RAGBRAI bikes

Hundreds of bicycles lined Main Street in Clear Lake when RAGBRAI riders came to stay for the night in 2010.

DES MOINES — Hordes of hungry, thirsty, party-ready bike riders will spend three nights in North Iowa this summer as three communities were selected as overnight stops for RAGBRAI.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa will stop in Algona, Clear Lake and Charles City as it winds its way from the Missouri River to the Mississippi. It will also ride through several more communities between those stops. 

In 2010 the bike ride also stopped in those three North Iowa cities. The exact route this year will be announced in March.

Both Clear Lake and Charles City had planned to have city representatives in Des Moines Saturday night for the route announcement party.

"If Charles City has an opportunity to be announced as a RAGBRAI community, we'd like to be down there to support that and share that experience," Charles City Administrator Steve Diers told the Globe Gazette on Wednesday. "But I have no idea of it's going to happen or not," he said.

Clear Lake Mayor Nelson Crabb, Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Callanan and City Administrator Scott Flory also planned to attend Saturday's ceremony.

"Nobody knows ahead of time until they announce it whether you're going to be a host community or not," Algona City Administrator Curt Wiseman said last week. "I guess we're just waiting until then to hear."

Algona did not plan to have representatives at the announcement.

The 45th annual bike ride route will begin Sunday, July 23, in Orange City and end Saturday, July 29, in Lansing.

It will have overnight stops in Spencer on Sunday, July 23, Algona on Monday, July 24, Clear Lake on Tuesday, July 25, Charles City on Wednesday, July 26, Cresco on Thursday, July 27, and Waukon on Friday, July 28, before riding into Lansing on Saturday.

Each year 10,000 people are awarded tickets in a lottery to be official participants in the event. Thousands of others tag along unofficially for all or parts of the ride to help create one of the largest moving parties of its kind.

RAGBRAI is billed by its sponsor, the Des Moines Register, as “the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world.”

It presents a unique opportunity for the towns along the route to market themselves to people who come here from all over the country and around the world.

Church groups, civic organizations, businesses and others also use the opportunity to make money by selling food, beverages and other services to the riders and support people.

Communities that host the group for overnight stays usually plan extensive events to welcome the throng, and the Register says that some estimates are that up to $3 million can be injected into a community by an overnight RAGBRAI stop.

The route this summer is being called the third-easiest in the event’s 45-year history. It is the third-shortest at a total of 411 miles, and the third flattest at a total climb of 13,073 feet.

The ride from Spencer to Algona on Monday is the longest day at 73.8 miles. The distance from Algona to Clear Lake is 51.4 miles. Clear Lake to Charles City is 57.5 miles. The shortest distance is on the last day, 44.8 miles from Waukon to Lansing as riders climb more than 3,200 feet through the hills before dropping back to the Mississippi River.

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