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Father and Father on RAGBRAI: Creighton president, dad prep for fabled ride across Iowa

Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, will embark on his first RAGBRAI ride Sunday, July 24.Starting Sunday, July 24, and over the course of the next six days, Creighton University President the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, SJ, will trade in his Roman collar for a bicycling jersey, his trademark cowboy boots for cycling shoes, and his desk chair for a bike seat.

Fr. Hendrickson will be the first Creighton president to take part in the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), commencing Sunday from Glenwood, Iowa.

“It is going to be a little adventure,” said Fr. Hendrickson, an avid cyclist who often can be found on two wheels in his free hours, moving swiftly along the streets and trails in and around Omaha. “RAGBRAI is a ride that you hear about all across the country and I am looking forward to getting out into the summer air, putting feet to the pedal, and meeting a lot of wonderful and interesting people.”

Since his arrival at Creighton last summer, Fr. Hendrickson has said that being in the saddle is good medicine for him and the spiritual feeling he finds on two wheels can be transcendent. The Jesuit ideal of being a contemplative in action finds purchase on a bike.

It will also be Fr. Hendrickson’s first RAGBRAI foray, an opportunity for him to not only connect with his love of biking, but also to see the countryside, breathe deeply of fresh air, connect with Creighton students, and maybe even build some bridges to the University, which has long seen Iowa as fertile ground for students.

The 2016 ride, the 43rd edition of the fabled race, will start in Glenwood and conclude in Muscatine — a nearly 420-mile route that includes several opportunities to test a cyclist’s climbing mettle.

“The challenge is there,” Fr. Hendrickson said with a laugh, especially noting the Day 2 course which takes riders from Shenandoah to Creston along a 75.2-mile stretch, rising through 3,994 feet of elevation. “That is why we do these things. I am hopeful to see a lot of friendly, encouraging faces all along the route.”

In preparation for making his circuit, Fr. Hendrickson has reached out to several local Catholic churches on the road and has secured overnight lodging stops.

Fr. Hendrickson’s own father, Jerry, will also be piloting a recreational vehicle, which will be making all the stops along the way and serving as a high-visibility mobile headquarters for Fr. Hendrickson and a beacon for any riders with Creighton ties. The RV is decked out in a wrap boldly Creighton blue and featuring the University’s logo.

It will be Father and Father on the journey across Iowa.

Follow Fr. Hendrickson’s progress via social media with Facebook (CreightonPresident) and Twitter (@CreightonPres).

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.