By: Mike Kilen,   Love is found, unfolds and endures on a long bicycle ride, despite wearing uncomfortable, tight shorts for a week and smelling like barn animals. Singles meet on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. They get engaged. They marry. They return on wedding anniversaries. They even carry the memory of a late spouse on the bicycle. Every year, the life cycle of marriage is evident on RAGBRAI. THEY MEET Donna Bridges felt a tap on her shoulder. One of those bikers was asking her to dance. Donna didn’t know much about bicycling, though when Jose Medina asked her to dance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake during the 1999 RAGBRAI, for some reason she said yes. “You never dance with strangers,” her friends said. Donna danced with Jose anyway. Something weird happened, although “he was country and I was rock ‘n’ roll,” said Donna, 62. “We both danced the same. We flowed the same. That is very rare. When you meet someone who can really dance …” Well, apparently you marry them. She got his number that night and carried it back to her Clear Lake apartment. He taught her about biking. She became Donna Bridges-Medina. They even got a condo in Clear Lake for a while, though they live in Ankeny right next to the bike trail they frequently ride on. In 2009, the ride went through Clear Lake again and they had their photograph taken on the dance floor where they met. RAGBRAI goes through Clear Lake again this year. And they will dance again. In fact, Jose and Donna have never stopped. THEY’RE ENGAGED On the last night of last year’s RAGBRAI, he disappeared for three hours. Jenny Neugent, 29, of Verona, Wis., had followed him to this crazy ride. She met him the year before in the bike shop when buying her first bike. She thought Erik Miller “dreamy.” When she heard he had a nasty spill on RAGBRAI, she showed up in Iowa with a care package of Neosporin and whiskey and joined him on the ride’s final day. But a member of the group fell that day and broke a bone, so Jenny and Erik joined her on the ride to the hospital. Erik was upset for missing the ceremonial dipping of the tire in the Mississippi River. “He has overcome injuries so bicycling across Iowa was really important to him,” she said. “But he is a really loyal friend. We were only 30 miles out, but it was important to support a close friend.” That told Jenny something about this dreamy guy. They promised each other they would do the whole ride together the next summer. But he had disappeared. Where was he? RELATED: RAGBRAI rally cry for Rock Valley flood recovery He came back only mumbling about meeting up with some locals. It turns out, he was nervous and needing a stranger’s ear for what he was about to do. The next day, after dipping their tires in the Mississippi, she dropped her biking glove on the river rocks, and when she arose he was kneeling there, asking her to marry him. People clapped and took pictures. It was like a movie. “We made a pact that we’d do RAGBRAI every year from then on,” she said. They will marry next month. THEY MARRY Gretchen Imhoff found out that Brian Denney would do anything to help someone learn how to properly bicycle. When the Spring­field, Ill., couple met they discovered that both of them were going on the 2012 RAGBRAI, so he volunteered to take her on a 60-mile training ride four months before RAGBRAI. She was a novice, so after the ride, he urged her to “step up her game,” get some clip-in pedals, shoes and biking shorts. She found out he would be there for her when she fell, which she did many times when trying out her pedals. RELATED: Complete schedule of RAGBRAI entertainment “Every day I find a new reason to love him even more,” said Gretchen, 30. They got engaged and thought of eloping. They didn’t want the fuss of a traditional wedding. But a few weeks ago they had a “mutual thought.” Why not marry doing something they both love? After all, Brian’s friend who will be on the ride is an ordained minister, and there’s a perfect setting — on Clear Lake’s beach. They’ll wed around noon. Brian said they will celebrate afterward with drinks and corn dogs. THEY CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARIES Jeff and Jodi Mace had a bright idea. Why not return to Iowa, where they grew up, and pedal RAGBRAI? They had become avid road and mountain bikers in Grand Junction, Colo., and it would be a perfect way to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. They brought along their best man and maid of honor and had a blast. They both have full-time jobs, and they have two kids. “(Bicycling) is alone time for us,” said Jodi, 45. When this year came around, their 20th anniversary, it was natural to return. They thought of bringing the kids. They are old enough now. That idea clunked. Jeff and Jodi can talk and listen to music and eat whatever they want. It may sound odd for people living in the same house, but they can be together. THEY REMEMBER A MARRIAGE Ralph Vickrey of Boulder, Colo., said he is riding “in memory of my sweet wife, Nancy.” She passed away in August 2012, of breast cancer at age 63 and never got the chance to do the Iowa ride. “I loved her so very much,” said Vickrey, 74. RELATED: RAGBRAI primer: 33 useful tips for newbies on the ride She was a runner and cyclist, an innovative educator and kind and understanding, he said. “We had many wonderful bike rides together,” he said of his partner of 11 years. “Now I do a lot of riding. It makes me feel good. It fills me with wonderful memories of riding together. “She will never be forgotten and loved forever.” Her spirit will ride with him on RAGBRAI.   RAGBRAI 2014 July 19 Rock Valley Main stage entertainment: Jeff Fox & the Man on the Wall (5:30-7:45 p.m.), Pop Rocks (8:30 p.m.-midnight) RAGBRAI Expo: noon-9 p.m. July 20 Rock Valley to Okoboji: 69 miles Main stage entertainment: Flashmob, Hairball (5:30 p.m.) at Arnolds Park Amusement Park July 21 Okoboji to Emmetsburg: 41 miles Main stage entertainment: Classical Blast (5-8 p.m.), Johnny Holm Band (9 p.m.-midnight) July 22 Emmetsburg to Forest City: 79 miles Main stage entertainment: Black Diet, Less Nessman, the Oddfathers, the Hepperly Band (4 p.m.-midnight) July 23 Forest City to Mason City: 41 miles Main stage entertainment: Irie Sol, Hitchville, Comfort Kings, Ruthless Ruths, the Hats, the Mercury 3 (beginning at noon), Bret Michaels and Warrant (starting at 8 p.m.) July 24 Mason City to Waverly: 63 miles Main stage entertainment: Crossed (2-4 p.m.), Orquestra Alto Maiz (5-7 p.m.), Arch Allies (8-11:45 p.m.) July 25 Waverly to Independence: 68 miles Main stage entertainment: Stampede (5:30-8:30 p.m.), Boogie Wonderland (9 p.m.-midnight) July 26 Independence to Guttenberg: 68 miles