RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Ready to Launch from Council Bluffs!

The RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Team arrived in Council Bluffs this afternoon preparing for their seven-day journey across the state.  Approximately 45 members of the RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Team, including RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI Assistant Director Scott Garner, RAGBRAI’s Merchandise and Media Manager and host of the JustGoBike podcast’s ParrotTalk Andrea Parrott and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition’s Executive Director Mark Wyatt will ride the entire RAGBRAI route 50-ish days in advance of the event. This year’s ride will encompass 427 miles across the state, from Council Bluffs to Keokuk.  The local RIDE RIGHT Committees will also join the ride in their areas of the state.

RAGBRAI XLVII is dedicated to Donald Kaul, our beloved if reluctant Co-Founder (along with John Karras). One of our many favorite Kaul quotes comes from a 1976 IPTV RAGBRAI video, “You can’t plan a bicycle ride and say ‘boy if the sun shines and it doesn’t rain and there’s no wind, we’re gonna have a good time.’ You say, ‘man I’m going to have a good time no matter what happens!’ and that’s what this is all about.”

For a little more on Kaul: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2018/07/23/donald-kaul-ragbrai-co-founder-and-des-moines-register-columnist-dies/729471002/

Here’s the link to that IPTV video from 1976, it’s a must-watch if you haven’t seen it already: http://www.iptv.org/video/story/32849/1976-ragbrai-founder-interviews

This year marks our fifteenth consecutive Route Inspection.  The mission of the Route Inspection Ride is to spend an entire week inspecting the route and teaching the local RIDE RIGHT Committees what to do with the information learned during the inspection ride.  The group meets with the 8 overnight towns and over 40 pass-through town leaders along the way to review their RAGBRAI game plans.  They also will be looking at traffic patterns since they will be riding the route on the same day of the week that RAGBRAI will ride on later this summer.

RAGBRAI works diligently with the RIDE RIGHT committees to continually inspect the roads and report potential hazards to local officials and engineers who might be able to repair the roadways.  The local RIDE RIGHT committee also alerts home owners on the route about the event and educates townspeople about bicycle safety.  Many committees will host bike rodeos, helmet giveaways and other safety events for the community’s youth prior to RAGBRAI’s arrival.

In addition to reporting on road conditions, the team will be posting a daily update to RAGBRAI.com, pointing out some places of interest along the route that riders wouldn’t want to miss.  The team will also be inspecting some of the tasty treats that the town will be serving to RAGBRAIers in July.

A big thanks to Rich Ketcham of Geobike for devising the high-tech GPS tracking system for this year’s pre-ride and Mark Wyatt, the executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition and the RIDE RIGHT state chairman, for helping with all safety aspects of the ride.

The team met Saturday evening with the local Council Bluffs RIDE RIGHT Committee to discuss Sunday’s pre-ride and safety concerns in their community.   For the past several years, the Ride Inspection Team has been joined daily on their trek by the local committee members as well as local bike club members and bike shop owners that are willing to help.


This will be Council Bluffs’ seventh time to host the start of RAGBRAI. Their theme this year plays off of the city’s UNlike Anywhere Else campaign: “UNleash Council Bluffs,” asking locals to UNleash all Council Bluffs has to offer for RAGBRAI visitors.

Things will kick off on Saturday, July 20 with the RAGBRAI Expo taking place in the northeast Mid-America Center parking lot, just south of 23rd Ave.  The expo will feature live music and a beer garden along with more than 80 cycling related vendors.

The expo will include two stages, a main stage and a second stage set up in the event’s beer garden. Twisted Whiskey will perform from 2 to 4 p.m. in the beer garden followed by Touch of Grey from 4 to 6 p.m. As previously announced, Polka Police and Taxi Driver will perform on the main stage from 7 to 8 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. respectively.

Twisted Whiskey is a local band, member Christy Owens is a Thomas Jefferson High School alumna. She and fellow band member Jimmy Little make up a duo, playing country and rock. Touch of Grey will change the beat with their setlist of mostly Grateful Dead covers.

On the main stage, Polka Police—consisting of brothers Jason and Jamie Burmeister—will kick things off with their “eclectic mix of high energy rock and roll.” Taxi Driver will close out the party with their six-piece band, covering current and classic hits.

During Saturday or the next morning, RAGBRAI riders can make their way to scenic Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park for the tire dip and an endless amount of photo opportunities. Riders can take a quick detour onto Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, whose entrance is in the park, to go bobbing (taking a photo standing on the state line of Iowa and Nebraska in the middle of the bridge).

