Full-Time Riders (17 birds)

Big Bird (Mike Knapp) - Cofounder

Co-founder of Team Flamingo. Has ridden every RAGBRAI since1983.  Look for his trademark “pink beard” which started out from losing a bet but has become an annual fixture. When not on his bike directs Grin and Grow Child Care, a non-profit child care agency in Waterloo. Besides biking as a hobby, Mike is learning to play the bagpipes, but if you pedal fast enough you don’t have to hear him!  

Whiny Bird (Mica Lorenz) - Cofounder

Whiny Bird is a co-founder of Team Flamingo. Mica has only missed one RAGBRAI (2004) since 1984.  She is employed by the US Postal Service as a Letter Carrier. Keeps the team focused and on task, though has a tendency to leave keys dangling from the support van door.  When not on her bike or carrying mail, Mica serves as an elected Trustee at Hawkeye Community College.

Z-Bird (Leigh Zeitz)

Has ridden since RAGBRAI  30.   Z-Bird serves as the Webmaster and Team Media Hound. He  can always be found within a stone’s throw of a camera or reporter.  Better known as Big Bird’s “Evil Twin,” whom he often gets into trouble with his high jinx on the route. When not being interviewed, Z-Bird is Dr. Z who is an instructional Technology professor at the University of Northern Iowa. You can learn more about him at Drzreflects.com

Crafty Bird (Deb Shoopman)

Deb has ridden since Ragbrai 31. She is a social worker for the Waterloo Community Schools.  Avid hand crafter, Deb makes thank you kits for our RAGBRAI hosts. Shoop is also known as “The Housing Goddess” due to her uncanny knack for securing overnight hosts for us on RAGBRAI through a vast network of friends and family.

Salsa Bird (Heather Flory)

Heather has ridden RAGBRAI since #32  She is looking forward to "pumping her pedals" on XXXVIII.  A fast rider with a penchant for the Latin beat and fluent in Spanish. Will stop for pie anytime, anywhere.

Lazy Bird (Chris Zeitz) 

RAGBRAI 33, 34, 35 & 36.  Currently the youngest member of the youngest member of the team which explains why he rides a trike (recumbent that is). Lazy just graduated from Kaplan University with a degree in Criminal Justice. Chris is the son of Z-Bird and Kat Bird. 

Solar Bird (Carolyn Hildebrandt)

RAGBRAI 35 was her first ride on RAGBRAI, but Solar Bird ihas been working like a dog . . . er . . . flamingo to get ready for the ride. Solar is ready for RAGBRA.  Look at her solar-powered light on her bike. 

Niwatori Bird (Patrick Malloy)

First year with Team Flamingo on RAGBRAI.  Couldn’t go last year as studying in Turkey.  Instructor at Hawkeye Community College.  Pat’s wife says “Niwatori” means garden bird in Japanese, but Pat say’s it really just a chicken. Personally I’d have gone for the Japanese word for flamingo.

Northern Bird (Jodi Plopan)

RAGBRAI veteran.  Original member of the Michigan charter of Team Flamingo.  Habitat for Humanity volunteer.  Fearless and ready to take on any challenge.  Champion bull rider from last year’s RAGBRAI.

Doyle Bird (Jeff Doyle)

RAGBRAI veteran and member of Team Flamingo’s Michigan charter.  Placed in regional skillet throwing championships on last year’s RAGBRAI.  Waiting to make it through puberty so can grow a beard and go pink on RAGBRAI with the rest of the men.

Bubbles Bird (Phyllis Baker)

RAGBRAI veteran. First RAGBRAI with Team Flamingo.   UNI professor with 2 children.  Is a distance runner when not biking.

Flash Bird (Kevin Leicht)

RAGBRAI veteran. First RAGBRAI with Team Flamingo. U of Iowa sociology professor with 2 children.  Likes to golf.

Mini-Shoop Bird (Emily Shoopman)

RAGBRAIveteran.  Works for State Farm as an actuary.  Does triathlons in her free time.  Daughter of Crafty Bird, and alumni of Grin and Grow.

J-Bird (Jessica Luitjohan)

RAGBRAI virgin. Pediatric Psychologist out of St. Louis .  Karaoke champion. Habitat for Humanity volunteer.  Spends free time hiking and camping.  Now ready for a crazy long bike experience.

Thunder Bird (Elizabeth Jara)

RAGBRAI virgin. Goes by “Thunderbird” in honor of her years of service in the USAF.  Married with 4 children.  Teaches aerobics.  Currently lives in Little Rock, AR. Friends of Jodi and Elizabeth.

