become the turnaround spot. 

The ride drew only a few riders that first year, but it soon mushroomed into the hundreds, then thousands. The largest crowd was 2009 which had about 3,500 riders. The ride has been held during blizzards and once when the temperature was 29 degrees below zero. A couple of years, the temperature had soared to the 50-degree range.

The Perry Chamber took over sponsorship of the event years ago, and has kept the community of Rippey as its partner. As Chamber executive Wilson says, “Without Rippey there would be no BRR!”

The historical gathering begins at 12 noon at the church with an $8 lunch featuring creamy Italian chicken. Reservations for lunch should be called to the Historical Society’s community contacts by Wednesday, Sept. 2. Dawn Rudolph has taken over as the contact for the Scranton area and can be reached at 712-652-3672.

Following the meal, the society’s executive director Roger Aegerter will once again provide a brain-teasing trivia quiz, this time with a bicycle theme.

The program, which is free and open to the public, begins at 1 pm in the sanctuary of the church. Midge Vanatta will provide musical accompaniment for Dick Bardole as he leads the crowd in a couple of bicycle songs.

A GCHS business meeting will be conducted following Wilson’s presentation. Agenda items include reminders of the upcoming “Poetry Out Loud” program on Sept. 14, and a cemetery walk scheduled in Jefferson for Oct. 5. A meal will be served in conjunction with the cemetery walk as a fundraiser for the Historical Society. Volunteers for food donations, decorating, setting of tables, and other preparations will be requested.

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