RAGBRAI cyclists flood Guttenberg for two weekends - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

RAGBRAI cyclists flood Guttenberg for two weekends

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Ahead of the big ride, RAGBRAI bicyclists are dropping their vehicles and gear in Guttenberg, the route's final city.

This year's week-long bike route starts in Rock Valley on Iowa's western border and spans 431 miles from start to finish, stopping overnight in Okoboji, Emmetsburg, Forest City, Mason City, Waverly and Independence, before ending in Guttenberg.

By Friday afternoon, the small Mississippi River town of Guttenberg had turned temporarily into a bicycle city, as people from all over the country dropped their vehicles and gear there before busing over to Iowa's western border for the start of RAGBRAI. Some people left Guttenberg on Friday while others planned on camping overnight and leaving Saturday morning.

Guttenberg RAGBRAI committee co-chair Nancy McClellan said the city expected anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 campers overnight Friday.

Tisa Overman arrived in Guttenberg Friday to drop off her vehicle. She is from Milwaukee, Wis. and this is her eighth time on the ride.

"Oh gosh, I just love RAGBRAI," Overman said. "My brother's going to be joining me here (in Guttenberg), and we're going to go check out the town. So we spend a lot of money in Iowa, and we're happy to do it."

That's exactly what local business owners want to hear.

Roxy Knockel owns Guttenberg's Riverview Cafe and Dam Riverview Sports Bar. She said RAGBRAI will be a huge boon to her bottom line.

"Oh, definitely," Knockel said. "It'll help everybody around here. You know, (cyclists) shop, they go and drink, they eat."

RAGBRAI cyclist Dave Medlock came all the way from Atlanta, Ga. for this, his third RAGBRAI. He planned on camping overnight Friday in Guttenberg before taking off Saturday morning on a bus for Rock Valley.

"RAGBRAI is like Mecca for bicyclists," Medlock said with a smile. "You know, all good Muslims have to go to Mecca once in their life, and all good bicyclists have to go to RAGBRAI once."

On Sat., July 26, cyclists will return at the end of the route to dip their front tire in the Mississippi River.

Guttenberg businesses may be busier this weekend than during the next one, however. After a full week of biking an average of more than 60 miles per day, most cyclists will have a good night's sleep on the top of their priority list.

"When we're done and we do the tire dip, we can get in our car and go," RAGBRAI cyclist Pat Nelson said Friday in Guttenberg.

Guttenberg's most recent year as a RAGBRAI city was in 2005. The ride officially starts Sunday.

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