A trip to RAGBRAI
RAGBRAI, a Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. Ragbrai is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world and draws about 25,000 riders. Cyclists start the ride on the banks of the Missouri River and end when they dip their wheels into the waters of the Mississippi. Total mileage is about 500 miles, so riders are traveling about 70 to 75 miles a day. That's a long haul, but the cyclists are fed well, and this keeps them moving. Every few miles or so, they pass through a small Iowa town, where churches, restaurants and non profit groups line the streets to tempt bikers with homemade pies, bacon wrapped corn on the cob and pork chops. It's rumored to be the only bike ride where you actually gain weight.
And then there's the famous cornfield bathrooms. There are lots of cornfields in Iowa, so if you've got to go, you'll have lots of choices. It is suggested you walk back a few rows. One farmer even hung signs indicating Boy's or Girls facilities. The whole state seems to embrace these yearly visitors, even the ones using their cornfields as a restroom. And there's a good reason for that. It's estimated that direct spending in Iowa by Ragbraiers on food, lodging and other goods is $2.4 million per day. Who said those skinny bikers don't spend money?
Lisa McClary and I attended the opening day of Ragbrai, this year in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Our purpose was to let these folks know about the Katy Trail and of course Boonville. We were amazed at how many cyclists we met, who said, "The Katy Trail is on my bucket list". These are die hard riders. They're looking for places to ride and we gave away hundreds of maps and Boonville brochures. Cyclists are an adventurous bunch, but they do like to have trail information and a contact for lodging, dining and shuttles. Ragbrai is only once a year, the Katy Trail and Boonville- we're open all year. Play Local, Shop Local and Go Boonville!