Orange City Kicks Off 2017 RAGBRAI
As bikers wiz by shouting “morning, morning, good morning,” it’s easy to tell the group got an early start. It’s not a small group; 25,000 bicyclists are beginning their 400 mile trek across Iowa in this year’s Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI event.
“When you go from a town of 6,000 people and add 25,000 it’s really neat,” says publicity chair Jenon Scallon. “They come from all over the country, so they get to have a small town experience.”
The race not only brings in riders from Tennessee, Arizona and Virginia, to name a few, it also brings in their fans.
“Two, four, six, eight who do we appreciate? Dad, dad, dad!”
The Colton family traveled from Connecticut to send off their dad.
“We hope he does not get hurt and he goes all the way through and loves it,” says the oldest daughter, Cacie.
Support teams also travel along the route.
“A lot of people have teams and then their drivers will meet them in the next town,” explains Scallon.
The ride lasts for a week ending in Lansing, Iowa.
“You have to do some training, I mean you’re on your bike for 4, 5, maybe 6 hours each day,” says Jim Kennedy, who traveled from Phoenix, Arizona.
“We take it pretty easy and little bites at a time,” adds his brother Frank, from Tennessee. “It’s not challenging if you take it at little bites.”
Veteran riders say it’s the people they meet along the way, and the small towns they visit that keep them pedaling through.
“You never know what you’re going to see, everybody has a different story, it’s great,” says Jim.
Close to 800 volunteers have helped put on the event this weekend. On Saturday, Orange City hosted concerts and more than 80 vendors as a celebration before the bikers took off.
“It’s been really fun,” says Scallon. “It’s such a short amount of time that people are here in town so we just wanted to make sure they felt welcome and just had a great start to their RAGBRAI experience.”
While they haven’t calculated it yet, organizers say the economic impact from RAGBRAI will be huge. Riders stopped at gas stations, restaurants, and stayed in area hotels and campgrounds during their stay.