The small start and end towns like this year are nice. Logistically though a short list of start & end towns that are bigger would help logistics since RAGBRAI is so large. Those towns might even develop some semi-permanent infrastructure to support RAGBRAI if they were in a small rotation.
Start towns big enough: Council Bluffs and Sioux City.
End towns big enough: Dubuque, Bettendorf/Davenport, and Burlington.
All have good transportation options (airport access, 1 way rental cars) and enough space for charter groups to stage in and out of.
Sounds logical but would end much of the “mystique” surrounding much of the selection process which everyone anticipates each year. Granted, the overnight towns would still be up for grabs. But you would lose the possibility of a some far southwest to far northeast routes etc. for which I keep hoping, not to mention the unicorn route (i.e., east to west).
I think the logistics of the end town are more important. I thought Rock Valley did a terrific job hosting as the start town. Maybe I’m missing something here. Everyone trying to get out of the end town at roughly the same time is a problem. Gutenberg is a great and scenic town to ride into but getting packed and on your way is a problem. Unless you decide to hang out and leave the next day. However, at the end of seven days on the road most folks want to get the heck out of Dodge and get home. I really enjoyed that there were no “big” cities in this year’s mix but we pay a price at the end due to limited access of the small towns on the Mississippi.
Moots and Pdiddly – It would take some very “straight” routes to do that – no more jumping north and south during the week (if you are faced with an “along the river” route on the last day) since you would be crossing the state in five days, not six. Now, that would take away some of my reasons for doing an east to west route as, hopefully, some towns along the Mississippi would get more revenue by being an overnight town. Still – I have to believe the large eastern town listed above as your “go to” ending towns would still be getting the raw end of the deal. East to West every four years. Nothing wrong with that.