Edwards’ Butt Hurts — RAGBRAI

Drudge has a headline Edwards bikes with Lance Armstrong: ‘The biggest problem is my butt hurts.’ This is an occasion where context is necessary, and as a multi-year veteran of the annual craziness of crossing the non-flat state of Iowa (AKA northern end of the Ozarks, and this year is relatively flat) on a bicycle at roughly 80 miles per day, I’m amazed any Presidential candidate would even attempt a day of this. But Edwards (54) is younger than most. RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa — Register meaning the Des Moines Register, the source of this article) is the granddaddy of all big bike rides, having started in 1973. The Register assumes you know the context, AND you know the towns they are talking about. This is big news in Iowa, and nowhere else.

As a bicycle rider, I looked at this and went wow, even Kerry didn’t do something like this. Then I looked up the towns he cycled between, about 10 miles apart (his route was no more than 15 miles). Guess he didn’t. But that is two pork chops in 15 miles, time to sue someone for excess cholesterol. (I’ve eaten the products of the previous link! Edwards has too)

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards squeezed into a pair of Spandex bike shorts today and pedaled on the RAGBRAI route with champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

After riding from just north of Dumont to Kesley, Edwards wrapped his arms around a several riders from Team Killer Bees for a photo, but declined be held aloft in their traditional sideways pose. “You’d drop me, then I couldn’t be president,” he joked.

Then he sat down in Kesley for a diet soda and a pork chop. “My second,” he said.

I can’t blame him for the chop, which I know was at least an inch thick and perfectly grilled. RAGBRAI Teams are like New Orleans Krews.

Edwards rode at an easy pace, about 10 to 12 mph, and chatted with riders about whatever issues they brought up — Darfur, taxes, Iowa farming. Several riders inquired about Elizabeth Edwards’ health — she was diagnosed this year with a recurrence of breast cancer — and wished her well.

Armstrong said he invited all the presidential candidates to ride on RAGBRAI with him but so far Edwards was the only one who took him up on it.

More context. 12 mph is a decent RAGBRAI pace. You are there for the trip, not to race. REPEAT, this is not a race, it is a ride. Armstrong has an annual Coast-to-Coast bike ride/fundraiser for cancer. It coincides with RAGBRAI across Iowa, lots of publicity, great PR. Lots of awareness. Since Iowa is the proxy for the middle of America in the nomination process, you can’t go wrong by riding in RAGBRAI (unless you do the naked beer slides late at night, of which I’ve never done, cough). So other pols recognize this as a must do event (probably 60% of the participants are from Iowa, which isn’t as straight-laced as you imagine)

Democrat Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, was also scheduled to ride today and Republican Mitt Romney’s sons are riding Friday. Democrat Chris Dodd will have an event on the route in Dyersville on Friday.

Asked why he wanted a taste of RAGBRAI, he answered, “Lance has become a friend. Proud of what he’s doing, particularly on the cancer issue. It’s obviously very important to us personally. And I’ve heard about this race — err, race — this ride, ever since I’d been coming to Iowa so I wanted to see what it looked like.”

Yep, not a race, a RIDE. And the pols recognize that not everyone in Iowa is fat-laden. This is a week of coverage in the major paper.

Edwards has only biked two or three times in the last 20 years, but he runs four to six miles a day and is serious about sticking to that exercise routine. Edwards said Armstrong told him an hour’s worth of running is equivalent to about three hours of bicycling.

To warm up for RAGBRAI, Edwards rode 22 miles on Sunday in the hills of his home state, North Carolina.

“This is actually not hard, this is fun,” Edwards said as he climbed a hill on County Road T16 on a black Trek road bike he borrowed for the day. “The biggest problem is my butt hurts. Is that normal?”

“Do you want some Chamois Butt’r?” Peter Klein, of Beloit, Wisc., asked him.

Personally I prefer Udder Balm on the skin. Chamois Butt’r is better in advance on the soft leather inside the lycra/spandex.

Bottom line, Edwards cycled 12-15 miles with Lance Armstrong showing his support for cancer research. His butt hurt. He isn’t a cyclist. hasn’t cycled in years, but standby for claims that he is.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Political Theory, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Richard Gardner
About Richard Gardner
Richard Gardner is a “retired” Navy Submarine Officer with military policy, arms control, and budgeting experience. He contributed over 100 pieces to OTB between January 2004 and August 2008, covering special events. He has a BS in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.


  1. Ugh says:

    RAGBRAI – the largest mobile party in the world.

  2. nhmind says:

    Finally, an honest and candid candidate…
    “I ate 2 porkchops and my butt hurts”..

    I could almost vote for the guy.

  3. not the senator says:

    At least you’re giving him some due respect for taking part. Most of the coverage I’ve seen makes fun of him for wearing spandex. Obviously not written by anyone who’s ever ridden.

    Look people, the spandex isn’t a fashion statement, it’s to keep from getting crotch rash from the rubbing of loose clothes as you pedal. There is a reason for wearing it. Stop the jokes.

  4. Mardee says:

    Not sure what was meant by that last line – you won’t be hearing John Edwards claim he is an avid cyclist. He already said he has only cycled a few times in the last 20 years.

    Generally a nice article and as an Edwards supporter, I thank you.

  5. Pug says:

    In the picture I saw it looked like John had enough sense to put some looser shorts on over the Spandex. Lance was looking dapper, though, in the Spandex. That’s a look not everybody can pull off.

  6. Jim Henley says:

    Soon Michelle Malkin will be claiming that Edwards’ butt didn’t really hurt, or he hurt his own butt, or something.

    I like Aquaphor as a lube, largely because it’s still there after the swim leg.

  7. markm says:

    To the bicycle seat makers of America…be afraid cause John is going to sue your arse for chafing his!!!