I often say that RAGBRAI is more than just a bike ride.  The card I received in the mail the other day from Joel in Palmdale, California personified that.  I asked Joel if we could share his inspiration story with others.  Thank you Joel and congratulations of finishing your first RAGBRAI!

T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI Director

Joel BeforeAfter

by Joel Plantinga

RAGBRAI XLIII was the culmination of a process that brought me from the edge of personal disaster to the brink of a new life.  Just nineteen months ago I weighed 420 pounds, did no physical activity, and was just eating my way through life.  As I write this, I’m at 235 pounds with the satisfaction of knowing I’ve pedaled my way across the state I grew up in!

The moment I decided to change my life was pretty random.  I was listening to a podcast on my way back from Las Vegas to my home of Palmdale, CA and heard the speaker talk about health and how it’s important but never urgent until you’re on the ER table being resuscitated.  Something clicked in my mind, and I made the decision right then that I would change my life by eating less and moving more: No fad diets, no pills, and no surgery.

In addition to counting my calories, I started riding a stationary bike and then a real bike, given to me by our church’s Bike Shop, which fixes up bikes and gives them out to the community.  Growing up in Iowa and riding my bike, I knew what my goal would be: to ride RAGBRAI from coast to coast!  After awhile, my dad sent me his Cannondale Hybrid and I started training in earnest.

RAGBRAI was incredible.  The thrill of accomplishment, meeting tons of amazing people, seeing my home state like I never have before, riding with an old friend from high school for one day, and experiencing the satisfaction of dipping my tire in the Mississippi River with my family cheering me on was something I will NEVER forget!

Maybe someone is sitting where I was and needs to know that they can do it.  I’m all about inspiring people to change.  Get moving now and ride RAGBRAI.  You will NOT regret it!

Thank you RAGBRAI!

Joel RAGBRAI Finish

via RAGBRAI http://ift.tt/1JdIJHL