By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa riders pumped an estimated $1.3 million into the Clinton area last weekend, according to the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce.
“All of our hotels were full, they ate at our restaurants, went to our stores, got gas here,” Marsha Smith, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. “It was phenomenal. Have you ever seen that many people in one place at a time?”
Smith said last time RAGBRAI came to Clinton, in 2004, it brought 10,000 riders. Last week more than 15,000 dipped their tires into the Mississippi River at the Ninth Avenue North boat ramp. After the dip, riders ventured throughout Clinton. Some were merely trying to find their ride home, some a shower and others were ready for a hot meal.
Riverview Pool made more than $1,700 from visitors, including RAGBRAI riders, seeking a shower, fresh towel and possibly a dip in the pool after arriving on Saturday. The pool experienced a Saturday four times as busy as usual with 583 visitors taking advantage of the special $3 admission, according to City of Clinton Recreation Director Gregg Obren.
“The biggest compliment the front desk heard was ‘this is so nice of Clinton,’” Obren said.
Teah Shirk, a manager at the Candlelight Inn, said many RAGBRAI riders visited the restaurant on Saturday and some even stopped by Sunday.
“We had one of our best weekends since we opened,” she said. “Some of them stopped in for cocktails and appetizers and some came for dinner. We saw a lot of them.”
In total, RAGBRAI riders spent $218,000 in the Clinton area. The Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce calculates the economic impact by taking that figure and multiplying it by six to account for the workers who served the riders and will then spend that money in the Clinton area.
“The money goes back out into the community,” Smith said.
The RAGBRAI committee will return to Clinton at the end of this month to discuss the event with the Chamber. Smith said while she’s heard some suggestions for what could have been improved she’s happy with the event.
“Seeing all of those bikers come down to the river and all the colorful shirts. If you had a paint brush you could have painted a really beautiful picture,” she said.