The return of Century Day, a 100-mile walk, will be the highlight of the RAGBRAI XLIX route on a journey dedicated to the late co-founder John Karras.
The Register’s Annual Great Iowa Bike Ride announced Friday the top cities on the route for its 2022 edition, which will take place July 24-30, at a Friday celebration at the Iowa Events Center. .
Marking its 49th year, the journey will begin at Sergeant Bluff on the Missouri River and end 430 miles away in Lansing on the Mississippi. There will be 11,900 feet of ascent over the seven days of the trip.
Traveling from west to east, riders will spend the night in Ida Grove, Pocahontas, Emmetsburg, Mason City, Charles City and West Union.
Plus:What to know about the towns in RAGBRAI 2022, from Sergeant Bluff to Lansing
For the first time since 1985, riders will have to grit their teeth and ride 100 miles on Day 4 from Emmetsburg to Mason City, or potentially endure bulldozing from tougher peers if they end their day as a rider in one of the SAG (support) From the trip. and tackle) wagons.
Karras, a longtime editor and columnist for the Des Moines Register, died in November at age 91. He launched RAGBRAI in 1973 with columnist Donald Kaul, who preceded him in death in 2018, and until 1985, a day trip was at least 100 miles long. .
The following year, after what Karras wrote in a column was “the crying, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth” from riders unhappy with the change, RAGBRAI offered an optional extra mileage route for those who wanted to log at least 100 miles. It later became known as the Karras Loop, and Karras would usually stand somewhere along the way to dole out patches to hardy cyclists. In 2021, Karras Loop added 30 miles to the day trip, bringing the total to approximately 111.
Plus:RAGBRAI co-founder John Karras dies at 91, leaving a national impact on cycling
New RAGBRAI director Matt Phippen, who started earlier this month after this year’s route was set, said he expects there will be plenty of riders this year who will jump in before covering the full 100 miles on day 4.
“We know we’re probably going to have a lot of flab that day,” Phippen said. “But it’s a tribute to Karras. There are people who want to bring that back.”
For those who like alternatives, the optional full-day gravel route, introduced last year under the direction of former director Dieter Drake, a veteran gravel racer, will return. This year’s gravel ride will be on Day 3 between the corn and soybean fields between Pocahontas and Emmetsburg, criss-crossed by unpaved roads from farm to market.
Drake planned most of the route before being promoted in mid-January to senior director of cycling operations at Ventures Endurance, which runs RAGBRAI and cycling and other active sporting events across the country. It is a division of Gannett Co., which owns RAGBRAI and the Des Moines Register.
But there are still plenty of decisions for Phippen to make. Many of them will be revealed in March, when the meeting cities and exact routes are announced.
“Once I figured out the towns overnight, I bought a map, put a big piece of plexiglass on it, and started plotting routes just based on where I thought it would be cool to go,” said the former manager of the commodity chain. Scheels sneakers. , long-time RAGBRAI volunteer and rider.
Representatives from the towns on the route, celebrating their selection at Friday night’s announcement party, said they will do everything they can to live up to Phippen’s expectations.
Ian Zahren, a teacher in Lansing and chairman of its RAGBRAI organizing committee, said that while the city may be small, with just 968 residents, it has a lot to offer as a gateway to Iowa’s Driftless Area, a glacier-free region of steep hills and deep valleys, some with clear trout streams.
“Any time you have a city that has fewer than 1,000 people, there are always going to be challenges,” Zahren said. “But our city is driven by ecotourism.”
Jared Bogue, an Ida Grove City Council member who sits on the city’s RAGBRAI committee, said residents will come together to figure out how to help cyclists enjoy the city’s unique castle-themed architecture, which is being announced. herself as CastleTown. , USA
Mason City wowed crowds when it last played host to RAGBRAI in 2014 with a concert by Poison frontman Bret Michaels. This time, City Manager Aaron Burnett joked, he’ll try to top that with Mason City native Meredith Willson’s Hugh Jackman, star of the Broadway revival of “Music Man.”
And Pocahontas Mayor Jada Hallberg promised that even with nearly six months to plan a big reception for bikers, “we’re going to start working next week.”
A one-week registration for RAGBRAI XLIX costs $175 and is still open at ragbrai.com. Single-day registration is also open and costs $35. RAGBRAI for 2022 eliminated its lottery system and did check-in on a first-come, first-served basis, and so far registration has increased compared to last year, when travel returned from a 2020 pandemic postponement, Phippen said.
“We saw it last year with the trip,” he said. “People want to come back. They want to be a part of something big.”
Phippen, who has begun looking for secondary roads for the route, cautioned that the final mileage and ascent figures will likely change as he determines which roads the tour will take.
“I want to find those roads that are less traveled that there is something good on that road,” he said.
Waiting for the golden wedding
Had the COVID-19 pandemic not forced the 2020 race to be postponed, 2022 would have marked RAGBRAI’s 50th year. Organizers have made no secret of planning big festivities to celebrate the milestone, and Phippen offered a glimpse of what next year’s route could hold.
Many cyclists have speculated that the 50th edition could retrace the original route of the 1973 Great Six-Day Bike Trip from Sioux City to Davenport. But the 2018 route covered much of that route, stopping in Ames, Iowa City and Davenport and spending the night in Newton, which was a through town on the original route.
Fort Dodge was also an original night town and served as such in 2021.
“I wouldn’t have any expectation that it would be anywhere near the (original) route,” Phippen said of RAGBRAI L.
But Des Moines, the fourth overnight city in 1973, hasn’t been an overnight stop since 2013. Will the capital city, the state’s largest, be on the route?
Phippen wouldn’t say. But he didn’t exactly throw cold water on the idea, saying the trip is likely to visit “larger communities that have shown the ability to do great work.”
“It’s 50 years,” he said. “It’s a true celebration of the last 50 years.”
Philip Joens covers RAGBRAI and breaking news for the Registry. He has assembled parts of 16 RAGBRAIs and has completed the river-to-river walk five times. He can be reached at 515-443-3347 at [email protected] or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism