The route is out for the 48th edition of RAGBRAI as officials try to turn the page from one of the most challenging spells ever for the feel-good bicycle ride started by two journalists in 1973.
The west-to-east route will traverse the northern tier of Iowa from Le Mars on July 19 to Clinton seven days later.
A new leadership team announced the eight overnight towns that will anchor the weeklong cross-state trek during a route announcement party Saturday night in Des Moines. The Des Moines Register puts on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
The route is 60.1 miles from Le Mars to Storm Lake on day one, 72.6 miles to Fort Dodge on day two, 51.9 miles to Iowa Falls on day three, 72 miles to Waterloo on day four, 85.1 miles to Anamosa on day five, 43.3 miles to Maquoketa on day six, and 35.3 miles to the Mississippi River in Clinton on day seven.
The route clocks in at 420.3 miles with 12,306 feet of climb. That makes it the sixth-shortest yet 29th-hardest in terms of feet of climb.
“Bicyclists should plan spring training rides with Iowa hills in mind,” the RAGBRAI website advised.
The announcement comes months after 16-year director T.J. Juskiewicz and his staff unexpectedly resigned in October and launched a competing event called Iowa’s Ride.
The split put RAGBRAI 2020 in doubt and flustered cycling fans across the state and beyond who plan annual vacations around the quirky Iowa tradition.
Adding to the turmoil, RAGBRAI faced criticism that it was misleading Iowans about philanthropic promises and leaving small Iowa communities to absorb the risk of hosting the massive event while the organization raked in profits.
RAGBRAI issued a mea culpa, vowing to contribute more than $300,000 in 2020 and ramp annual giving up to $1 million annually within five years.
RAGBRAI will increase support to each of the eight overnight towns from $8,500 in the past to $15,000, cover costs of a stage for entertainment, plus donate a minimum $15,000 to local charities. Meeting towns, which have not yet been announced, are expected to receive $10,000.
“I am looking forward to the route,” said Josh Schamberger, Think Iowa City president and an avid RAGBRAI participant who challenged RAGBRAI on its support of towns. “I can’t remember the last time we were in Maquoketa, so that will be cool. Some easy flat days it appears, too. That’s always fun.”
RAGBRAI’s changes are “a very big step in the right direction and makes it very equitable for years to come,” Schamberger said.
For those looking for two weeks of cycling, the inaugural Iowa’s Ride, scheduled for July 12-18, will go east-to-west from Dubuque to Rock Rapids with overnight stops in Monticello, Vinton, Eldora, Clarion, Emmetsburg and Sheldon. Registration information is available at IowasRide.com.
Riders can register for weeklong RAGBRAI passes for $175 through April 1, and daily passes for $30 per day through June 1. A more detailed route with a full list of pass through towns is expected to be released in March. More information is available at ragbrai.com/registration.
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The 2020 ride honors longtime RAGBRAI director James “Greenie” Green, who died in June at age 79.
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