Audrey Hep Bird (Amanda Wilson)

RAGBRAI virgin.  UNI graduate.  Now in grad school at Miami University of Ohio.  Niece of Whiney Bird and Big Bird.  Enjoys traveling and eating good food.  Doesn’t mind being around smelly crowds as spent semesters in France working on her degree.

Fire Bird (Chris Distelrath)

Second year on RAGBRAI.  One of the Team’s Michiganders.  Got a new bike for this year’s ride.  Stops at every fire station for pictures.  Always up for a challenge and attempts to ride herd on the Michigan riders when called upon.

Part Time Riders (7 Birds)

Word Bird (Julie Husband)

RAGBRAI virgin. American Lit. professor at UNI.  Married with 3 kids and 2 cats.  Looking forward to her RAGBRAI experience for the last three days of the ride.

Meadow Bird (Jane Bentley-Gadow)
RAGBRAI virgin and a
vid outdoors person. When not hiking Yellowstone National Park, Glacier Park or the Canadian Yukon, Meadow Bird advises undergraduate students at the University of Northern Iowa. Meadow Bird backs an awesome pie.

Mountain Bird (John Gadow)

RAGBRAI virgin and husband of Meadow Bird. Mountain Bird is also an avid outdoors person who sees RAGBRAI as his next adventure.

Sandy Bird (Brian Sanderman)
Waterloo architect with designs on RAGBRAI.  One day hopes to do the whole week rather then just a few days.  Also on Grin and Grow’s Board of Directors.

Blarney Bird (Pat Morrissey)

A veteran of Team Flamingo’s early years, Pat rode RAGBRAI 12, 13, 17 and XXXV.  Probably the shortest member of Team Flamingo, Pat could always be counted on to bring those around him “down to his level” with his unique sense of humor and fiery politics.  Back this year again. Just got married the last week of June.

Mag Bird (Frank Magsamen)

Current member of the Board of Supervisors for Black Hawk County. Riding for 2 days to support scholarships for at-risk children at Grin and Grow and to keep Big Bird and Crafty Bird from getting into trouble.

Bird Schadt (Carl Schadt)

RAGBRAI virgin.  Riding for the day out of Waterloo to see if he gets bit by the RAGBRAI bug.  Recently retired from John Deere.  Does great impressions and makes balloon animals.

Support Team (5 Drivers)

Mama Bird (Bev Shaffer) 

Bev is the long standing support person for the team, having driven the team van every year (with the except 2002) since 1999.  Bev is also the mother of Mica Lorenz, co-founder of Team Flamingo.  When not driving support and garage sale shopping along the route towns, Bev works as a hotel desk manager in Madison, Wisconsin.

Kat Bird (Kathy Klink-Zeitz)

Joined the team on RAGBRAI 34 to drive second support vehicle needed to haul Lazy Bird’s trike recumbent bike.  When not flying with the flock, Kat Bird is the Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Black Hawk County in Cedar Falls.

Roger Hahn 

Roger made his debut with Team Flamingo on RAGBRAI 33. He will be driving for RAGBRAI XXXVIII.


Cindy Hahn 

Cindy made her debut with Team Flamingo on RAGBRAI 33.  She will be driving for RAGBRAI XXXVIII.

Larry Bird (Larry Plopan)

Father of Northern Bird.  He is the man who keeps her trip together. Larry is NOT the basketball player of yore.

Flamingos Not Riding This Year

MustGo Bird (Juanita Williams)

Joined Team Flamingo on RAGBRAI 27 . She returned for RAGBRAI 35 and toured places none of us had the opportunity to visit. She is reknown for her delicious MustGo casserole. MustGo will blaze a trail for XXXVI.

Early Bird (Al Hays)

Early Bird has been a regular since XXXV. He will be roaming the fields of Northern Ireland and Scotland while we ride across Iowa. He is all about getting up early and getting the "riding done." 

Dancin' Bird (Stephanie Lawrence)

RAGBRAI 33. Famous for her “Men of RAGBRAI 33” calendar.  Fell in love with RAGBRAI and has been trying to get back since. This may be the year.  Look for her dancing up a storm in the beer garden.  When not dancing or on her bike, Stephanie works as a drug counselor.

Alaina Small

Daughter of The Housing Goddess, Alaina is also an alumnus of Grin and Grow.  Rode with Team Flamingo for RAGBRAIs 34 - 36.

Music Bird (Bryn Sumner)

Bryn made her debut with Team Flamingo on RAGBRAI 33 to celebrate graduation from high school and kick back before college.  She returned on RAGBRAIs 35 and 36. 

Sailing Bird (Del Carpenter)

Sailing Bird claims to have windsurfed at least once a month for the past 15 years.  No small feat when you consider that he has done it in the snow drifts as well as the lake swells.  He rode for a day across Iowa in RAGBRAI XXXV.  It was a breeze.

