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The first and biggest bike ride is RAGBRAI!

RAGBRAI, The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state.  RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world.

In the beginning, no one imagined that RAGBRAI would become the Iowa tradition it is now.  We at The Des Moines Register thank all the riders who have joined us over the years.  We especially wish to thank the thousands and thousands of volunteers in the towns we’ve visited along the way for their tireless work to show RAGBRAI riders the hospitality that has made our ride world famous. This rolling celebration of Iowa attracts participants from all 50 states and many foreign countries.  It has covered thousands of miles through the years, and hundreds of thousands of riders have hopped in the saddle to pedal part of those miles.

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.  It is held the last full week in July.  RAGBRAI is planned and coordinated by The Des Moines Register, and riders who participate in RAGBRAI understand that they do so at their own risk.

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.  We change the route each year and announce the overnight towns in late January in The Des Moines Register. Eight Iowa communities along the RAGBRAI route serve as “host” communities for overnight stays. RAGBRAI is a guest in these communities and we ask our riders to behave as such.

The people of Iowa truly make RAGBRAI the special event that it is by opening up their towns and communities to participants. We hope you can enjoy this Iowa hospitality and join us for a memorable trip across the state.

The event is seven days of riding with an average of 67 miles per day through the Iowa countryside. You may enter as a rider or a non-rider. Anyone not riding a bicycle (a support vehicle driver, family members, or friends riding in a vehicle) must enter as a non-rider. A week-long rider fee is $150; a week-long non-rider fee is $35. A vehicle permit is $35. See section on Vehicle Pass Instructions for Support Vehicle Drivers.

When the overnight and lunch stop  towns are announced, eight towns go into hysteria.  Many, if not most towns are smaller than the number of riders that will be riding into the towns.  Streets are littered with bikes in the lunch stop towns.  Money is coming into town.  Money will be rolling across Iowa.  Food is the number one focus.  Years earlier, my home town of Osceola, Iowa, was an overnight stop town.  The Christian Church placed my mother in charge of serving dinner.  She worried and planned this event every day  (seven months) until it actually happened.  I came to visit on that day.  We had stuff going on in the town square park.  Osceola hosted the Bicycle Museum of Chicago where I got to see a Hopalong Cassidy bike fully restored.  When the first riders started coming into town, I decided to be the person that stood outdoors and yelled at the riders announcing the great church dinner at the Christian Church.  That was so much fun.  The riders stayed at the Fair Grounds and used the high school facility for showers.  It was a huge event and Osceola benefited greatly.

July 19-25, 1992
For the fourth time in RAGBRAI history Glenwood was the setting when the 1992 ride began on July 19. The riders pedaled from Glenwood to Shenandoah for their second visit, then on to first-time overnight hosts, the tiny towns of Bedford (to this point the smallest town on RAGBRAI) and Osceola, both of which did a marvelous job of hosting the ride. After an exhausting ride in rain and headwinds when the riders left Osceola, they entered ‘ Emerald City,’ Des Moines’ nickname and theme during its second time as host of the ride. After bidding farewell to Toto, Dorothy and the Scarecrow, riders pedaled on to Oskaloosa for their second visit there, stayed in Mt. Pleasant (a town that hosts Threshers and Old Settlers Day and is used to crowds) and ended in Keokuk (for the second time) on July 25.

After Lance Armstrong retired from his bike racing days, many years he participated in RAGBRAI.

Fast forward.  I believe I am ready for my own ride across RAGBRAI!  I have rode 1400 training miles to prepare.

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