RAGBRAI Starting In Glenwood For 8th Time


RAGBRAI riders head east on Gaston Ave. after leaving Glenwood in 2016.

Map of RAGBRAI LI route and overnight towns.

The scene on Main Street in Malvern in July 2016 as RAGBRAI passed through town. Bikers walked their bicycles through the streets. View is looking south.

Glenwood has been selected to serve as the starting point for RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) for a record-tying eighth time. The much-anticipated announcement of the 2024 route was made Saturday night in Des Moines.

The nation’s largest and oldest cross-state bicycle ride will begin in Glenwood the weekend of July 20-21. Bicycle riders from around the world are expected to take part in this year’s 434-mile trek across southern Iowa. In addition to Glenwood, overnight stops are planned in Red Oak, Atlantic, Winterset, Knoxville, Ottumwa and Mount Pleasant. RAGBRAI LI will conclude on July 27 in Burlington.

Mills County Chamber Of Commerce Executive Director Jennie Davis was among a delegation from Mills County that attended Saturday night’s route announcement party. The group was ecstatic when Glenwood was announced as the starting point for the ride, she said.

“It was a fantastic reaction. Even if I expected it, we were all very excited and very thrilled,” Davis said.  “I’m excited for everyone to come back to Glenwood. Last time it was here was 2016. Glenwood has changed so much.

“I’m really excited to have people see those changes, showcase our community, support the local businesses and organizations that take this opportunity as a fundraiser.”

Davis said she was confident Glenwood would be chosen.

“I felt really confident. There were a lot of rumors and speculation that it was going to be a southern route, therefore I thought Glenwood had a really good shot,” she said. “When I did speak with the executive director with RAGBRAI, Matt Phippen, he knows that Glenwood has successfully pulled it off seven other times, so they thought that we’d be a good pick.”

Bicyclists who complete the route, will endure a total climb of 18,741 feet, making this year’s ride the hilliest in RAGBRAI history.

Glenwood previously served as the starting town for RAGBRAI in 1980, 1984, 1989, 1992, 2003, 2011 and 2016. Glenwood will join Sioux City as the only cities in Iowa that can boast of being the starting point for RAGBRAI eight times.

RAGBRAI participants will converge on Glenwood Saturday, July 20, with the ride officially beginning Sunday morning, July 21.

Opening ceremonies will likely take place Saturday evening in Glenwood.

Davis noted hosting the event is a massive undertaking and requires nearly six months  of preparation and the assistance of hundreds of volunteers.

“It’s going to take much of the community coming together. Last time, there were 400 or so volunteers and we hope to see the same amount,” she said. “I’d love to see a lot of volunteers from the past but also people who are newer to the community and have been waiting for an opportunity to get involved. We welcome them with open arms.”

The entire route, with the naming of “pass-through” towns will be made in February. With Red Oak being the first overnight stop, some other communities in Mills County will likely experience the ride as well. The Day 1 route between Glenwood and Red Oak will be 44 miles.

“I do hope we are able to showcase not only Glenwood, but the entire county and hope that there’s a positive economic impact on all of the communities,” Davis said.

Malvern, Mineola, Silver City, Henderson, Emerson and Tabor have served as “pass-through” towns on previous RAGBRAI routes through southwest Iowa.

Glenwood City Administrator Amber Farnan, who was also on hand for Saturday night’s route announcement, said the event will be a huge task, but she’s confident the city is up to the challenge.

“I think our biggest challenge will be organizing and making sure we have all the resources we need to make it a good event,” Farnan said. “And, finding volunteers. We’ll need as many volunteers as we can find.

“We’re excited. Bring on the bikes.”

By Monday morning, the chamber of commerce and city offices in Glenwood had already fielded numerous calls and emails from persons and organizations interested in being involved with the event. Davis said the best way for potential volunteers to reach out to the chamber office is by sending an email to director@livemillscounty.com.

Davis said additional information regarding the ride will be released in the coming weeks. She and other community leaders will be meeting with Phippen and other RAGBRAI officials for the first time on Monday at City Hall.

“From there, we’ll have a lot more understanding, information and guidance on our next steps,” Davis said.
 

The Opinion-Tribune

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