Cedar Rapids gearing up to host RAGBRAI riders - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids gearing up to host RAGBRAI riders


Cedar Rapids is gearing up to be an overnight stop on RAGBRAI 40.  The city will host thousands of riders on Thursday, July 26. 

The 2012 route begins in Sioux Center, then stops in Cherokee, Lake View, Webster City, and Marshalltown before coming through Cedar Rapids, Anamosa, and ending at the Mississippi River in Clinton.  This year's ride takes place July 22-28.      

The economic impact of the RAGBRAI stop in Cedar Rapids is likely to top $1 million alone.  But for the City of Five Seasons, having thousands of cyclists ride through the corridor is also a chance to showcase the significant strides made in bringing the city back to life after the floods of 2008.

A single cyclist was pedaling through downtown Cedar Rapids on Sunday afternoon.  But in just a few short months, some 15,000 bikes will take to the city's streets as it hosts an overnight visit of RAGBRAI for the first time in 20 years.

"The focus is really going to be on the downtown.  But we have plenty of available space.  Whether it's in the downtown, in the Mays Island effort, Ellis Park isn't too far off, and we'll use the New Bo market area.  So we'll have plenty of space for all the riders.  That's not a concern," said Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett.

And while many RAGBRAI cyclists will camp out, their support teams and other visitors will likely book up all 3,000 Cedar Rapids area hotel rooms.  Add to that money spent on dining and entertainment, and the overnight stop will be a big boon for the city.

"It's mainly just about being a great host for those riders, and hopefully as they get up the next morning on Friday they feel really good about their stay in Cedar Rapids," Mayor Corbett said.

The city is anxious to show off its flood recovery.  Construction is happening everywhere, with many projects slated to be finished soon.  In fact, the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library will celebrate its grand re-opening just days before RAGBRAI riders arrive.  The city hopes what visitors find will make them want to come back and visit again after the bike ride is over.

"We sure hope that this will drive traffic to the museum, to the Czech Village and New Bohemia, to this whole arts and entertainment district that people will say, 'There's things happening there,' because there will be things happening," said Gail Naughton, CEO of the Czech and Slovak Museum and Library.

And as that word of mouth travels about how far Cedar Rapids recovery has come, it might just continue pushing the city back onto its feet after a major disaster.

Mayor Corbett says a committee is already working on all the arrangements to accommodate RAGBRAI riders.  And while it will be a lot of work, he hopes it's not another 20 years before RAGBRAI returns to Cedar Rapids.

Hundreds of volunteers will be needed to coordinate the overnight visit.  Anyone interested in helping can contact the Cedar Rapids Convention and Visitors Bureau at (319) 398-5009.


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