RAGBRAI Appoints Matt Phippen As New Director; Deiter Drake promoted

The Register’s Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa has a new manager.

Matt Phippen, an active member of the Iowa cycling community and longtime manager of Scheels, assumes his new role today.

Phippen has worked at Scheels stores in Coralville and Cedar Falls since 1999 and ran the bike section of the Iowa City store for several years. He replaces Dieter Drake, Director of Hiking since December 2019, who has been promoted to Director of Event Operations for the Cycling Division at Ventures Endurance Events.

Ventures is a division of Gannett Co., which also owns RAGBRAI and the Des Moines Register. He recently acquired Ride the Rockies, a similar week-long ride in Colorado that longtime Colorado resident Drake will manage.

Matt phippen

Phippen said his experience with RAGBRAI dates back to the age of 10 in 1990 and the runners camped overnight in front of his parents’ house in Oelwein. He said that they had turned the spacious yard “into a city” of tents and that he never forgot the feelings that had fueled him that day.

“Everyone was so awesome and welcoming.” said Phippen. “I was a 10 year old and nobody cared. They talked to me and asked me questions about me.”

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New RAGBRAI Manager Matt Phippen, in the Scheels jersey, high-fives, left to right, with Scott Olsen, RAGBRAI staff member Andrea Parrott and Iowa bike podcaster Kathy Murphy on the tour inspection of the RAGBRAI 2021 route.

A year later, his father, a policeman, brought home an ATV that a RAGBRAI rider left in Oelwein. Phippen still laughs when he says his first bike is from RAGBRAI and that he has been riding it at least one day a year since 1998.

RAGBRAI organizers run an annual route inspection tour during the first full week of June. Phippen said he started participating in these rides around 10 years ago and got to see how RAGBRAI was planned from the inside out, with mentorship from Drake, former manager TJ Juskiewicz and d ‘others.

As Director, Phippen will oversee the planning and logistics of the trip, working with sponsors, law enforcement, medical staff, government officials and other city representatives along the seven-day route. , which changes every year.

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Matt Phippen cools off on a slide in Donnellson on the last day of the 2019 RAGBRAI Route Inspection Tour. Phippen takes over as RAGBRAI Director on Monday.

Communities in Iowa compete each year to be designated as overnight stops, waypoints, or hangouts. Who will be hosting this year’s RAGBRAI XLIX will be announced at a party on January 28 at the Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

“Every city has a story to tell, and RAGBRAI is the way to tell its story,” said Phippen. “It’s their platform to show off their city.”

In addition to Ride the Rockies, Drake, who commuted to Iowa while managing RAGBRAI, will also be in charge of two Gannett-owned cycling events in upstate New York. He will be Phippen’s boss, but Phippen will be in charge of RAGBRAI’s day-to-day planning.

Because the COVID-19 outbreak forced the 2020 ride to be canceled, Drake’s only ride as manager was in 2021, when he moved from Le Mars to Clinton. While some cities struggled to find enough volunteers, and the pandemic made fundraising efforts difficult, the ride went with just a few of the usual bumps.

Matt Phippen, center, Scott Olsen, left, and Scott Sumpter, right, drive the optional gravel road from Fort Dodge to Webster City on the 2021 RAGBRAI Road Inspection Tour. RAGBRAI Monday.

Joining the riders for the traditional Mississippi River tire descent on the last day of the ride, Drake said he enjoyed running the world’s largest annual bike ride.

“I was a kid in a candy store seeing all these people come out and do all of their dedication over the last 18 months to make it happen,” he said. “Iowa is just an amazing place to ride a bike.”

In addition to his participation in inspection rides, Phippen, who lives in Vinton, knows many people in the Iowa cycling community through his work at Scheels and as a RAGBRAI salesperson and sponsor and participating in planning committees. RAGBRAI.

He said his favorite part of RAGBRAI is the way the ride, which will mark its 50th year in 2023, crosses the generations. Phippen and his wife have three daughters, and he said he loves seeing girls riding RAGBRAI for the first time with their fathers. He also reveled in the stories of people who ride every year until the age of 70, 80 and even 90. And he said he was proud that Iowa is still a place where families open their homes to cyclists around the world and “house them for a day” like his family did 32 years ago.

Former RAGBRAI Ride Manager Dieter Drake pictured at the tire dipping site in Clinton on Saturday, July 31, 2021. Drake has been promoted and Matt Phippen has been appointed RAGBRAI manager effective Monday.

“Iowa is such an amazing state, and RAGBRAI really presents all the good it has to offer in a week,” said Phippen.

As he spoke, he was still adjusting to the idea of ​​quitting his job at Scheels, where he has worked since graduating high school, starting with a part-time job at the Cedar Falls store. . His future wife Danielle was working as a part-time cashier when they met in 2000.

He said he expected to become a cop like his father. Later, after familiarizing himself with Scheels, he said, he thought he would work there until he retired.

“Scheels has been my life since I was in high school,” he said, adding that the opportunity to lead RAGBRAI was the only job that could have taken him away from the chain based in Fargo, North Dakota. .

Matt Phippen takes a break outside the UNI-Dome during the 2015 RAGBRAI Road Inspection Tour. Phippen takes over on Monday as Director of RAGBRAI.

He said he was excited to hit the road and meet officials in the cities of RAGBAI 2022.

“I love the course, he said, without revealing the still secret destinations. It’s going to be a nice course.”

When Phippen was cycling director for Scheels, he said, his goal was “to have another ass on a seat.” Now that he’s responsible for more than 10,000 butts on the seats, he said, he sees it as the perfect opportunity to spread his love for cycling.

“I will be retiring as director of RAGBRAI,” said Phippen. “I pour into everything.”

Philip Joens covers the latest news for The Des Moines Register. He can be reached at 515-443-3347 at [email protected] or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.

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