Mini Iowa Criss-cross: My 8 day RAGBRAI/Iowa's Ride combo LOOP

It’s great that the start/finish towns are close enough to allow a full 2 week ride back & forth. Riders with the time, freedom and inclination to do both rides are lucky, and they should be thrilled. Riders WIN…and I think both rides will benefit. Great for lots of small Iowa towns, and fantastic for Iowa cycling in general, so hopefully the animosity will start to fade away.

For those who want to experience the vibe of the two different rides, plus the easy logistics of starting & ending in the same general place, but don’t have the time to commit to 2 weeks (this is ME), this route actually allows that as well. Iowa Falls (RAGBRAI) and Eldora (Iowa’s Ride) are midweek overnight towns that happen to be only 18 miles apart. This has become my long awaited IOWA LOOP RIDE! Goes something like this.

My Day 1: Tuesday 7/14. Drive to Eldora, pitch my tent, leave my gear. Then drive to Iowa Falls and park my car (arranged in advance). Ride the short route back to Eldora and join the Iowa’s Ride festivities – 18.7 miles, 774 feet of climb.

My Day 2: Wednesday 7/15. Ride Iowa’s Ride Day 4 from Eldora to Clarion – 64 miles, 1,471 feet of climb.

My Day 3: Thursday 7/16. Ride Iowa’s Ride Day 5 from Clarion to Emmitsburg – 75 miles, 999 feet of climb.

My Day 4: Friday 7/17. Ride Iowa’s Ride Day 6 from Emmitsburg to Sheldon – 78 miles, 1,730 feet of climb.

My Day 5: Saturday 7/18. Depart Iowa’s Ride and ride from Sheldon to Le Mars. 34.2 miles, 965 feet of climb.

My Day 6: Sunday 7/19. Ride RAGBRAI Day 1 from Le Mars to Storm Lake – 60.1 miles, 2373 feet of climb.

My Day 7: Monday 7/20. Ride RAGBRAI Day 2 from Storm Lake to Fort Dodge – 72.6 miles, 1153 feet of climb.

My Day 8: Tuesday 7/21. Ride RAGBRAI Day 3 from Fort Dodge to Iowa Falls – 51.9 miles, 854 feet of climb. I’m back at my car at this point. I can either spend the night and stick around for the fun, or I have the option to just load up my car and head home.

There you have it. A true RAGBRAI Iowa’s Ride hybrid loop ride. 3 full days on each ride, and a 2 days where I will deviate and create my own route. Two completely different ride vibes, 8 days of riding, 456 miles, 10,319 feet of climb, 6 days of PTO, a gravel loop if I choose, and zero cross-state transportation logistics. The only hitch in the plan I can see right now is getting my gear from Sheldon to Le Mars. All other days I can use the baggage truck. I will need to pack light (I say that every year) and rig up a racking system so I can be a bagger for that short segment. Otherwise, it seems like a workable plan.

Anyone else considering doing something similar?

2 Replies

DenBiker, February 5, 2020 at 3:08 pm

I really like your “Great Iowa Loop”. Considering doing the same.

From what I see on the Forum it looks like several will be making the Sheldon – Le Mars trek. I’m all for joining forces and see if we can collectively figure out the baggage transfer issue.


Curt Parks, February 5, 2020 at 8:37 pm

I am going to do this same loop, with another variation. Since I live in Spencer, I am planning to ride home from Emmetsburg, and skip both Sheldon and Rock Rapids. My wife is going to pick up my gear in Emmetsburg, and then transport me to Lemars Saturday morning. It is possible that we could transport some gear from Sheldon to Lemars, but would be limited on space (Equinox).


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