The Great Iowa Bike Ride

Have you heard about RAGBRAI? Unless you live in Iowa or are an avid bicyclist, chances are that you have not. But, if this strangely named event piques your interest, then keep reading to learn all about it.

Although the word “RAGBRAI” may seem odd, it is actually an acronym that stands for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This annual event, which is organized by the Des Moines Register, sends avid bicyclists across the state starting in the west and moving eastward. The event is not competitive, so it attracts numerous recreational bikers not only from across the United States, but internationally as well. The first RAGBRAI race was conducted in 1973 and has grown to be the largest event of its kind in the world.

The RAGBRAI ride takes seven days to complete. It begins in a designated town on the eastern border of Iowa. It stops in various cities throughout the state and then ends in another designated town on the state’s western border. The ride takes place during the end of July. It starts on the second to last Sunday of the month and then concludes on the last Sunday of the month. The earliest starting date is July 19 and the latest is July 25.

The length of the ride averages 467.925 miles, with an average daily distance of 67.09 miles between host communities. Each year, eight different “host communities” are chosen. These communities signify the beginning and end of the race as well as six overnight stops. Over the years, there have been host communities in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. Fourteen different cities have acted as starting points, 12 have served as the finish line, and 105 cities have acted as host communities.

RAGBRAI also holds a lottery to choose 8,500 people to participate in the ride. The lottery accepts entries between November 15 and April 1 every year. People interesting in entering the lottery can fill out the form on the RAGBRAI website and either submit it online or print it out and mail it to the Des Moines Register. There are also passes available for the first 1,500 day riders. Iowa bicycle clubs and charters, teams, and other groups can get passes for their members. Non-registered riders can also participate. In fact, they often outnumber the registered riders.

This annual event continues to grow in popularity every year. People from all over the world look forward to it, and flock to Iowa just to hit the road on their bikes and visit the beautiful Iowa countryside. RAGBRAI is truly one more event that makes Iowa spectacular.