Some people spend vacations relaxing on white sand beaches or reading beside a peaceful mountain lake. And others forgo the comforts of resort life, choosing instead to go into beast mode. St. Luke’s employees Steve Drake and Starla McMullen fall into the latter camp.
Drake and McMullen spent seven days riding more than 400 miles with an elevation gain of more than 13,000 feet to participate in Register’s Annual Great Bike Across Iowa (known as RAGBRAI). The 45th annual event was held in late July.
McMullen, a supervisor on the revenue cycle team, and Drake, payor contracting director at St. Luke’s Health Partners, knew what they were in for before the adventure started. It was Drake’s fourth time participating in the event and McMullen’s second.
RAGBRAI starts in the west side of Iowa and ends on the east side, giving participants the opportunity to dip their bike tires into the Missouri River at the start and the Mississippi River at the finish. Along the way, there are nightly stops for riders to camp and rest, soak in each community’s unique culture and food.
Both Drake and McMullen were inspired by people of all ages and abilities who participated in the long ride, including a 91-year-old man and 90-year-old woman.
“It made me think, ‘If they can do this, I can do it, too,’” Drake said. “It’s all about getting out there and being more active.”
By the way, Drake is no stranger to long rides. He frequently commutes to his office by biking more than 19 miles round trip. He rides to a St. Luke’s office building that features employee showers so he can shower there and then change into professional attire and walk more than one mile to his own office. He aims to ride to work at least three times each week, and in 2016 that mileage added up to more than 2,000 cycling miles and another 200 in walking. He expects to reach similar numbers this year.
Drake and McMullen also meet for rides in the evenings or on weekends to stay in good cycling condition. Seeing approximately 23,000 ride together inspired Drake and McMullen to keep going, and now McMullen hopes their story will inspire others to embrace physical activity.“We saw people of all shapes and sizes,” McMullen said. “It doesn’t matter what level you are at. Just get out there.”
Chereen Langrill is a former communications coordinator for St. Luke’s Health System