Pink Ribbon Bird (Christine Carpenter)

Pink Ribbon Bird returned from her breast cancer advocacy work in Washington, DC just in time to join Team Flamingo for RAGBRAI XXXV.  Check out the Iowa Breast Cancer Edu-action website to learn more about what Pink Ribbon Bird and her fellow advocates do when they aren't riding bicycles.

Pal Bird (Michael Park)

Rides with Jodi. Pal rode with Team Flamingo last year, RAGBRAI XXXV, and flew the coop leaving us in his dust.

Mare Madsen Schmidt

She  won her opportunity to ride RAGBRAI XXXV with Team  Flamingo at a Grin and Grow auction.   She galloped along the trails with cool abandon.


Shortcake Bird (Cindy Howard)

Rode and ate strawberry shortcake on RAGBRAI XXXV.  Shortcake took flight. 


Scoop Bird (Kathi Sommerfelt)

An ice cream aficionado, Scoop stays cool while she rides.  RAGBRAI XXXV was her first RAGBRAI. 


Susie Shaefer





KC Bird (Jessica Knapp)

Daughter of Big Bird, Jessica is a veteran of RAGBRAI 21, 23, 24, 26 & 30.  First impressions of RAGBRAI--- “Great if you’re 21 and not with your parents.”  Unfortunately at the time she wasn’t and was!  Still had a good enough time to ride several more years before moving to Kansas City.

Pierced Bird (Katrina Debs)

RAGBRAI 27, 28 & 29 veteran.  Holds the distinction as the first member to dye their hair pink for the ride.  Always a social activist is now off saving the world somewhere.

Lost Bird (Troy Knapp)

Son of Big Bird, Troy is a veteran of RAGBRAI 11, 12, 19, 24, 25, & 26. When not on his bike, he could be found putting sunscreen on his Marilyn Monroe tattoo.  Now an old family man, we’re waiting for him and Delaney and Illeana (Mike and Mica’s granddaughters) to come on the ride.  Though its doubtful he could keep up the pace with Big Bird.  Sells Toyota’s in Iowa City (give him a call if in the market for a new car!)

Puking Bird (Robert Foster)

Rob holds the team distinction of spending the most continuous days on any RAGBRAI being sick.  Had such a miserable experience on RAGBRAI 25 that he sold his bike upon returning home and has never ridden one since.  Troy calls him each year on RAGBRAI to remind him of the ride.

Stinky Bird (Brian Green)

Another one of Troy’s friends.  Joined the team for RAGBRAI 25, but neglected to bring an adequate change of clothes.  Best to keep upwind of him on the ride.

Ramirez Bird (Scott Ream)

Joined the team in 1998 for RAGBRAI 26.  A tattoo wonder who almost got Big Bird to shave the hair on his back, get Jerry Garcia’s face tattooed, and then let the back hair  grow back in for Jerry’s beard and hair.  By the end of the week, Big Bird was thinking that would be way cool, but luckily the lack of a tattoo parlor saved him from making a huge mistake!

Red Ryder (Ron Roberts) 

Another Team Flamingo member from the early years, Ron road RAGBRAI 13 & 14.  Not the neatest guy on the ride (tent was declared a national disaster area more then once), but always one of the coolest members of the team.  Regaled the team with stories of dining with Daniel Ortega and traveling with Julie Christy on a peace mission in Nicaragua.  Ron is now a retired Sociology professor from the University of Northern Iowa.

Team Wus (Carol Cook-Roberts)
Had such a bad time on RAGBRAI 14, that she called home to be picked up.  Too crowded, too stressful was all she said as she boarded her dad’s white Cadillac for the ride home.  Earned the title of first “TEAM WUS” which was presented to her engraved on a biking Christmas ornament that year.

Jimmy John (Jim Johnston)
RAGBRAI 12 & 13 made Jim one of our inaugural team members.  Jim was one of the early technophobes on the ride, calculating and resetting his bike computer to record accurate mileage of each day’s ride.

John Lorenz

Mica’s younger brother, John road RAGBRAI 12 & 13 on Team Flamingo.  Was amazed at how slow his older sister rode.


NIght Rider (Mary Beth Stalp)

Night Rider loves to go on the training rides, but she can't stay out in the sun in the heat of the RAGBRAI day. Says she will burn like a raisin. She drove support during RAGBRAI XXXV.

Puffing Bird (Rod Debs)

Puffing Bird was a great support person in days of yore.  He was known to ride for hours (in the van.)


Honorable Mention

Frank & Mary Olson

They may not ride, but they are great supporters of our efforts and our cause.


Mark and Louise Allstrom

Joined Team Flamingo as our “Aussie” contingent.  Unfortunately they had to leave for Canada before riding RAGBRAI 33.