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Most of the passthough and overnight towns were great. In my opinion, Ackley was the best passthrough town by far (great organization, look, and local enthusiasm) and Dewitt was the best overnight town (same great organization, look, and enthusiasm). It was obvious those towns (as well as most of the other towns along the route) valued RAGBRAI and loved having the riders in their towns.
I was very disappointed in the setup and local interest in Waterloo though. It was as if Waterloo couldn’t care whether RAGBRAI was in town or not. No food or services within reasonable walking distance of Waterworks Park, long shuttle waits, no information on church dinners (other than the churches’ signs on the ride route), downtown was dirty and had little to offer outside the RAGBRAI compound, etc. If a few food trucks had been stationed at Waterworks Park, they could have sold out. There were probably 2000+ people camping in that huge park–definitely a HUGE missed opportunity.
The Mississippi dip site was a disappointment too. You had the beautiful river just a few hundred yards downstream and you chose to put the dip site in an algae-choked canal instead? I understand the canal site was probably safer but yuk, not a good first impression for people who’ve never seen the mighty Mississippi before.
The bikes I’ve heard being taken the most are those left unlocked outside a bar in an overnight town. Never heard of one being taken intentionally during a day’s ride route.
Lansing did a pretty good job trying to balance the rider, pedestrian and traffic flow into, out, and within town. The problem is that Lansing was simply too compact of a town to be an effective finish town. It was great that RAGBRAI gave Lansing a turn as a finish town but, logistically, Lansing was a very poor finish town choice because of its extremely limited in/out route options.
I rode into town about 11:30 and found the downtown very uncrowded. I later found out that was because they basically had to shut down the entire town core to vehicle traffic. This must have been very frustrating to the locals who might have wanted to go down to the finish area to participate in the finish activities. It must have also made it difficult for them to make much money off of the sparse downtown crowd.
I rode out Route 9 two miles to the Red Barn Campground where we were parked. From that point, inbound traffic looked to be backed up at least a mile further west out of town. Had someone needed to try to meet up with us, I don’t know how they could have done so, especially with the almost non-existent cell phone coverage in and around Lansing.
Overall, Bravo to Lansing for trying to manage a crowd probably more than 20 times their whole population and a big thumb’s down to RAGBRAI for selecting a town that they knew would make the pickup logistics very frustrating for riders, their rides out of town, and for the people who live in Lansing.