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Anamosa preparing for RAGBRAI 2021 as ride organizers still figure out which COVID precautions to implement

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 10:53 PM CST
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ANAMOSA, Iowa (KCRG) - With wider vaccine availability expected in the coming weeks and months, RAGBRAI organizers are pushing forward with planning this summer’s ride for late July.

But there are still a lot of details to figure out about what this year’s ride and its overnight stops will look like.

RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, was called off last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s river-to-river ride, scheduled to kick off July 25 in Le Mars and wrap up July 31 in Clinton, will feature most of the same overnight stops as the postponed 2020 route, including Waterloo and Anamosa.

In normal years, the ride can bring in an influx of up to 20,000 people to cities and towns along its path, and that’s meant a night of good business for local bars, restaurants, and stores.

“Most small businesses are really struggling right now, so this will definitely be a good shot in the arm for them,” Duane Mosser, the store manager at Giggle Juice Liquor Station in Anamosa, said.

Mosser worked in Anamosa when the ride had stopped in town in previous years, most recently in 2012.

“I was a manager of a grocery store in town, and it was a huge boom for the business,” Mosser said. “I don’t know of too many businesses that this can’t help out when they come through.”

LeeAnna Boone, executive director of the Anamosa Chamber of Commerce, said they will be able to use most of the plans they had sketched out for last year’s overnight stop, before the ride was canceled, for this year — with pandemic-related changes.

“We’re going to take every precaution and do what we need to do,” Boone said.

Boone said they’re following the guidance from RAGBRAI organizers on what those precautions will be, and at this point, nothing’s final.

According to an FAQ section on its website, options include limiting how many people can ride, assigning start times, and restricting overnight stops to camping and RVs instead of home stays. Organizers also said they haven’t ruled out requiring cyclists have negative COVID tests or vaccines either.

“We’re not going to do anything to put our citizens in harm’s way, so we’re just going to follow the guidelines,” Boone said. “We’ll be talking to public health and just doing whatever we can to make it a good RAGBRAI.”

Last year, Mosser said he was actually relieved when the ride ended up not happening.

But this year, he feels like everyone has a better idea of how to handle the virus and said he trusts RAGBRAI organizers will keep his city safe.

“It would not benefit them to have this thing blow up and be a mess,” Mosser said, noting his store will be taking its own precautions as well.

Even with preparations underway, it is still possible this summer’s ride could be called off for the second year in a row. RAGBRAI organizers said they will announce a decision on that by mid-March.

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