A Ride to Remember: Atlas Employees’ 500-Mile Journey Across Iowa

Atlas employees

Bricker and Captain Runnette after dipping their wheels into the Mississippi River to celebrate completing their 500+ mile journey! It’s tradition for cyclists to dip their rear wheel in the Missouri River before beginning their ride and dip their front wheel in the Mississippi River at the end.

Atlas’ Bricker Martin, Director of Defense and Government Programs, and 767 Captains Timothy Runnette and Rob Smith know that achieving a goal can sometimes mean going the extra mile – both on and off the job. They recently ventured outside the world of air cargo and onto the ground, joining more than 30,000 cyclists to pedal across Iowa for RAGBRAI 2023.

RAGBRAI, short for Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is the oldest, largest and longest bike-touring event in the world. With seven overnight stops, the tour tracks over 500 miles from the western to eastern border of Iowa, beginning on July 23 in Sioux City and ending on July 29 in Davenport. Other towns the bikers trekked through included Storm Lake, Carroll, Ames, Des Moines, Tama-Toledo, and Coralville.

This year marked the event’s 50th anniversary and paid homage to the original routing in 1973. The celebration drew more cyclists than ever before, adorned in colorful jerseys as they journeyed their way through the blistering July heat.

For Bricker, this was his third time participating in this epic eight-day event, described as a “rolling festival of bicycles, music, food, camaraderie and community,” but for Captains Runnette and Smith, a tour of this kind was all new territory.

bike tour

Tens of thousands of cyclists came out to make the trek.

“It’s a very unique cycling event and something that’s been on my list to do for a long time,” said Captain Runnette. “It’s a rolling circus across the entire state of Iowa. Every town you go to is basically like walking into a small state fair.”

“The highlight for me was being able to ride with people I knew – some I flew with in the Air Force and some I work with at Atlas,” said Bricker.

However, all of the fun certainly did not come without any physical challenges.

“There were a lot of long days with 100-mile plus rides,” said Bricker “It’s probably the most challenging bicycling that I’ve done.”

Captain Smith added, “It’s not just the distance that makes the days long – this was one of the hottest RAGBRAIs in history and the sixth hardest in terms of hill-climbing, over 16,500 feet!”

Atlas employee rides bike

Captain Rob Smith hits the road for RAGBRAI 2023.

In the end, Bricker and Captain Smith completed a total of 536 miles, and Captain Tim Runnette rode 510 miles. However, for each of them, the experience equated to much more than just distance.

“It’s the moments when you really have to dig deep that make you realize how much you’re capable of,” Captain Smith said.

Bricker agreed, “It wasn’t easy, but I think this experienced showed each of us that despite how hard it gets, the ability to persevere can help you overcome any challenge.”