Ron Smith – The senior member of the group, at age 64, Ron is a retired speech/language pathologist from Indianola, Iowa, who worked for Heartland Education Agency for thirty eight years serving Carlisle, Norwalk, Pleasantville, Melcher/Dallas and Twin Cedars school districts. He retired this past year, wanting to devote more time to biking. Ron is an avid cyclist and has ridden most RAGBRAIs since 1990, as well as participating in other week-long trips in other states, though none have been as challenging as this one. He has a very understanding and supportive wife, Mary Jane Cassady; a daughter, Erika Runyan, also from Indianola; two sons, Jeff Cassady and Jason Cassady, from Minneapolis, Minnesota; and, four grandchildren, Megan, Jack, Tori and Elizabeth. Ron will miss his family while he is gone for two months, but couldn’t pass up this opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Roger Netsch – Definitely the best looking of our group, Roger comes from Indianola, Iowa. He and his wife of 34 years, Susan, have a son, Greg. They have lived in Indianola forever or 30+ years, whichever comes first. Roger retired from teaching at Indianola High School just this past December (2012) so he could go on this bike ride. Actively involved in his community, Roger is a fourth degree black-belt in tae kwon do and instructs tae kwon do for Two Rivers Martial Arts in Indianola. Additionally, he is a co-facilitator for the Young Parents Program, is a member of the Breakfast Lions Club of Indianola, and is an active member in the St. Thomas Aquinas Teens (STAT) youth group at his church. While on the ride, Roger is fund-raising for the food relief organization Mary’s Meals. Roger is not sure what he’s going to do in retirement. He’s going to want to get another job after the bike ride. He’s hoping to find some answers on the ride across the US. (Editor’s note: Roger obviously wrote his own bio!)
Phil Mattiussi – Originally from Des Moines, Phillip became a transplant to Adel, Iowa when he found a family willing to adopt him at 38 years of age. Phil’s family includes, his wife Karen, son Doug and daughter Teresa who also will be filling in on a leg of driver support for the group. An empty nest was soon to be filled by three large breed dogs: Moose, Izzy and Rudy. They not only give Karen and Phil a reason to get outside every day, but also provide some humor that can only be appreciated by dog owners. Phil retired from public service after 34 years in 2011. He now stays busy lending a hand when needed with friends and family. Cycling has been a constant in his life and developed into riding several RAGBRAIs with friends and his brother Dave. This morphed into riding with the Tall Dog Bike Club on now innumerable RAGBRAIs. He also has participated in rides in Arizona. Michigan, Utah, and Italy with friends and family members.The latest challenge was cycling for a relay team in the 2012 Hy Vee Triathlon. No doubt this ride will be his biggest challenge to date on two wheels.
Brian Myers – A 61 year old retired plumber and lifelong resident of Dallas Center, Iowa, Brian is a proud grandfather of five and fortunate to be married for 42 years to my beautiful wife Linda, who puts up with all my short comings. I love vacationing and partying on a bicycle but to ride for riding sake, is not a great love. I’m not about the miles. I have ridden on 25 plus RAGBRAI’s as well as Ireland, Italy and France. The Southern Comfort Ride will complete my compass for North, South, East and Western United States Trips. I will be the Lone Wolf “Mr. Happy”on the ride, and if that means going off route to save wear and tear on my legs and body, I will be on the road less traveled. My biggest fear for the ride will be being asked to leave! Don’t expect a lot of blog posts from me because I will be too busy cooking for my fellow riders and enjoying adult beverages “Southern Comfort” and a good cigar. “Pitter Patter Let’s Git At Er”