By Mike Whittlesey
In case you haven’t heard, RAGBRAI will be rolling through La Porte City on Thursday, July 23. As excitement begins to build, La Porte City’s participation in the event is being billed as RIDE LPC 7-23.
This year marks the 42nd annual bike ride across the state of Iowa. RAGBRAI was conceived in 1973 by a Des Moines Register editor, John Karras, and columnist, Donald Kaul. Kaul, who lived in Washington, D.C. at the time, agreed to a week-long bike ride across the state to see and write about the people and places of Iowa if Karras, an avid cyclist himself, would join him. Records indicate that a total of 114 riders completed that inaugural ride. By 1983, the last time the RAGBRAI route included La Porte City as a pass-through community, the event had mushroomed to include more than 6,500 riders.
In the coming weeks, we will begin to formulate a plan to welcome thousands of bike riders to our community in what will be a truly unique opportunity to show visitors what makes La Porte City a special place to live. While preparations to welcome thousands of visitors to our community will, no doubt, entail a lot of work, the effort is not unprecedented. Each summer, thousands follow the various trails to La Porte City for the enjoyment of the Festival of Trails Celebration in June.
Thanks to the growth of RAGBRAI, more than 40 years of experience have been condensed into the pages of a handbook that is distributed to pass-through communities along the route. Among the many proven strategies other host communities have found successful over the years are some interesting facts about the ride. Consider:
More than 225 communities are on a waiting list to serve as RAGBRAI hosts.
RAGBRAI limits the number of full-week riders to 8,500.
Each day on the route, RAGBRAI allows for an additional 1,500 single-day riders.
Approximately 3,000 non-riders in support vehicles will also participate in the event.
More than 60% of RAGBRAI participants will come from outside the state of Iowa.
On March 28, members of a group from La Porte City will join other 2015 pass-through communities throughout the state for a meeting with RAGBRAI officials in Webster City. At that time, important information about the ride will be communicated to each host community, with a special emphasis placed on the safety and well-being of the bicycle riders, as well as those who greet them along the way.
The City has already received numerous inquiries from individuals and organizations wanting to help with the plans to welcome RAGBRAI to La Porte City. Certainly, a large number of volunteers will be needed (and appreciated).
The Progress Review is pleased to join the effort to help facilitate communications for the event. Information related to RAGBRAI’s visit on July 23 can be found online at www.theprogressreview/RAGBRAI and on La Porte City’s Facebook page devoted to all things RAGBRAI: www.facebook.com/ridelpc723. E-mail related to RAGBRAI’s visit to La Porte City can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.