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Embracing a new life and maintaining a positive attitude after a near-fatal bicycle crash

Guillermo Romano Ibarra came to eastern Iowa in the summer of 2019 to be part of the University of Iowa Medical Scientist Training Program. The rigorous seven or eight years of study results in an M.D. and a Ph.D.

Before that, Guillermo was living in Seattle when he started thinking about attending medical school. Iowa attracted him for a couple of reasons. His mother attended the University of Iowa and there were plenty of opportunities to continue an active lifestyle.

When Guillermo moved to Iowa City to begin medical school, he found an apartment he fell in love with.

"And it was this beautiful 19-teens building," said Ibarra, "brick on the outside and hardwood floors, and you had these arches inside ... There was a spiral staircase in the back and I loved that apartment."

Soon after settling into his new apartment in Iowa City, Guillermo rode part of Iowa’s famous RAGBRAI bike ride across the state with some friends. From there, he began to discover more trails in the area. Cycling was becoming a refuge for Guillermo. It was a nice change of pace from the demanding rigor of medical school.

On August 28, 2019, Guillermo took his high-performance road bike in for maintenance. Right after the tune-up, he decided to set out on a ride in the country on a beautiful late summer evening. The plan was to head south from Iowa City toward the town of Lone Tree. Little did he know, when he locked his door behind him, it would be the last time he would set foot in that apartment.

Water has the power to heal. That's why host Ben Kieffer met Ibarra at Lake MacBride State Park.

This episode was originally produced in April 2021.


  • Guillermo Romano Ibarra, medical student, Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Iowa
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River