Many significant father and daughter memories made together often include special day trips, daddy/daughter dances, perhaps playing sports together... but for one dynamic duo the memory made together stretched over 300 miles of exercise, and included climbs totaling 2900 ft.  The special father/daughter combination to make that happen is Holmdel's David Rampulla, and his 13 year old daughter Isobel. 

     With three children, Holmdel parents Teresa and David Rampulla try to enjoy alone time with each of them.  In every family, the normal full schedules of everyday life can often get in the way of making sure that memorable one on one time is shared.  Ensuring that these moments happen, the Rampulla family has initiated special family traditions that guarantee life long memories of one on one time shared with each child.  The way it works for the Rampulla's is that David gets to take each of the children on a special trip in honor of their 13th birthday, something adventurous that promises to take them a bit out of their comfort zone. (Mom Teresa has started to take each child on a journey to experience their heritage and just returned from Italy with their eldest daughter, traveling to honor her 16th birthday.)

     With their middle child turning 13 this year David decided to challenge her to The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).  It started 27 years ago with David's own adventure.  “I always loved the outdoors, riding, fresh air and adventure. I discovered RAGBRAI, a seven-day, 400 to 500 mile ride, that annually stretches in different routes across Iowa from the Missouri River to the Mighty Mississippi and I was in!" says Rampulla. Now in it’s 44th year, RAGBRAI is attended by over 15,000 riders from across the Globe.   

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     When David first rode his 472 mile quest in 1990 he imagined a day in which he would have a family of his own to share the experience with, possibly with one of his own children, and lead out on a physical and spiritual adventure together.  He was able to make that dream reality 27 years later by fulfilling that goal with his daughter Isobel.  Rampulla continues; "When I told Isobel about RAGBRAI she immediately said, 'yes!' I’m not sure if she was aware of the physically demanding nature of the ride, but she has always had the heart of a lion and once she said yes I was confident she would be up to the challenge."

     According to Rampulla; Each town traveled through in the bike tour was as unique from one another as corn cobs.  "The Iowans are proud of their heritage and want to share it with the guests of RAGBRAI. In some towns children lined the road with homemade motivational lawn signs thanking riders for their visit, while along the route whole families sat alongside the road to say 'good morning,' or ask where each rider is from. They welcome each of the thousands of riders who visit their special part of paradise. Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong even rides a segment each year and recently posted on his blog with reference to RAGBRAI: "It's like Woodstock on bikes."  

     Clear Lake, Iowa, brought David and his daughter Isobel a reunion of the Bob Marley’s Wailers, while in Castalia they enjoyed the talent of the Wissmann’s 13 siblings who played the most melodic folk music they’ve heard since watching the Cohen Brother’s movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou’. When they weren’t hugging piglets, enjoying Pro-wrestling, eating church dinners, meeting Miss Iowa, or tubing the Charles River, father and daughter enjoyed local food specialties, such as pork chops smoked over corn cobs by Iowa’s own Mr. Pork Chop who followed to tour every day in a hand painted pink school bus.

     When asked her thoughts on the tour, 13 year old Isobel says, “Besides a lot of bike riding, I didn’t know what to expect and I had no idea that Iowa had so many steep hills. Although it was challenging, being there with my dad made the challenge worth it. I met people from throughout Iowa and from all parts of the world. It was amazing how different life in Iowa is from our life in New Jersey. Some of the towns we traveled through had a population as little as 10 people. Even Iowa's big towns were small compared to Holmdel." When asked how she felt after riding over 300 plus miles, Isobel replied, “Proud!"  

     When asked in hindsight what he thought of the ride, Rampulla said, “On my first day coming home from work after the trip,  Isobel went out of her way to give me a big hug as I came in the door. I would ride a thousand miles just for that!"

So many local families with fantastic adventures...what's yours?

 

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