Pearl of Muscatine: Greg Harper
by Margaret Hurlbert
February 03, 2023

MUSCATINE, Iowa–A lifelong cyclist, Greg Harper has for decades helped people find the right bike and maintain it. After graduating from Muscatine High School, studying business at Muscatine Community College and the American Institute of Commerce in the Quad Cities, he came to work full time for the family business, Harper’s Cycling and Fitness. From its earliest days in downtown Muscatine near the site of the Merrill Hotel to its current location on Grandview Avenue, Harper has enjoyed all the time he has spent at the shop working with customers and repairing bikes. “I love to ride bikes and help people with it,” he said.

Outside of his time at the store, Harper has gotten people excited about biking in other ways too. A longtime member of the Melon City Bike Club (which started as the Great River Peddle Wheelers when the Muscatine Community Y operated it out of their downtown location) Harper has participated in countless rides, giving cyclists of all experience levels the chance to make likeminded friends and explore a favorite activity together. Though currently just a member, Harper has held several leadership positions over the years, keeping the club going strong over many decades.

Since it’s creation 43 years ago, Harper has assisted with putting on the Melon City Criterium each Memorial Day Weekend in Weed Park. Harper has spent the majority of those years as race director, orchestrating a popular competition that draws riders from across eastern Iowa and beyond.

For 50 years, Harper has participated in the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, making him one of only three who had never missed a ride. As he put it, “that is one of my claims to fame.”

Greg Harper. Photo courtesy Greg Harper.

Since 1994, Harper’s Cycling and Fitness has had the honor of serving as a RAGBRAI affiliated shop. Each year, Harper assists cyclists doing RAGBRAI with repairs, taking what he described as a sort of a working vacation. Once he and a good friend from Cedar Rapids, who has also participated in each RAGBRAI, helped a fellow rider with repairs. Harper remembers the rider making his day by saying, “their bike was being worked on by royalty.”

The five times RAGBRAI has come to Muscatine, Harper valued getting to share his home town with cyclists from all over. He shared he always loved, “just watching the people come through Muscatine and talk about it and get excited about Muscatine.” He added, “I’m prejudiced, but I think Muscatine is the most welcoming ending town on the Mississippi.”

Whether in the shop or planning and putting on cycling events, Harper has always taken pride in getting to grow the biking community right in his own hometown. “I live here, and I grew up here, and I’m here to stay.”

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