Published on July 16th, 2013 | by Laura Billingsley

Team Jorts: Inside a RAGBRAI party bus (with video)

RAGBRAI riders come to Iowa for the pastoral scenery. They come for the pie. They come for the party. And some of them come for the jorts.

That’s short for jean shorts, and it’s part of the uniform for Team Jorts, a group of bicyclists who join together from around the country each year to ride across Iowa. The team is based in Des Moines and is the brainchild of Jason Waite, 33, and his high school buddy, Stephen Dudley. They were looking for a way to stay fit and have fun, and what better way than to ride across Iowa, making the trip into a moving party?

Team Jorts will soon embark on its fifth year of RAGBRAI, and team members will fly in from Washington, D.C., Miami, Denver, Alaska and Chicago.

Waite is readying his bus, which will act as a team hub during the overnight stops along the way. The bus is customized solely with RAGBRAI in mind, and it even features a rooftop party patio.

“It’s a little island up on top of a bus,” Waite said. “We’ve got music and people have fun.”

The bus is wired for stereo and has USB ports to charge mobile phones. A freezer keeps the team’s snacks and beer cold, and an RV-style bathroom is installed in the back. Shelves in the back provide a space for each rider to store his or her tote containing personal items for the trip. “You know where your tote is in the shelving system and it allows the bus to stay somewhat organized,” Waite said.

On the roof, colorful umbrellas create a shaded space for lawn chairs and a cooler or two. Team Jorts is sponsored by an Anheuser-Busch distributor in Cedar Rapids, which provides the team with cases of beer for the evenings after the ride. The team traditionally throws a party at the halfway point. “We just give out beer,” Waite said. “Our whole goal is to meet people. That’s what we want to be known for.”

Waite said it’s important to him and the other Iowa-based team members to support an event that takes place “right in your own backyard.”

And the jorts?

It started out as a joke among friends. “It’s a lifestyle,” Waite said. Much of the team remembers a time in the late ’80s and early ’90s when jean shorts were a popular choice, especially for men. He said it brings to mind “the guy who’s outside relaxing, mowing his lawn in his jorts. It’s a funny thing.”

The team’s official kit includes specially made bike shorts created to look like denim. The jersey looks like the top half of a tuxedo, complete with red bowtie.

“You can’t resist a man in a tuxedo,” Waite said.

When RAGBRAI rolls across Iowa starting Sunday through July 27, Team Jorts will be cruising along with it, bringing friends back together and proving jorts never go out of style.

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Laura is contributor to Juice Magazine.



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