ONAWA,Ia -- Thousands of cyclists and their teams gathered in Onawa today... the first host city for RAGBRAI 2018.
It's been 14 years since the city of Onawa, Iowa has hosted RAGBRAI.
Over 20,000 bicyclists assembling for the 500-mile journey across Iowa.
Some riding with a purpose; One18 member group most from Arizona filled a trailer with photos, all telling a story of lives they have impacted with their ride
Especially for Aaron Wilson’s second cousin, Carter, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy ;and for one day a year gets to join the team for the ride before their last stop.
“He is the heart organization, we are just the muscle power so we are going to be pulling him the last 68,” said Aaron Wilson.
Their tradition has been happening for 8 years and not only do they give Carter an opportunity but Carter has been named an honorary air force member which carries its own special honor.
"Observing the moment, allowing the normalcy to do whatever he wants to do and see what we take for granted,” said Wilson.
But there's more, the team is made up of several retired air force members that inspired them to fundraise and help three disabled veterans cross the United States in a hand cycles.
"We look for ways, some small some large how we can give back,” said Tom Heath.
“It's a big team, its collective, it’s not an individual sport,” said Wilson.
For the team, meeting their host families and embracing the communities of Iowa is what brings them back each year.
"For us the comradery and the folks you meet, you just make friends everywhere you go,” said James Workizeo.
"Each year the unique thing is we don’t know what it’s going to be next year".
While this team keeps making a difference, the RAGBRAI community even sending an Iowa Wave to the children at the Children's Hospital in Des Moines continuing a tradition started by the Hawkeyes.
"I think it has turned into a passion is changing it from just simply riding a bike to being a part this really wonderful community for a week,” said Heath.
This RAGBRAI showing that with a helmet and a bike even a cyclist can be heroes too.
“It's enjoying life, it's a journey not a destination,” said Wilson.
RAGBRAI Riders begin the first leg of the ride Sunday morning leaving Onawa and riding 43 and a half miles to Denison. Riders also have the option of taking a gravel loop which would make their day one trek over 60 miles in length.