Cranksgiving, a cycling scavenger hunt that benefits local food banks, comes to Iowa City


Big Grove Brewery & Taproom, 1225 S Gilbert St — Saturday, Nov. 9 at noon

Jav Ducker/Little Village

Cranksgiving is coming to Iowa City for the first time on Saturday. For those who have never heard of Cranksgiving, it’s not a support group for people whose Thanksgiving involves talking to relatives who are political cranks. The event, which started in New York City in 1999 and has spread nationwide, is a combination bike race, scavenger hunt and food drive to benefit local nonprofits.

Cyclists are given a manifest listing specific items and the grocery store (or checkpoint) at which each item must be purchased. Organizers suggest participants bring “around $20 to buy food and/or other necessities.” Those items will be donated to the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank and Table to Table after the event.

This Saturday’s inaugural Iowa City Cranksgiving is being sponsored by Big Grove Brewery, Natural Grocers and World of Bikes. The ride starts and ends at the Iowa City Big Grove Brewery and Taproom, 1225 S Gilbert St.

“At noon, we’ll blow the starting whistle and it’ll be up to you to reach as many ‘checkpoints’ as possible and to grab the items off the list,” the event’s site explains.

The ride/scavenger hunt is supposed to conclude at 2:30 p.m., but organizers encourage riders to set their own comfortable pace. Participants just need to be back at Big Grove before 3 p.m., when the after-party starts. The party will feature an awards ceremony and a raffle.

Since the first Cranksgiving in 1999, it has grown into almost 100 independently organized events around the country. It was Nick Maddix’s idea to bring Cranksgiving to Iowa City.

“I enjoyed participating in the event in Cedar Falls, Iowa (they are doing their 11th event this year) and loved the chance to participate in a fun ‘race,’ while riding my bike, trying to find the items I needed and donating them to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank,” he told Little Village in an email.

Cedar Falls will be holding its own Cranksgiving again this year, as will Cedar Rapids (on Nov. 17), Clinton, West Burlington and Sioux City.

“Iowa City with all its bike culture/friendliness and environmentally-conscious mentality is a perfect fit for an event like Cranksgiving so I decided it was about time to start one here,” Maddix said.

Online registration for Cranksgiving is still available, but anyone who wants to participate can register in person at Big Grove starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

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