The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 21, 2012

BIELEMA: Get ready for RAGBRAI

By Charlene Bielema
Herald Editor

CLINTON — It happens tomorrow.

The start of the 40th annual Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

For many Clinton residents, that fact inspires excitement as they get ready to make the annual easterly ride from the western part of the state to the Mississippi River.

There are many from this area who take the trip every year, which lasts seven days and this year begins in Sioux Center.

What makes this year's RAGBRAI even more special for local riders is that they will dip their tires in the Mississippi River at Clinton to mark the end of the event on July 28.

The announcement that Clinton was selected as the end town was made in January, and since then volunteers have been working hard to coordinate the event as it moves into the city.

From making sure the route is safe and collecting, painting and distributing bicycles for setting up welcome displays, to booking entertainment and making sure volunteers are ready to answer questions that riders will have as they gather near the Ninth Avenue North boat ramp, dozens of volunteers have been getting ready for the final day of the ride.

So what's all the hub-bub about?

First of all, this doesn't happen very often. This is only the fifth time in the history of the ride that it has ended in Clinton. And what a sight to see, with thousands of riders expected to pedal into Clinton to ultimately complete the ride on the northern end of Riverview Drive.

It also is a way for visitors who have never been here to see what Clinton has to offer — that could lead to investment and economic development by people who like what they see.

Next it is a community event, which has a way of bringing everyone together to enjoy each other's company and get out and meet neighbors.

It will be an exciting — and at times, chaotic — day, but RAGBRAI is important to Iowa and this year to Clinton especially.

So come on down to the route next Saturday to see what it is all about.

Then sit back and enjoy the ride.

Charlene R. Bielema has been employed with the Clinton Herald since June 1995. She has been the Herald’s editor since 2002.