RAGBRAI announces route for 50th anniversary ride this summer

A RAGBRAI XLVI participant rides through Iowa City, an overnight stop in 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Fifty years ago, the first RAGBRAI crossed the state from west to east, starting in Sioux City and finishing in Davenport. RAGBRAI’s golden anniversary route will begin and end in those same cities, organizers announced on Saturday night.

The overnight towns for the weeklong ride from the Missouri to the Mississippi will be:

• Sioux City

• Storm Lake

• Carroll

• Ames

• Des Moines

• Tama-Toldeo

• Coralville

• Davenport

Three days will have rides of 80 miles or more, with the longest being the 88-mile stretch between Carroll and Ames. The routes in and out of Des Moines feature the easiest and steepest climbs. On the 50 miles between the starting point in Ames and the end of route in Des Moines, cyclists will only climb 1,216 feet. But on the next day, they will climb 3,654 feet as they cycle the 82 miles to Tama-Toledo.

This is the sixth-longest route in RAGBRAI history, covering 500 miles. A total climb of 16,549 feet makes it the sixth-steepest.

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 River. 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.

Over the last 50 years, RAGBRAI has grown into “an epic eight-day rolling festival of bicycles, music, food, camaraderie, and community,” its site states. “It is the oldest, largest, and longest multi-day bicycle touring event in the world.”

RAGBRAI L will start at the Missouri River in Sioux City on July 23, and conclude when cyclists dip their wheels in the Mississippi at Davenport at the end of the week.