Friday, April 20, 2007

Flattest ride ever

That's how organizers are promoting the 35th edition of the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) 2007.

"It's the flattest RAGBRAI ever," said ride host Brian Duffy of this year's 478-mile trek across the northern third of the state, scheduled for July 22-28.

That's a welcome assessment for those of us who struggled with portions of the 2006 ride. Now if they could only control the heat, humidity and headwinds.

The ride will roll from west to east through these overnight towns: Rock Rapids (July 21, on the eve of the ride), Spencer (July 22), Humboldt (July 23), Hampton (July 24), Cedar Falls (July 25), Independence (July 26), Dyersville (July 27) and Bellevue (July 28).

The route shows riders staying in overnight towns with landmarks including Dyersville's Field of Dreams and the UNIDome in Cedar Falls. Pass through towns include George, Ashton, Melvin, Hartley and Moneta on Day 1; Dickens, Gillett Grove, Webb, Marathon, Laurens, Havelock, Rolfe, Bradgate and Rutland on Day 2; Dakota City, Thor, Eagle Grove, Clarion, Cornelia and Alexander on Day 3; Aredale, Dumont, Kesley, Aplington, and Stout on Day 4; Denver, Klinger, Dunkerton and Fairbank on Day 5; Winthrop, Lamont, Dundee, Manchester and Earlville on Day 6; and Worthington, Cascade, Garryowen, Bernard and LaMotte before we dip our tires in the Mississippi river in Bellevue.

As musician/poet Bruce Springsteen crooned in "For You," "they're waiting for you at Bellevue, with their oxygen masks."

This year's ride has additional allure due to cycling star and cancer research activist Lance Armstrong's pledge to ride the entire route.

Meanwhile, plans are coming together for Team CoeBRAI. Twenty-six brave souls have signed up for the trans-Iowa adventure, including 10 Coe College alumni, three current students and two staff members. We have riders from Illinois, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and Connecticut, as well as Iowa. We have secured host families in six of the seven overnight towns, with Humboldt the only holdout.

And they're waiting for you at Bellevue, with their oxygen masks.

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