Ride organizers announced that for the first time since 2012, Anamosa will play host to the riders of RAGBRAI July 23.
The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa will run from July 19-25, starting in Le Mars and ending in Clinton. RAGBRAI was founded in 1973 by two Des Moines Register columnists, Karras and Donald Kaul, the latter of whom died in 2018 during the week of RAGBRAI.
The inclusion is the fourth overall for Anamosa and its first since 2012. When deciding on Anamosa, RAGBRAI Director Dieter Drake said geography played a role in the selection, as they wanted to get to Clinton, but that it wasn’t the only reason.
“Anamosa has a great small-town feel,” he said, similar to the small farming community where he grew up in upstate New York. “It felt like home, honestly, and I felt like Anamosa would be a great addition.”
Drake has only been on board since December, following a split last fall where the previous race directors left RAGBRAI to for their own Iowa Ride, which will also pass through Jones County this year. Drake said he’s had great support from communities all over Iowa, including Anamosa. Drake said officials were very quick to respond to his queries.
The regularity of the questions is what helped clue LeeAnna Boone, executive director at the Anamosa Area Chamber of Commerce, into the fact that Anamosa could be on the route this year. She filled out the packet, along with representatives from more than 200 towns across the state, to be a host city for the route. She had done the previous three years as well but had never had the volume of contact that she had this time around.
With that in mind, Boone attended the expo ahead of the announcement party for the first time, alongside her husband, and said, despite her suspicions, it was a nervous wait.
“Until you actually hear it, you’re not quite sure. So, it was a relief to hear Anamosa,” Boone said.
Other overnight stops will include Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Waterloo and Maquoketa.
The ride is the 6th shortest in the events history, but the ride leading to Anamosa is the toughest of the ride, according to a press release about the route.
“The most difficult day will be the fifth, which takes bicyclists on an 85-mile, 3,078-feet-of-climb trek from Waterloo to Anamosa.”
That day will also include the Karras Loop, an add-on route that pushes Thursday’s total mileage over 100. It’s named for ride co-founder John Karras, who was in attendance at the route announcement Jan. 25.
“That day is going to be an epic long day,” Drake said. “I think we’ll deliver 10,000 thirsty and hungry riders to Anamosa that afternoon.”
After Anamosa, riders will roll into Maquoketa and Clinton, which “will be comparatively easy, having just 43 miles and 1,650 feet of climb and 35 miles and 1,260 feet of climb, respectively,” the release said.
The full route, including pass-through towns and vehicle directions, is expected to be released in March.
Since the announcement was made, Boone has been going through the guidebook and beginning to assemble the necessary committees, which will begin meeting next week.
“People are excited about this…they’re willing to help,” she said. “A lot of people that I’ve talked to were involved in the last one, so they have ideas about what worked, what didn’t work.”