Randy Ausman, 60, rides about 200 to 300 miles a week along the Sauk Trail or around the Carroll area.
Randy Ausman, 60, rides about 200 to 300 miles a week along the Sauk Trail or around the Carroll area.

July 20, 2019

Every day after finishing a long, tiring workday, Randy Ausman packs up and heads home.

But his day isn’t over. For him, the fun is just beginning.

Ausman slips a helmet over his head, buckles the straps together, locks his feet onto the pedals of his Trek road bike and takes off.

For about 30 years, Ausman, 60, has spent his afternoons after working at American Home Shield in Carroll gliding past the cornfields, windmills and wild animals along the Sauk Rail Trail.

Originally, he started riding to lose weight and be active after sitting for hours on end at work every day, but now it’s become more than just an everyday routine for Ausman — it’s an addiction.

“Now I am at the point that if I don’t do it, I don’t feel good — just like any exercise,” he said.

Ausman rides about 200 to 300 miles a week along the Sauk Trail or around the Carroll area. As long as the temperature is above 30 degrees and there isn’t ice on the road — he is out riding, he said.

The Sauk Rail Trail is a 33-mile trail that begins out by Swan Lake State Park and runs through Black Hawk State Park in Lake View.

Along the trail Ausman said it is not uncommon to continuously pass riders who are out for an afternoon ride. He said the trail gives people a different vantage point to capture rural Iowa and allows them to slow down and take in everything around them.

“You get a different view of the scenery in a town when you are going slower,” Ausman said. “You see stuff you would never see in a car. It’s a whole different perspective.”

During the years the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa goes through Carroll or its surrounding cities, Ausman has participated in a day of riding with a few friends, he said. Last year, he rode the Denison-to-Jefferson route. In total, he has done about eight or nine days of RAGBRAI over the years, he said.

RAGBRAI began in 1973, with two friends, John Karras, a Des Moines Register copy editor, and Don Kaul, a columnist at the Register, who were both avid bike riders and decided, why not ride across Iowa and write about it?

So they did.

For riders preparing for this year’s trek across the state, which begins on Sunday in Council Bluffs and goes to Atlantic for the first overnight stop, Ausman said riders should be ready for a long, busy day of riding. But what makes RAGBRAI different from other bike rides is its ability to pull together riders with varying experience levels from not just Iowa but all around the world, he said.

“It’s nice to be around a bunch of people that like riding,” Ausman said. “It’s kind of a spectacle in itself. People come from all over the world.”

Before they embark on this year’s RAGBRAI course or hop on the Sauk Trail, Ausman recommends people make sure they have a proper bike and pair of biking shorts, and always keep at it, he said.

“Just keep at it because when you first start you are going to get sore,” he said. “There’s a certain amount of time it takes to (adjust) to it a little bit.”

Ausman will not be taking part in this year’s RAGBRAI course, which ends in Keokuk.

Instead, he will continue to cruise along Hazel Brush — his favorite part of the Sauk Trail.

What’s special about Iowa, he said, are the distances between each small city, which makes it easy for bikers who are either on RAGBRAI or out on the trail to stop and spend time in each city.

I think just the way the state was laid out, most of the small towns are about 10 to 12 miles apart, and then with the trails using the abandoned railroad lines,” he said. “I think it brings a lot to the small towns like Breda. You go through Breda in your car, and if it’s a nice day you will see bikes over by Reds (Place). I think it’s an important asset to the community to bring in more people and businesses.”