‘Shift’ captures a more human side of annual bicycle ride in Iowa

There’s a different RAGBRAI in “Shift: The RAGBRAI Documentary” than the one you might expect.

There’s a different RAGBRAI in “Shift: The RAGBRAI Documentary” than the one you might expect.

Instead of a rolling week-long party without Uber, it’s a place where riders meet new friends, experience resets and learn plenty about themselves – a tall order, considering most seem like they just want to have fun.

Directed by Courtney Crowder and Kelsey Kremer, the Des Moines Register documentary focuses on a handful of people who have embraced the ride and emerged richer for it.

Among the group: Torie Giffin, a Colorado resort owner who takes her son Daniel on the ride while he’s going through chemotherapy; Adam Lineberry, a recovering opioid addict who’s raising money to build a rehab center; Dayna Chandler, a veteran rider who wants to make cycling safe for women of color; and Andrew Boddicker and Ian Zahren, a Lansing, Iowa, couple who co-chair their community’s committee and demonstrate how great a small town can be.

For veteran riders, “Shift” is a smart look at the RAGBRAI they may have missed. For newcomers, it’s a primer of sorts about that crazy bike ride through Iowa during the hottest days of summer. Veteran columnist Chuck Offenburger provides a bit of background at the start of the film (RAGBRAI celebrates its 50th this year), then yields the road to those people in the mix.

While you do get to see some of the craziness in towns along the route, “Shift” doesn’t focus on the goofiness that tends to define the ride. It’s more interested in the people.

Crowder and Kremer get beautiful shots of hundreds of bikers rolling across the state, but they also get those up close-and-personal moments with their subjects. Daniel, for example, is called a cheater because he’s using an e-bike. When social media details his story, Iowa responds in an overwhelming way and shows just how welcoming the state can be.

“RAGBRAI reveals your character or builds your character,” Chandler says.

Dayna Chandler

Dayna Chandler shakes hands with another cyclist on RAGBRAI. 

It’s a telling assessment that suggests all is not one big party. As you see Chandler introduce herself to others, you get a sense of the isolation someone can feel among thousands of participants. When you meet Lineberry and his son Liam you discover a mission that exercises more than muscles.

In Lansing, Zahren and Boddicker reveal the work that goes into getting a stop ready for the masses. They also show how a community reacts to a same-sex couple and how stereotypes don’t have to thrive.

While it’s much shorter than a day on RAGBRAI (it’s less than an hour), “Shift” offers a slice of goodness to those who may have misjudged the Iowa tradition. It’s also the best stop on the route that doesn’t offer a piece of pie.


Bikes are carried out of the back of a moving truck during RAGBRAI Day Zero on Saturday in Sergeant Bluff.


Kelly and Tom Koenigs of Sergeant Bluff sit in the shade during RAGBRAI Day Zero on Saturday.


The Buckeye Bike and Brew Crew team from Tiffin, Ohio pose for a photo in front of a RAGBRAI display during RAGBRAI Day Zero on Saturday in Se…


Jamey Mossengren, also known as The Unicycling Unicorn, juggles a flaming torch, a knife and a selfie stick with his phone on it during RAGBRA…

2022 RAGBRAI Expo brings foam, salt tabs and tens of thousands of cyclists to Sergeant Bluff

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Cyclists from around the world gather in Sergeant Bluff on the eve of the first day of RAGBRAI.


A cyclist pumps a fist as riders leave Sergeant Bluff to begin RAGBRAI on Sunday.


Daniel White, left, and his dad, Timothy White, from Denver, Colorado dip their tires in water from the Missouri River on Sunday in Sergeant Bluff.


Riders pack up their belongings before beginning their trip across Iowa on Sunday in Sergeant Bluffs.


Carol Clark points riders in the direction of pie on Sunday in Sergeant Bluff.


RAGBRAI participants make their way out of Sergeant Bluff during the first day of RAGBRAI on Sunday.

And they're off...RAGBRAI riders set out from Sergeant Bluff

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Cyclists pass through Bronson and Anthon during the first day of RAGBRAI 2022 on Sunday.

RAGBRAI rolls into Charles City Thursday

Charles City is not shy in expressing confidence about the welcome riders will receive when they roll into town Thursday, the fourth stop of six on the 2022 RAGBRAI rout.