Guttenberg gearing up as RAGBRAI 2014 route's final stop - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Guttenberg gearing up as RAGBRAI 2014 route's final stop

The Mississippi River town of Guttenberg is gearing up for RAGBRAI 2014 The Mississippi River town of Guttenberg is gearing up for RAGBRAI 2014

Some are already thinking about the last week of July and the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

The route will start in Rock Valley and make its way across northern Iowa before ending at the Mississippi River in Guttenberg, which is nestled in the bluffs of Clayton County.

Guttenberg, with its population of approximately 2,000, is preparing to welcome some 20,000 people this summer, as RAGBRAI cyclists and supporters roll into town.

Nancy McClellan is co-chair of the city's RAGBRAI committee and said this is "huge for Guttenberg. I mean, it's a wonderful opportunity that we don't get every year, obviously."

She said unlike at overnight stops, most cyclists are ready to dip their tires in the Mississippi River and go home by the time they hit the last city. That's why Guttenberg's RAGBRAI committee members are brainstorming ways to entice visitors to stay.

"We can even maximize, if you will, the time that they stay for a short time if we offer meals - the type of meals that they want - if we offer entertainment," McClellan said. "They might stay for an hour or two, which, that's wonderful if we can get them to stay for even an hour or two."

RAGBRAI last rolled into Guttenberg in 2005, resulting in more than $20,000 for the city's RAGBRAI committee, which it gave to local non-profit and civic organizations.

McClellan, who served as the committee's chair in 2005, didn't have a dollar figure for economic benefit to local businesses, but she said in a town as small as Guttenberg, every little bit counts.

"Businesses that had food or drink, they were packed," she said.

Adding to tourism, McClellan said, many cyclists take the day or two prior to RAGBRAI's start to park their vehicle and camp at the end of the route, before taking a shuttle to the western side of the state and beginning of the ride.

"We parked 600 cars last time," McClellan recalled about 2005. "We've been told to expect more this time."

"That's what gets crowded for us, is having permanent parking for these people that park a week ahead," Guttenberg's mayor Russ Loven said. "We'll get it done, but it's not simple, that's for sure."

McClellan estimated Guttenberg will need some 200 volunteers, which represents one tenth of the town's population.

RAGBRAI is "really big money-wise, visibility-wise, the possibility of returns, and it's cool to pull the community together," she said.

Loven said 2005's RAGBRAI exposed people to the river town's beauty, turning cyclists into repeat visitors in following years.

"We're looking forward to people coming to Guttenberg and enjoying our community," Loven said. "If they haven't been here, they'll be awed by the beauty of the community, especially coming down the hills."

The exact route to the river is not yet set, but cyclists can expect hills near Guttenberg, no matter what.

The city's South Marina will likely be the site of the iconic tire dip.

"We have one of the, we like to think, probably one of the best dipping points in the whole Mississippi River," Loven said. "It's just easy to get to."

This will be Guttenberg's fifth time as a RAGBRAI city in the ride's 42 years. The other years were 1980, 1987, 1996 and 2005.

Follow Guttenberg's RAGBRAI plans on its Facebook page. McClellan said a website is in the works.

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