Cathy Rought traveled all the way from Brooklyn to celebrate her 40th birthday with RAGBRAI.
Rought has been biking for about 15 years, but this is her first RAGBRAI, and she’s using her first trip to celebrate turning 40 and to raise money for two cancer research organizations.

“I call it, ‘paying it forward for turning 40,’” Rought said Sunday afternoon in Kingsley.

Rought heard about RAGBRAI through a friend who was originally from Cedar Falls and the two planned on taking on the trip together this year. 

Her friend was injured while training for RAGBRAI and couldn’t ride, but Rought said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity and had already committed to riding to raise money.

Rought raised $3,400 to split evenly between the American Cancer Society and the Morgan Center, an organization that allows pre-school age children with weakened immune systems to play safely and learn with other children.

Two women had helped Rought train for RAGBRAI as part of the exercise organization SoulCycle, so she said she asked them to pick the organizations for which she pedaled. One of the women she trained with was a cancer survivor.

Rought is riding the whole week and said she wishes her friend could ride with her, but the training accident broke her friend’s collar bone and her pelvis. But Rought isn’t alone. She meets up with other friends at some of the stops.

Her first reaction to RAGBRAI was, “Is it all this hilly?” as the first stretch of Sioux City to Washta was a bit of an up and down battle.

“It’s fun though, really,” she said of her first ride across Iowa. “People are so nice.”

She said she will most definitely be doing RAGBRAI in the future, but as for how she’s going to spend the night of her first time:

“Napping in the grass for sure.”