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Premier Garage’s Tim Blin: A 480 mile bike trek and a tick off his ‘bucket list’

As Tim Blin, owner of Premier Garage of Northeast Florida, approached the age of 40, hetim-by-the-river1 decided to make a “bucket list.” One of the items near the top of the list was completing a 480 mile bicycle trip across the state of Iowa.

“I’m originally from Iowa,” he said. “As a kid, I watched RAGBRAI come through our town of Independence and said to myself, ‘I’m going to do that someday.’ While on a family outing in Montana, I convinced my brother-in-law from Phoenix that we should do this.”

RAGBRAI stands for the “Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa,” sponsored by the Des Moines Register newspaper. The ride starts on the western border of Iowa at the Missouri River, where bikers dip their back tires into the river’s waters for good luck, and ends on the eastern edge of the state, where bikers, by tradition, end their trip by dipping their front tires into the Mississippi River.

“We started in Council Bluff in the west,” said Blin, “The weather was great. You just never know what the weather is going to be in Iowa. I was thankful it was not one of those 90-degree plus weeks. RAGBRAI is a seven-day ride and takes place the last week of July. This was its 37th year. It is the longest, largest, and oldest touring bicycle ride in the world. It attracts people from all 50 states and many foreign countries. This year they had 13,000 registered riders— people of all ages and physical abilities. I even saw someone riding a unicycle and another on roller blades.”

RAGBRAI is not a race; you take it at your own pace, averaging around 70 miles a day, Blin explained. Many riders take their time and stop at all the pass-through towns. Blin and his brother-in-law took a different approach: They rode to the overnight host towns as quickly as they could, although they did stop to enjoy the sites and food along the way.

“The towns really roll out the red carpet,” he said. “The town squares transform into a festival atmosphere with bands and all kinds of food. The homemade ice cream and pies were amazing!”

To take the ride, Blin shipped his bicycle to the starting pointing and flew to Omaha, Neb., where he met his brother-in-law, brother, and father, who were his support team. His father also had a motor home, where they slept each evening.

“This year the ride zigzagged through the southern part of Iowa,” he explained. “Every year the route changes. Many of the stay-over towns are quite small and to have about 20,000 people converge in one day is truly a site to see. Campgrounds and fairgrounds become tent and motor-home cities.”

To those who think riding across Iowa would be easy because the state is flat, Blin says, “Think again! It’s a beautiful part of the country, but it is definitely not flat. This ride was one of the 10 hilliest in the history of RAGBRAI. We climbed 22,000 feet over the course of the week. We found all of Iowa’s hills, and the muscles in my legs can attest to that!”

For Blin, riding across Iowa was as much of an accomplishment as opening his own franchise business five years ago. “I had been considering different business options when I visited my sister in Phoenix and saw that most of the garages out there had coated floors and storage cabinets—something you did not see a lot Florida. I then visited the headquarters of Premier Garage in Phoenix, and that led me to becoming Florida’s first franchise owner.”

Blin said business has held its own, even during the economic downturn. “Especially in uncertain times, people find comfort when things are in order. Getting rid of the clutter and having things organized has a strange effect on the brain. It makes you feel good and gives you a sense of control. I have a great team and we are approaching our 700th garage installation.” he said.

Blin is continuing to add to his “bucket list.”, “I’ve now taken up kite-boarding. This summer, I traveled to the outer banks of North Carolina to learn the sport and I’m hooked.”

After that? “I haven’t yet decided. But it will be something exciting—guaranteed.”

Tim Blin is the owner of Premier Garage of Northeast Florida, www.premiergarage.com. He can be contacted at 904-234-1699.

tim blin 4
Blin and his brother-in-law ‘dip their wheels’

A foggy morning to ride in Iowa
A foggy morning to ride in Iowa

 

Thousands of cyclists ride in the annual trek across Iowa.
Thousands of cyclists ride in the annual trek across Iowa.
Riding up and down Iowa's hills.
Riding up and down Iowa’s hills.
tim blin new-challenge
Blin’s new challenge: kite boarding.

 

 

 


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