This Saturday marks the beginning of the 39th annual RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa).
This year’s bike ride begins in Glenwood and travels across the state to end in Davenport. This year’s ride is said to be the 22nd easiest ride in history (only 17 rides have been tougher), with it being the 14th shortest (it’s 18 miles short of the average) and 24th flattest.
One of the most exciting parts about RAGBRAI is the chance that riders have to visit towns in Iowa that they might not have with the overnight host towns.
Atlantic is the first overnight host,with a population right over 7,000. Atlantic’s biggest claim to fame comes from them calling themselves the “Coca-Cola Capital of Iowa” because of its bottling operations.
At the end of day 2, riders will find themselves crashing in the town of Carroll, home to 10,000 Iowans. Swan Lake State Park will offer riders good camping and a new city aquatic center will give riders a chance to cool down after their long day of biking.
The 3rd overnight visit for riders happens in Boone, population almost 13,000. Boone’s most popular attraction is the “Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad” which offers bikers a chance to sit and relax, instead of pedaling. Boone is also home to the famous Kate Shelley Bridge. The country’s longest and highest double track railroad bridge.
Marking the halfway point is the town of Altoona, home to 13,000 people. After riders finish the day, they’ll have the opportunity to bet on some horse racing,play some poker or take a chance at the slot machines at Prairie Meadows. Or if they prefer, they can take in some excitement and cool down at Adventureland Amusement Park which is now home to Adventure Bay, a wonderful family-friendly water park.
Next up is Grinnell, population 9,000. When riders visit Grinnell they’ll have a chance to visit the new swimming pool, try a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, or visit Grinnell College, Iowa’s Ivy-League-esque college.
The last overnight stop before hitting Davenport is the city of Coralville, the biggest overnight town with 17,000 citizens. Riders can visit the popular CoralRidge Mall and indulge in some shopping, eating and even ice skating if they choose.
And of course, it all ends with the tire dip in the Mississippi River in the city of Davenport. A couple of events make this an extra special end of the week city. As RAGBRAI rolls into town, the Quad Cities Times annual Bix7 Road Race, an international long distance road race, will be finishing up. This gives both runners and bikers a chance to celebrate their amazing accomplishments and enjoy their successes together.
And if you haven’t heard yet, Tour de France multi-champion Lance Armstrong will again take part in RAGBRAI. According to a Des Moines Register article, he will most likely join the Live Strong team on the Tuesday/Wednesday or Wednesday/Thursday leg of the ride.
For a full list of all the towns bikers will be pedaling through check out the list on RAGBRAI’s website.
And if you’re looking for a bit of history about the big bike ride, check out a previous post we wrote here.