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RAGBRAI 47 comes with a 'twist' in a southerly Iowa route

Ben Roberts/Freelance

RAGBRAI participants make their way out of Iowa City on July 28, 2018, the final day of last year’s bike ride.
Ben Roberts/Freelance RAGBRAI participants make their way out of Iowa City on July 28, 2018, the final day of last year’s bike ride.

RAGBRAI 47 will cross southern Iowa in what is being billed as the eighth-easiest route in its history, ride organizers revealed Saturday.

This year’s ride includes a twist in that riders will reach the Mississippi River in Burlington on the sixth day of the seven-day ride and will spend the seventh day riding along the river to Keokuk. Traditionally, reaching the river has marked the end of what has been a river-to-river ride.

“Just when you thought you had it figured out,” RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz said in announcing the towns at a route announcement party in Des Moines.

He added shortly after, “To do Burlington and then to add Keokuk is a neat little twist we are going to try out … I think people are going to like it.”

RAGBRAI will start in western Iowa on July 21 in Council Bluffs, followed by overnight stops in Atlantic, Winterset, Indianola, Centerville, Fairfield and Burlington before ending July 27 in Keokuk.

The full route with all the pass-through towns is expected to be announced in March.

This year’s edition is 427 miles and 14,735 feet of climb, making it the sixth-shortest and eighth-flattest route in history, he said.

The shortest is day No. 3 from Winterset to Indianola, south of Des Moines. Day No. 4 is the longest at 78 miles from Indianola to Centerville.

The smallest overnight town is Winterset with 5,190 people, and the largest is Council Bluffs with 62,316.

RAGBRAI — short for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa — attracts more than 10,000 people a day from around the world to some of Iowa smallest communities. It is one of the state’s top tourist attractions. The ride has a loyal following of people who return year after year.

Riders often camp or stay with friends in each of the overnight towns, which celebrate their history and host live music, food and drinks on the day the ride comes through.

“Great route,” said Josh Schamberger, a RAGBRAI fan and president of Think Iowa City, which has helped bring RAGBRAI to Johnson County several times. He attended the announcement event.

“The double river finish is a pretty cool new twist. I think that will be the part I’m most looking forward to — a long ride along the Mississippi.”

Last year, RAGBRAI trekked 428 miles across the middle section of the state, including the first overnight stop in Iowa City in 40 years, and the year before had a 411-mile northerly route.

This year RAGBRAI is hosting three training rides: a Pigtails Ride on May 18 in Ankeny, the Bacoon Ride on June 15 in Waukee and Big Rove ride on June 29 in Iowa City.

Juskiewicz urged people to “go out there and get some training miles.”

“This is going to be a special route,” he said.

• Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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