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08/06/2018 | Ironwood Insight
Reflections on My Bike Ride Across Iowa

I just returned from yet another trip to Iowa to ride RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, billed as the largest, oldest and longest bike ride in the world. I’ve ridden it many times before and written about it in this forum.

RAGBRAI riders in the distance.

While it’s rigorous (Iowa’s not flat, its hills roll on and on and the climbs out of river valleys are frequent and challenging) and a test of one’s strength and endurance, I find it mentally and emotionally restorative and an opportunity for quiet, focused reflection. RAGBRAI affords me the opportunity to truly unplug, meet new people, listen to and share new ideas, question old beliefs and experience the delightful openness of middle America.

The people and the culture mimic the landscape. Their friendly, open nature puts me at ease. The clean, flowing vistas along the ride are soothing. Knowing that we’ll meet new hosts for our overnight stays – them trusting, too, that we are good people – is exciting and humbling. I find that reciprocity of spirit uplifting.

Marc Reich, Ironwood Capital Chairman and CEO, and friends at RAGBRAI

While Iowa and RAGBRAI are in many ways idyllic and a source of reflection, you still have to focus on your ride, the route, your teammates, other riders, hydration, etc., but plenty of bandwidth remains available.

This year I often found myself devoting that bandwidth to the topic of trust, how vitally important and pervasive it is in every aspect of life. RAGBRAI itself is predicated on trust – that the other 15,000+ riders do the right thing all the time, that the big holes and cracks in the roads got repaired, that the cars and trucks stay where they belong. It is this same trust that is the mortar that holds our personal relationships together as well.

Marc Reich and his Posse

The trust that I thought of most, however, is the trust that has enabled Ironwood Capital to grow and morph over the past 30+ years. The trust between and among my four long-time partners, our valued staff and colleagues and the many institutional investors that have made it possible for us to grow and develop still more relationships. These thoughts renewed my appreciation for all my personal and Ironwood relationships and underscored how fragile they can be and the need to strengthen and nurture them continuously.

A little deep for a long bike ride. Let’s move back to the lighter side of RAGBRAI.

Needless to say, I truly value my time on RAGBRAI at multiple levels and strongly suggest you give it some consideration. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.