Team Flamingo Makes Bold RAGBRAI Statement - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Team Flamingo Makes Bold RAGBRAI Statement

RAGBRAI is the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This year, thousands of riders will roll from Rock Rapids to Bellevue. One local team that will definitely turn some heads. At first, they look like any other group of bicyclists. But look closer and you'll see their pink feather boas, flamingos on their helmets, and even on their socks. Team Flamingo is a fixture at RAGBRAI with riders taking part the last 23 years. Mike Knapp says, "We're real popular. People like to get photo ops with us. Sometimes it's hard to walk across the street because people keep stopping you to take pictures with you." Leigh Zeitz says, "I don't know that we're wild. We're ostentatious. We're notable. You know when we're coming in." Team members usually don't call each other by name. There's "Papa Bird", "Z Bird" and "Lazy Bird." The team has a lot of fun but Team Flamingo has a serious purpose - to raise money for Grin n Grow Child Care in Waterloo. They've raised 80 thousand dollars. That's helped fund playgrounds and scholarships for low-income families. Zeitz says,"The thing is what we're doing is bringing the community together to support the needs at Grin n Grow. Kids whose parents can't afford the care they need or can't get the subsidies they need." Mike Knapp, also known as "Papa Bird" started riding RAGBRAI in 1983. The support bus then had a flamingo on it. Knapp says, "It sort of evolved over the years then we added feathers and pink boas and beads and stickers and on and on and now we're sort of a regular fixture on the ride." Zeitz says, "We need to have a release. I'm a professor at the university. I'm always bumping into students there and they say, 'Dr. Z??????'" So look for Team Flamingo on this year's route. They won't be hard to spot. Team Flamingo members really take the pink theme to heart. Some dye their hair pink. Mike Knapp dyes his beard. It's all designed to raise more money.
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