Jeanna Negaard of rural Hawarden gradually became a bicycling enthusiast. She plans to ride in the Wellness on Wheels (WOW5) ride for the fourth time in five years on Saturday, June 6.
SIOUX CENTER – Jeanna Negaard’s love for bicycling has been an evolution.
The 55-year-old rural Hawarden woman had some friends who encouraged her to start biking more than 30 years ago. She first leisurely pedaled around town. She then started going on longer rides with her friends. That prompted her to upgrade her bicycle.
Then, she started taking part in more organized rides. She did one day of The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in 1998 and did a couple partial RAGBRAI trips during the next few years. She has pedaled the full weeklong trek across the state of Iowa every year since 2005.
Three of the last four years, Negaard has ridden the Wellness on Wheels bicycle ride put on by Promise Community Health Center during Sioux Center Summer Celebration and plans to ride WOW5 again on Saturday, June 6.
Being out on her bicycle on the country roads has become time that she relishes.
“You just kind of get hooked,” she said. “It became like a stress reliever. It revives me. It gives me more energy. You can’t wait to get back out there to ride again.”
Negaard does much personal training and riding on her own, but she typically goes on organized rides with other members of the Sioux County Bike Club. They call themselves Team Fungus Amongus and wear green jerseys for those rides. They also go on a few of their own informal rides together during the summer months.
Jeanna Negaard (fifth from left) enjoys the meal with other bicyclist friends after last year’s WOW bicycle ride in Sioux Center.
They rode the first WOW in 2011 and have tried to take part every year since. She said the event is “well-organized and supported.” In particular, she noted the SAG wagon personnel who are out and about to make sure everyone is getting along OK. For example, their group had two flat tires three years ago, and help came along for them. She also likes the rest stops that are situated along the way with snacks, beverages and water.
WOW has traditionally provided three ride options – a long route, an intermediate route and a family fun route. In the first four years, the longer routes headed northwest through the communities of Rock Valley, Doon and Hull.
For the fifth annual event, three new routes are being featured:
A nearly 60-mile route will travel through scenic southwestern Sioux County through the communities of Hawarden and Ireton;
A nearly 30-mile route will travel to Ireton and back;
A 6-mile family fun route will travel to Sandy Hollow Recreation Area and back.
Negaard said she and her friends would have ridden the WOW ride regardless, but the new routes have increased the excitement among the group. The riders plan to tackle the 60-mile trek that will go through her hometown region.
Team Fungus Amongus members Stephani Vanderhaar, Cheri Bosman, Ashley Lang, Amanda Penning, Sheri Varner and Jeanna Negaard pose for a photo in Hull during last year’s Des Moines Registers’ Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Their group plans to ride WOW5 on Saturday, June 6.
“That’s going to be so exciting,” she said. “We’re pumped about it.”
She encourages other bicyclists also to check out the WOW ride.
“It goes to a good cause. It’s a well-supported event. It’s local. You don’t have to go far to this event,” she said, noting that people from the Sioux County area have to travel to most other events. “If you’re starting out in biking, it’s good to be in an organized event because if you do have bike trouble, there are people there to help you.”
Negaard, who is a registered nurse at Hawarden Regional Heathcare, also thinks people should give bicycling a try.
“Biking can be done at all ages. It’s a good exercise. It’s good for the soul and the mind,” Negaard said. “With our bike club, we’ve become good friends through biking. We go to each other’s weddings and graduations. We’re kind of like one big family. That just makes it all the more enjoyable.”
Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. To learn more, visit www.promisechc.org.
ABOUT WOW: The fifth annual Wellness on Wheels (WOW5) bicycle ride in northwest Iowa will be Saturday, June 6, during Sioux Center Summer Celebration. Promise Community Health Center puts on the event with many great business sponsors.
This year’s event will feature longer distance 60- and 30-mile routes and a 6-mile family fun ride. It will include a complimentary T-shirt, a Casey’s breakfast pizza meal and prize giveaways.
Early-bird registration period runs through Monday, May 25, but registrations will be taken up until the start of the event. To register online, visit wow5.eventbrite.com. For more information or a paper registration form, visit www.promisechc.orgor call 712-722-1700.
To read a preview story about the event, click here.