On paper, RAGBRAI looks like a simple bike ride across the state of Iowa. In reality, it is much more.
RAGBRAI is an 8-day ride across the state, but it’s also music, food, and camaraderie. Its reputation has grown over the years into what organizers have labeled the oldest, largest, and longest multi-day bicycle touring event in the world.
Started in 1973, RAGBRAI’s economic impact is estimated at more than $25 million, according to a University of Northern Iowa report. About 15,000 riders are expected for the event.
Registration has started for the 2023 ride, which will take place July 22–29. Cost is $200 per rider during early registration, $225 during regular registration that begins March 1, and $250 during late registration, starting April 15. Registration will close May 15.
Participants can register for single days as well. Daily rides will range from 47 miles to 105 miles.
The RAGBRAI route changes yearly, and this year’s route will be announced on January 28. The 2022 route started in Sergeant Bluff on the Nebraska border and ended in Lansing in the northeast corner of the state along the Minnesota and Wisconsin border.
On the evenings of the rides, participants will camp in parks and on school grounds and community land in each town. In some cases, private housing will be made available at a fee to some riders.
Safety Comes First
For many riders, RAGBRAI is an annual event, and they know the ins and outs of the ride. For others, it will be a new experience. For those riders, officials have some advice.
“Concentrate first on learning how to ride safely and with endurance,” they recommend. “Ragbrai likely will be one of the most physically difficult things that you’ve ever attempted.”
Safety equipment like helmets, gloves, and other gear to protect riders’ bodies is strongly encouraged, as is the ability to stay alert and vigilant during the ride.
“The greatest threat to your well-being on the route is not cars or trucks but other cyclists,” officials said. “Many riders may be riding for the first time surrounded by thousands of other cyclists. And, while this circumstance promotes a certain euphoria, it also holds hidden dangers.”
Accidents and injuries have occurred when riders collide, hit a bump or rock in the road and spill, or other incidents that can pop up in a flash.
Another trap beginners fall into is failing to stay hydrated or nourished during the rides. It can impact riders immediately or the next day. Riders are reminded lots of food and drink are available along the routes.
Officials also recommend eating a breakfast or two every morning and carrying high-energy snacks and drinks on your bike.
Iowa officials and those in towns along the route are excited about the annual event.
“Any chance we are afforded the opportunity to increase the visibility and commerce in our downtowns and the surrounding area, we will rise to the occasion with excitement,” LaDrina Wilson, CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber, told OurQuadCities.com.