CLEAR LAKE — Cycling is gaining momentum in North Iowa with trails and events for all riders.
Bicycle, Blues and BBQ is the biggest bike event in North Iowa and will run July 7-9. What started as a bike race event turned into an event for everyone with blues festival music, great food and craft beer.
The event has grown significantly. Organizers expect between 7,000 and 8,000 people this year. Last year, more than $50,000 in cash purses was given.
Entertainment this year includes Brian Naughton Band, Rachelle Coba and the Joe Moss Band. There will also be a Blues Guitar Workshop. Even those who aren't in to racing can participate in rides across North Iowa.
RAGBRAI will have several stops in North Iowa this year. Algona, Wesley, Hutchins, Britt, Garner, Ventura and Clear Lake are on the list of towns for Day 3 of the ride. From Clear Lake, the cyclists will travel to Thornton, passing through Swaledale, Rockwell, Cartersville and Rockford before ending in Charles City for Day 4.
With more communities adding bike paths, more cyclists are out and about.
"The infrastructure in Mason City and Clear Lake is a safer environment for cyclists," said Tim Putnam, organizer for Clear Lake's Bicycle Blues and BBQ. "It's encouraging them to come out and enjoy."
Mason City has been working on increasing bicycle/pedestrian trails throughout the city.
The city plans to buy 5 miles of abandoned rail line to create a bicycle trail in one of Mason City's more scenic areas. The High Line Bike Trail would run north and south through the city, connecting to the south with the trail leading to Clear Lake and to the north with Lime Creek Nature Center and its multi-use trails.
Lake Mills is in the process of connecting its recreation trail system. The current system is a combination of recreation trail, safe routes to school, paths and the intra-city sidewalk system. When complete, it will cover almost four miles.
Cycling in North Iowa
June 3 — North Iowa’s Gran Fondo, Clear Lake; 14-, 30- and 60-mile loops.
July 7-9 — Bicycle Blues and BBQ, Clear Lake.
July 23-29— RAGBRAI