Today will be a banner day in Clinton, with thousands of bicyclists coming into the city from the northwest as they head to the Ninth Avenue North boat ramp and the end of the week-long Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, commonly known as RAGBRAI.
Check out our complete RAGBRAI coverage, along with photos.
Riders throughout this morning, into the afternoon and possibly evening will dip their front tires in the Mississippi River as they mark the end of a ride that began July 21 in Sioux Center.
Rolling into Anamosa on Friday morning, bicyclists participating in RAGBRAI were finishing up the shortest leg of the seven-day ride -- a little more than 42 miles.
Friday also provided a much-needed break in the oppressive heat that plagued the riders throughout much of the week. Many riders said Thursday night’s cooler weather lent itself to the first good night’s sleep they had during this year’s trek.
Arlyn and Mary Sue VanderEide, members of Clinton’s River Bend Bicycle Club, made the ride from Cedar Rapids to Anamosa on Friday morning as part of the seventh RAGBRAI they have completed.
Near the club’s miniature tent city in an Anamosa baseball field, Mary Sue said Friday this RAGBRAI has been deemed the hottest one in RAGBRAI’s 40-year history; the couple, who ride a tandem bicycle, said their plan was to start their daily ride as early as possible each day to avoid as much of the afternoon sun as possible.
“We would take off as soon as we could see,” Arlyn said.
The couple are looking forward to ending the ride in Clinton today, just miles from their Illinois home — and it’s not just because there will be friendly and familiar faces there to greet them after the 471-mile ride.
“Of all the towns where we’ve ended, Clinton’s got the best riverfront,” Arlyn said.
View photos from Friday in Anamosa:
The ride began a week ago today in Sioux Center, with overnight stops in Cherokee, Lake View, Webster City, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids and Anamosa on Friday. Today’s ride will come in around 70 miles.
The event is celebrating its 40th year and is the longest, largest and oldest bicycle touring event in the world. Clinton has served as the end city four previous times — 1978, 1985, 1994 and 2004.
Local organizers learned in January the city had been picked as this year’s endpoint and have been meeting consistently to pick the local route, set up parking and assistance for riders, and organize vendors and entertainment for today’s festivities.
Not only will the bicyclists swell the city’s population for the day, but they will be joined by buses and other vehicles that have supported riders throughout the event. After arriving in Clinton today, many of those riders will depart on charter buses to head for home.
Not the VanderEides, however.
After dipping their tires, they are thinking of making the 5-mile ride to their house by bicycle.
“After 70 miles, what’s five more,” Arlyn said.