RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

Matt Phippen, ride director, route updates for RAGBRAI XLIX

  • 14 July, 2022
  • Anne Lawrie

My year has just flown by and I can’t believe our ride across this beautiful state is going to happen very shortly.  There are a couple of sayings that couldn’t be more accurate in my first year as the Ride Director for RAGBRAI.  “Time flies when you are having fun” and “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”  Eighteen trips across the state, countless miles on my truck, hotel room keys found in the washing machine, and committee members who have become family. This is the most hours I’ve put into a job but it is not work. I am playing bikes and I love everything about it. I am so excited to share RAGBRAI XLIX with you but in order for this year to truly be successful it has to be safe.  Out of the 462 miles, there are three concerns we need to discuss.


On Day 2, there is a small stretch between Ida Grove and Galva where we will cross HWY 20. We have spent a lot of time working with the Iowa State Patrol and the DOT on this intersection.  This is our plan to safely get riders across HWY 20 and control traffic.

Cyclists will be directed by the Iowa State Patrol to go directly across the highway into the west bound lane. West bound traffic will be closed to a one lane road that will have a stop light to control vehicle traffic. The State Patrol will operate the stop light, alternating between vehicles and bicycles until the route is closed or no more bicycles. There will be a strong visual presence between the State Patrol and electronic message boards from the DOT. The message boards will be placed a week prior to the ride alerting drivers of the bike traffic for Monday, July 25. It is important that you listen and follow the directions of the State Patrol to ensure your safety and the safety of others. A huge thank you to the State Patrol and the DOT for thinking of through every option and coming up with this plan to ensure safe and efficient passage across HWY 20 for the riders and vehicles on route this day.


((Construction site will be cleaned and only barricades will be present. Riders will walk their bikes down and the dirt road to meet back up with the paved route before riding Britt. Picture taken on 7/12/2022. )

There is a bridge out between Wesley and Hutchins that won’t be complete until after the ride.  The team that is working on this bridge has made a hard packed dirt road on the outside of the bridge that they have been using to get their machines back and forth.  The new dirt road will be the best option to get riders across and keep them off of Highway 18 (the only alternative).  This is my ask to all riders, get off your bike 20 feet prior to the bridge.  The county will have barricades set-up the will funnel riders across the dirt road and back onto the bicycle route.  Riders will then walk around the outside of the bridge and make their way to the other side.  This shouldn’t take much time and will be a much safer and faster option then riding on HWY 18 or adding miles to the century day. In the event of major rain that day, the county will lay down gravel to cover the wet ground.


Riding a century is a major accomplishment for any cyclist.  Riding a century to pay homage to John Karras makes it even more impactful.  The century route this year, was designed in a way to give riders attainable mileage and elevation between towns.

If you are into goal setting, “chunking” is a term we use a lot.  Today’s route has been chunked. If you chunk the route and make it to every community you will complete a century #4Karras and receive a Century Day Pass. The bonus is that Mason City is throwing you an awesome party that night.  Your ride experience that day is up to you but with the mileage being longer, you need to be smart.  You should have trained so you are ready to attack it.  The communities along day fours route are ready for you and are excited to be there to support your milestone.  The route opens at 6:00 am and will close an hour later at 7:00 pm.  Before leaving town make sure your water bottles are full and you have whatever you need in your jersey pockets to help energize and get you into that next community.  Always remember your “why”.  We are riding this century for John and this ride called RAGBRAI that he helped create for all of us.  We will have extra SAG on route.  If you get to a point you are unable to finish, turn your bike upside down and a SAG will be there to help.  At 86.7 miles you will be rewarded with you century patch and a fuel station sponsored by Soy Connection. It’s just one last stretch after that and your century is complete.

I can’t wait to meet as many of you as possible on this year’s route. With a little communication, planning, and cooperation from everyone this route should be everything you’ve come to expect from this great Iowa tradition. It is bittersweet thinking that this journey is almost over and we will say goodbye to RAGBRAI 49 and start the process all over again for 50. But until then, keep training and we will see you in 10 days!

Matt Phippen, ride director RAGBRAI





  1. Kevin James


    If I have one request for this year, can we please put an emphasis on water for the riders.

    The long range forecast is showing 95° + all week long and of course one day is 100+ miles. I understand the pass through towns should have water ready to refill water bottles, but I find that is not always the case and sometime hard to find. You can buy it of course and at $1 a bottle, which is not expensive, but I cringe knowing at all that single use plastic that will never find its way to a recycler. My suggestion is that every town we pass through should have a clear water station as you enter it and yes, I do understand the folks who sell the water would like it as you leave town.

    Thanks for listening….

  2. Altidude

    Great thought, Kevin James. RAGBRAI should make sure there is one of those PVC pipe water things available at least every 20 miles. If the temps are over 95F on the 100 mile day, each person will need at least a gallon of fluids, preferably more. People should force down at least a 20 oz bottle every hour. Some will be out for 12 hours or more.

  3. karenelsken

    Agree, having to buy bottled water and all the plastic associated with it is the ONLY negative thing I have to say about the Ragbrai experience.

  4. Will (Willard) Johnson

    The bottles normally get picked up and guess what, recycled, no pun.
    Available water from any source is fine by me. A buck or free no worries here. I have had plenty of free ice cold water at the end of driveways and dropped cash in the tip bucket, why not?

  5. SFC JKL 2

    Every town has a free water point. It’s usually on the way out of town, after you have been given the chance to purchase a beverage from a local group. After all, this is a fund raiser. Support the people who come out to support us.

  6. Danaragbrai

    Unfortunately recycling itself is mostly a farce created by the oil companies to encourage people to continue to use single use plastic containers. Disappointed to hear that Ragbrai doesn’t have lot’s of options for refilling your own water bottles without creating massive amounts of waste. I mean ???

  7. RagbraiSingerButticeJason

    Saying every town has a water station is simply not true. Or if it is true, they are sometimes so well hidden that few can find them. Also, I very much doubt that many of the plastic bottles make it to recycling. I can’t imagine anyone taking the time to separate them from the tons of other trash.

    To the original comment: Yes, absolutely, there should be a free water station in every town. This is especially important when the ISP comes through and won’t let riders buy water (yes, I’ve seen it). I know that’s a different issue entirely, but easy access to water is essential for a safe ride.

  8. LarWilbers

    How about some water trucks like the military uses. Maybe borrow a couple from the National Guard. Lots of ways to deploy.


    re: the plastic bottles……the water inside is COLD, and if it’s a hot day, you need cold water! Put out more recycling bins.

  10. JimCoonRapidsMN

    Thankfully, weather forecast has gotten better (except for a hot Saturday for the Expo), with normal temps in the 80’s for the week! Could get “bumpy” in the campground Saturday night with a low risk of severe weather possible.

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