A new sculpture was recently installed at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park by Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment with the help of the City of Council Bluffs and an anonymous donor. Looking Up (2015) is a 33-foot high humanoid like sculpture that calls for attention. You’ll definitely want to snap a photo of the piece.

In addition to Looking Up, riders can spend their time in Council Bluffs exploring all of the art in the city, taking photos with their UNsculptures and viewing public art like the Haymarket Rabbits or the Molecule Man. From historical pieces like their restored Broadway Fountain to modern sights like their aluminum larger-than-life sculptures around the Mid-America Center, there’s a lot of beauty to see in Council Bluffs. You can even download the handy Otocast app to help guide you on your art tour.

It’s not a complete visit to Council Bluffs until you explore the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, named Iowa’s best. The museum features exhibits exploring the history of the transcontinental railroad—it’s the 150th anniversary this year!—, passenger travel, and more. Continue on your railroad journey with a stop at the General Dodge House before completing your historic tour with a visit to the Squirrel Cage Jail, one of three jails left with its rotary style construction.

Cool off at one of their water parks or take the kids to one of the splash pads at Bayliss or Fairmount parks. They’ll have a blast playing with the parks’ interactive water features. Here’s a list of ways to cool off in Council Bluffs.

Since you’re about to burn a lot of calories biking; you can afford to indulge and Council Bluffs is a great place to do so with options like 712 Eat + Drink360 Steak HouseMad Ox Bakery, and many more delicious eateries. Be sure to check out the 100 Block in downtown with favorites like Barley’sCaddy’s Kitchen & CocktailsLincoln’s Pub, and more!

You can check out a full list of restaurants or read some of their blog posts for quick lists of quality tacosbreakfast spots, where to get your pizza fix, and where to grab a cup of coffee.

Check out a full list of attractions for more ideas of things to do during your stay, and if you’ve visited before, here is a list of new happenings in the area over the last couple of years.

For more information on Council Bluffs’ RAGBRAI plans, visit:

Their website: https://www.ragbraicb.com/
Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ragbraicb/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RAGBRAI_CB/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/RAGBRAI_CB/

Main Stage Entertainment: Taxi Driver
Opening Acts: Polka Police


Be sure to tune in each day for the daily updates and photos from the route inspection ride on the RAGBRAI web site www.ragbrai.com or on the JustGoBike Podcast available at www.SoundCloud.com/JustGoBike or wherever you get your podcasts.

You can also follow the pre-ride adventure and learn interesting tidbits about the route by following on FACEBOOK  Facebook.com/RAGBRAI or on TWITTER by following @RAGBRAI_IOWA@TJRAGBRAI, or @RAGBRAI_Andrea

For the past several years, the RAGBRAI Route Inspection Ride Team has been joined daily on their trek by the local committee members as well as local bike club members and bike shop owners that are willing to help.  If you plan to join the riders for a day, you must provide your own transportation back.

RAGBRAI XLVII Route Inspection Pre-Ride Schedule
(Sunday, June 2 – Saturday, June 8, 2019)

Sunday, June 2
(Council Bluffs to Atlantic)
Ride leaves at 7 AM from:
Mid-America Center
(Meet just south of Courtyard by Marriott near giant sculpture of three wrestlers)
Monday, June 3
(Atlantic to Winterset)
Ride leaves at 7 AM from:
Downtown – Atlantic City Park
Tuesday, June 4
(Winterset to Indianola)
Ride leaves at 7 AM from:
Downtown Square Courthouse
Wednesday, June 5
(Indianola to Centerville)
Ride leaves at 7 AM from:
Simpson’s Buxton Stadium SE Gate
Thursday, June 6
(Centerville to Fairfield)
Ride leaves at 7 AM from:
Downtown Square Freedom Rock
Friday, June 7
(Fairfield to Burlington)
Ride leaves at 7 AM from:
Downtown Square Gazebo
Saturday, June 8
(Burlington to Keokuk)
Ride leaves at 7 AM from:
Downtown Snake Alley – Bottom Exit


1 Comment

Luis Ortiz-Yambo, Jun 3, 2019 at 3:07 pm

If we go the routes that you people said, then there will be 446 miles instead of the 427 that you have on the original route. Also on the original route it was 78 miles from Indianola to Centerville and now there are 84.3 miles plus more elevation and so on.

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