Sunday, March 9, 2008

RAGBRAI route follows Lincoln Highway

Hills come alive with sounds of RAGBRAI


Break out the Burma Shave signs. The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa is heading down the old Lincoln Highway.

A fair portion of this year's edition of the trans-Iowa ride, July 20-26, will follow the country's first coast-to-coast highway on U.S. Highway 30. The 471-mile route will also take riders along other officially designated stretches, such as the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway.

At 471 miles, the route is nearly the same distance as last year's - 477 miles - but the amount of climb is not. Last year's 10,000 registered riders climbed 13,600 feet. This year they'll face 22,500 feet - it's a return to the hills, valleys and ridges that define this state.

Look at the bright side: Despite more climb, this route still does not make the top 10 most hilly - it's No. 11.

More positives: Riders will visit two first-time overnight towns, North Liberty and Le Claire, and eight first-time pass-through towns, Albion, South Amana, Martelle, Bennett, New Liberty, Maysville, Eldridge and Argo.

Additionally, it's been an average of 17 years since the ride has visited the other overnight towns. For many riders, the experience will be new.

If the hills don't take breath away, the scenery will. Throughout the climbs, drops, twists and turns, there is more than enough Iowa beauty to take riders' minds off the challenge of the terrain.

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