RAGBRAI is a bicycle ride, not a race. It started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state of Iowa by two Des Moines Register columnists who invited a few friends along. RAGBRAI is planned and coordinated by The Des Moines Register, a year-round process that begins as soon as that year’s ride is over.
“Each year we pick eight new towns to serve as ‘host’ communities for the overnight stays,” said T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI director. “It’s a different route every year and we have covered every nook and cranny of the state, from the smallest towns to some of the largest.”
Juskiewicz continued, “We announce the route the end of January and then meet with the towns over the course of the next six months. The mayor or chamber of each town selects key leaders in the community to serve on a committee, anywhere from 40-50 people, and I meet with them every other week. In most towns we end up with 500-800 volunteers.”
The RAGBRAI route averages 468 miles and is not necessarily flat. It begins somewhere along Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and ends along the eastern border on the Mississippi River.
In addition to the overnight communities, Juskiewicz mentioned that cyclists will make stops about every 10 miles in towns between the overnight stays. “There are events all day, every day,” said Juskiewicz. “From beer gardens and bands to kids activities, the approximately 40 towns that we ride through offer a place to stop and eat, enjoy various activities and even historical sites.”
For many of the host communities, and the towns in between, this is the largest event many of them will ever have, providing a major economic boost to every church, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, 4-H club, VFW post, etc. that it passes. “We don’t have those large corporate sponsors,” said Juskiewicz. “The people of these communities make this event happen.”
This unique event offers a different way of living for a week, disconnecting from your mobile devices and enjoying a slice of pie from the local church ladies. “This is the people’s event of Iowa, the fabric of our state,” said Juskiewicz.
Interested in participating in this amazing bike ride across Iowa? You better prepare yourself as RAGBRAI likely will be one of the most physically difficult things that you’ve ever attempted. While you won’t be able to participate in the 2014 ride, you can plan now for 2015. Visit the RAGBRAI site, www.ragbrai.com, where you’ll find a wealth of information to get you started.
The 2014 Route
Day 1: Rock Valley to Okoboji – 69 miles
Day 2: Okoboji to Emmetsburg – 41 miles
Day 3: Emmetsburg to Forest City – 73 miles
Day 4: Forest City to Mason City – 36 miles
Day 4: Mason City to Waverly – 63 miles
Day 5: Waverly to Independence – 68 miles
Day 6: Independence to Guttenberg – 68 miles