Not Quite Like Riding a Bike--Muslim Athletes' Road to RAGBRAI

Jul 31, 2015

Raha Moharrak had been a world-renowned athlete for years, but still had one gap in knowledge. 

"I was a little bit arrogant," says Moharrak. "I said, 'Oh I climbed fourteen mountains including Everest, I can learn a bike.' I was wrong. I needed help."

But she learned to ride and this month joined RAGBRAI at the urging of Mara Gubuan, an Urbandale native who originally set out to ride RAGBRAI with her high school friends for their fiftieth birthday. Gubuan works with Shirzanan Global, an organization that empowers Muslim women through sport. 

"I grew up not having role models in the Arab world," Moharrak says. "And one day, I stumbled upon mountain climbing and I fell in love with it. It was very important for us to bring this topic to life because a lot of people aren't aware of it. A lot of people don't know that in some countries, it's illegal, not just unaccepted. Bicycles were illegal in Saudi for me."

In this Talk of Iowa interview, host Emily Woodbury talks with Gubuan and Moharrak about Team Shirzanan, their RAGBRAI ride, and the importance of athletics to women the world over.