Iowa City will be an overnight stop for RAGBRAI 2018

Bicyclists participate in RAGBRAI 2012. — photo by Laurie Chipps

The route for RAGBRAI XLVI was announced on Saturday night, and for the first time in 42 years, Iowa City will be one of the annual cross-state bike ride’s overnight stops. The last time RAGBRAI stopped in Iowa City was 1976.

RAGBRAI 2018 will start, as always, at the Missouri River, with the first overnight stop in Onawa in Monona County on July 22. Riders will arrive in Iowa City on Friday, July 27, and depart to the ride’s final destination, Davenport, the next day. Between Onawa and Iowa City, the riders will spend the night in Denison, Jefferson, Ames, Newton and Sigourney.

Iowa City currently ranks last among the state’s five largest cities in the number of times it has hosted RAGBRAI. After this year’s stop, it will be tied with Cedar Rapids, which hosted overnight stops in 1990 and 2012. Iowa City’s much smaller neighbor Coralville has hosted overnights five times, most recently in 2015. Only eight cities in Iowa have hosted more overnight stops than Coralville in the 46 year history of RAGBRAI.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa started in 1973, when two writers for the Des Moines Register, John Karras and Donald Kaul, invited the public to join them on a six-day bicycle ride across the state, from the Missouri River to the Mississippi. The following year the ride expanded to its current length of seven days, and Bill Gilbert, a writer from Sports Illustrated joined in. Gilbert wrote an article praising the relaxed and friendly cross-state ride, bringing international attention to the event.

The first year, only 119 riders pedaled the entire west-to-east route, but RAGBRAI has become so popular that organizers have had to impose a limit on the number of participants to maintain order and safety. Only 8,500 weeklong riders are allowed, and a computer selects those riders in a lottery system designed to give every applicant a chance at participating.

The lottery results will be posted online on May 1. Information on the registration process can be found on the RAGBRAI website.

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