Munson: Team Fly grandma becomes attorney on RAGBRAI

Team Fly member Gayle Jordan, left, of Tenneseee takes an oath to become an attorney on the steps of the Hardin County courthouse in Eldora, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, during RAGBRAI XLIII. Her grandson Aden Rawls, 10, holds a copy of the US Constitution. (Rodney White/The Register)

Team Fly member Gayle Jordan, left, of Tenneseee takes an oath to become an attorney on the steps of the Hardin County courthouse in Eldora, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, during RAGBRAI XLIII. Her grandson Aden Rawls, 10, holds a copy of the US Constitution. (Rodney White/The Register)

Eldora, Ia. – Gayle Jordan stood on the Hardin County Courthouse steps, raised her right hand and swore an oath.

The courthouse clock had just chimed 8 a.m. Bicyclists streamed through the town square en route to Cedar Falls.
“I solemnly affirm that I will support the Constitution of the United States,” she said when prompted, “the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor of law to the best of my knowledge and ability.”

I’ve seen my share of ceremonies on RAGBRAI. Witnessed a wedding last year on the beach at Clear Lake.

But this was my first time to watch a 54-year-old grandmother become a lawyer on RAGBRAI while decked out in her Team Fly jersey. Her grandson, Aden, 10, held a book version of the Constitution where his grandmother placed her left hand. Friend Libby Buckmeister from Des Moines — whom Jordan met in a Facebook group dedicated to atheists and free-thinkers — conducted the quick ceremony, armed with her Notary Public ink stamp.

A small breakfast buffet of Nutty Bars and other treats from the local grocery store sat on the sidewalk.

The other 25 or so members of Team Fly swarmed a teary Jordan in a giant group hug once the ritual was complete.

Team Fly members group hug newly-admitted attorney Gayle Jordan of Tenneseee after a ceremony on the steps of the Hardin County courthouse in Eldora, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, during RAGBRAI XLIII. (Rodney White/the Register)

Team Fly members group hug newly-admitted attorney Gayle Jordan of Tenneseee after a ceremony on the steps of the Hardin County courthouse in Eldora, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, during RAGBRAI XLIII. (Rodney White/the Register)

She passed the California bar in February. But Jordan decided to save this last, symbolic step for the steps of the Hardin County County courthouse, about 1,700 miles away from Los Angeles where her Concord Law School online program is based.

Becoming an attorney had been a lifelong dream – one that she had delayed for kids and family. She’s also a former high school English and math teacher.

“I just wouldn’t let it go,” she said.

“It’s what happens when you’re Type A and you have a dream,” explained her son, Sam, 27, who’s a river ranger in central Colorado.

Team Fly began in 1990 just with Jordan and her nuclear family: husband Jesse and their four small kids. They had been inspired by Jordan’s father, who biked RAGBRAI in 1985.

The team gradually evolved elaborate rituals and gear and now spans at least half a dozen states. It travels in what may rate the coolest bus of RAGBRAI: a behemoth customized with airplane parts, including a propeller attached to the front and airline seats and overhead bins inside. (The engineering mastermind is Jesse, who flies for Delta.)

Team Fly even has outlasted Jordan and Jesse’s marriage, which dissolved about five years ago. Yet everybody still convenes for RAGBRAI, the reliable and amicable family reunion — with an extra cast of friends and even Jesse’s girlfriend — on the annual calendar.

Jordan chose to take her oath this week to be surrounded by her far-flung family. Wednesday became the logical choice considering both the relatively short jaunt of 58 miles to pedal and with the stony grandeur of the Hardin County Courthouse as backdrop.

Jordan plans to focus on constitutional law and LGBTQ civil rights. She may move to California from her current small farm in Tennessee.

“Any hippie, lefty, liberal, Democratic issue –- just put me down there,” she chuckled.

Team Fly member Gayle Jordan, left, of Tenneseee takes an oath to become an attorney on the steps of the Hardin County courthouse in Eldora, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, during RAGBRAI XLIII. Her grandson Aden Rawls, 10, holds a copy of the US Constitution. (Rodney White/The Register)

Team Fly member Gayle Jordan, left, of Tenneseee takes an oath to become an attorney on the steps of the Hardin County courthouse in Eldora, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, during RAGBRAI XLIII. Her grandson Aden Rawls, 10, holds a copy of the US Constitution. (Rodney White/The Register)

Their sharply contrasting politics and philosophy in part are why she and Jesse divorced, she added. He’s a conservative, Christian Republican. Jesse agreed that that was generally accurate, although he said that they both started out Republicans.

The only remaining step after Wednesday’s ceremony was to drop a card in the mail at the local post office with Buckmeister’s seal of approval.

It should be easy to spot Team Fly along the route to say congrats to Jordan. They’re an entertaining bunch. Jordan’s daughter, Glenda, regularly hula hoops with fire in the overnight towns.

Not to mention the team convened back at its bus Wednesday morning to primp for its annual “DragBRAI” tradition in which the men as well as ladies get dolled up in dresses and makeup.

It may be difficult for me to find another ceremonial side of RAGBRAI to top Team Fly.

Kyle Munson can be reached at 515-284-8124 or kmunson@dmreg.com. See more of his columns and video http://ift.tt/1CV8sai. Connect with him on Facebook (/KyleMunson) and Twitter (@KyleMunson).

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