Towns gear up to host RAGBRAI
Friday, July 20, 2012
Tents dominate the Lake View landscape in 2004, the last time the town of 1,200 hosted weary cyclists for a night of the weeklong journey across Iowa.
Lake View is bracing for slews of cyclists that will break there overnight Monday, closing its downtown streets, hiring entertainment and transforming every patch of open land into sleeping grounds for the estimated 15,000 riders on the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.
Cyclists will reach Lake View by the second night in their weeklong voyage across Iowa. Lake View, RAGBRAI’s smallest overnight town, lies 120 miles away from the event’s Sunday kickoff in Sioux Center.
RAGBRAI, which will swell the Sac County town of 1,200 to over 20,000, last visited Lake View in 2004.
has passed through Lake View twice before. This year marks the fourth time the town of 1,200 will swell to over 20,000 as it hosts weary cyclists, volunteers and visitors for the night. The last was in 2004. The theme for this year’s visit is “Take a Brake at the Lake.”
Lake View is reaching out to its neighbors for help with its biggest hurdle: finding room.
“Housing has been kind of a headache,” said Chora Lohr, one of five RAGBRAI co-chairs coordinating the Lake View stay. “It’s not just a town effort, its kind of a countywide effort when this comes through,”
Hoards of cyclists will be scattered across a handful of different lodging sites where they can pitch tents including the State Park, Camp Crescent and even some residential front lawns. Others will stay in nearby Wall Lake and Sac City where there is additional space.
The bulk of Lake View’s downtown streets — everything west of High Street — will be closed Monday. To accommodate residents, four different shuttle routes will run within Lake View and two will have out-of-town service to Wall Lake and Sac City.
The town’s small size is also an advantage, Lohr said. All of the attractions are within walking distance, saving sore legs some extra energy. There will be a beer garden on the lake shore and a series of concerts on the Main Street stage, including The Johnny Holm Band, the much-anticipated headliner.
“Hopefully they’ll take advantage of riding into town and seeing how great a town we have for our size,” Lohr said. “We have a great lake and bike trails, and our small town hospitality will hopefully get them back as a visitor in the future.”
Local business owners also hope to capitalize on the surge of hungry and thirsty bikers bursting into Lake View.
Teresa Drilling is rolling out a massive wedding tent to house the merchandise from her mercantile-goods stores. She will be selling wine — by the glass and by the bottle — fresh T-shirts and flip-flops to the overnight cyclists.
“I don’t know what to expect because it’s the first time having my business when we’ve had RAGBRAI here,” said Drilling, who owns Wooden Ore in Lake View. “I’m a little overwhelmed but we hope we have everything they need and that they will be happy.
Jon Peterson, manager of Glacier Bay Bar & Grille, said he is preparing for upwards of 6,000 people to walk through the doors of the one-year-old restaurant. Glacier Bay Bar & Grille is the first bar cyclists will see as they pedal into town on North State Road.
“We’re hoping to be one of the main attractions, if not the main attraction,” he said.
He hopes to lure famished and fun seeking cyclists with an extravagant buffet, a beer tent and live music.
From Lake View, cyclists will make their way into Auburn by breakfast time the next morning before crossing into Calhoun County through Lake City.
U.S. Highway 175 must remain open because it is a state road, but organizers in Lake City are asking residents to clear the path of their cars.
Local volunteers will help traffic control, dispensing water and sports drinks under the searing sun. Food vendors selling everything from pancakes to sausage will line the route, and a professional stuntman performing in the park will top off the attractions.
“It’s been a fabulous effort,” said Joyce Wiederin, co-chair of the RAGBRAI planning committee for Lake City.
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