For Nate Kaeding, the last Friday of July has typically meant the start of training camp.
This year, the former Iowa Hawkeye football star will be winding down his first RAGBRAI, a perk of not having to spend July gearing up to go back to work.
It’s the first time in 17 years that Kaeding, 31, isn’t preparing for an upcoming season.
He retired in April after a nine-year career in the National Football League.
“This will be like the official draw-the-line-in-the-sand moment, and I’ll start shifting gears to the next chapter,” Kaeding said.
His ride across the state has allowed him to see the state from a new perspective, though he says, he knew what to expect.
“The people I’ve met are great, but, being from Iowa, I knew it would be that way,” he said.
One woman in Bussey made Kaeding and his team of Iowa City and Coralville riders a homemade meal of chicken and noodles and angel food cake.
Along the route, he’s been talking with local vendors about their operations.
“I love the food aspect,” said Kaeding, a co-owner of two Iowa City restaurants. “I love the idea of highlighting local food. You ride your bike this week and you see it.”
There’s no doubt he’ll miss football, especially when game time comes around.
“I think it really hits you when that first game weekend comes along,” Kaeding said. “One thing that’s going to be hard that I’ll never replicate is getting out on that field and competing at the highest level.”
He has other things to look forward to this fall, however, like spending time with his wife and three children in Iowa City and starting the Executive MBA Program at the University of Iowa.
“That’ll be a time to explore my options and seek out what I really want to do,” he said.
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