Iowa City needs hundreds of volunteers to prepare for RAGBRAI

Published: Jan. 29, 2018 at 6:12 PM CST
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There are 173 days until cyclists will be crossing the state on RAGBRAI.

That's the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Towns along the route are getting ready for their populations to swell. This year's route has overnight stays in these eight towns: Onawa, Denison, Jefferson, Ames, Newton, Sigourney, Iowa City and Davenport. RAGBRAI will be back in Iowa City for the first time in 42 years.

"It's a lot of work but it's a lot of fun work. The community really comes together for this event. We've seen that the last five times that it's happened in Coralville," said Josh Schamberger with the Iowa City and Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thousands will arrive on bikes, but for months before that, thousands will be preparing. Iowa City will need 800 volunteers to do things like empty trash cans and distribute maps, and everything in between.

"It's important to make sure that people have an opportunity to participate and I think that's where a lot of the excitement has been about so far. How can we help? We want to be involved. We'll build on that," said Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District.

This is an economic boost to a city with a thriving night scene, but there's a cost to hosting that many people. In Cedar County, the Sheriff is lobbying for the route to avoid his county. He said towns like Tipton have had not so great experiences with RAGBRAI in the past.

"The citizens of the cities, the quiet majority, they're tired of having people interfere with their lives and they're tired of having people urinate and defecate in their yards," said Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington.

Leaders in Iowa City have been hoping for RAGBRAI to return. They're creating a website and anticipate an overnight to remember.

"We'll have a lot of opportunity for people to roll in and out and make sure that economic impact is really huge so it's pretty exciting," said Bird.

Plans are underway to develop a website at Find the latest Iowa City RAGBRAI related news on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using @RAGBRAI_IC. If you would like to volunteer in Iowa City during RAGBRAI, call the Iowa City and Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 319-337-6592.