Forget the heat. Forget the hills. Forget the hundreds of miles ahead of them.

Team Simpson is ready to put its mettle to the pedals on RAGBRAI XL.

This week, 52 stalwart riders will represent Simpson on the annual bicycle ride. You can find them wearing their special Simpson bicycle shirts along the route. Say hello. Or buy them a bottle of water. They’re going to need it.

You can follow their exploits each day of the route on the Simpson website. They also will update their trip with tweets (@SimpsonRagbrai) and on a blog: http://www.team-simpson.blogspot.com.

So what do we know about Team Simpson?

*About half of the members are alumni.

*Riders represent 12 states.

*The average age is 42, with a range between 19 and 68.

*72 percent are men, 28 percent are women.

*This year’s team includes two current students and one future student.

Family connections also are prominent this year. There are:

*Nine husband and wife teams.

*Two sets of brothers.

*A pair of fathers and sons.

*One set of parents and their daughter.

*An uncle and his nephew.

So let’s meet a few Team Simpson members:

*Bryan Gregston ’87 is a senior manager at Charles Schwab and lives in Arvada, Colo. (near Denver).  He has ridden on RAGBRAI two times, both with Team Simpson.  In addition to biking, Bryan likes running and cheering on his two children in their activities.  To someone new to RAGBRAI Bryan suggests packing each day’s clothes in separate Ziplock bags.  A favorite RAGBRAI memory for Bryan came last year when he saw a guy doing the entire RAGBRAI route using a longboard!

*Sacramento, California is the home of John Mathias, who works for California Energy Commission.  Both of John’s parents (Carolyn Bakker Mathias ’63 and Ron Mathias ’62) are Simpson alumni.  This will be his fifth RAGBRAI, four of which have been with Team Simpson.  He loves reconnecting with relatives in Iowa and RAGBRAI friends each July.  To those new to RAGBRAI, John suggests, “take your time and join the B Team.”  Last year’s great overnight stop in Grinnell is one of his favorite memories.  Mountain biking, hiking, windsurfing and sailing keep John busy when he is not training for RAGBRAI.

*Another new rider is Maribeth Brady Wright ’87, who lives in Norwalk and works for the Iowa Higher Education Loan Authority.  She likes to run, read, travel and watch her three kids play sports.  She decided to try RAGBRAI as, “a new challenge.”  She has a little RAGBRAI experience as she did ride one day a few years ago.

Again, if you live along the route, or just want to be where the action is, please make a point of saying hello to Team Simpson members. One of the great joys for team members is the opportunity to visit with alumni and friends of Simpson. Just don’t ask them if it’s hot enough for them.

See you along the route!

Sioux Center Fun Fact

This is the home of Vern Den Herder, who played defense end for the Miami Dolphins for 12 seasons in the 1970s and ‘80s. He was a key member of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team. His high school did not even offer football his first two years, but he quickly became a star in his junior and senior years.