THE EARLY LEAD | Why RAGBRAI could come through northern Greene County and the route riders should take

By Brandon Hurley
Managing Editor

Will RAGBRAI return to Greene County?

That’s the pressing question as the route for the 50th Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, was released last month to a generous amount of fanfare. The ride’s half-century anniversary tours much of central Iowa, and even travels through the state capitol midway through the week. This year’s ride will be held July 22-29.

The overnight towns start in Sioux City, then heading to Storm Lake before departing south to Carroll. Riders will head pretty much straight east to Ames after that, then south to Des Moines before pedaling to Tama-Toledo, overnighting the next day in Coralville, finishing once again, five years later in Davenport.

The pass through towns, unfortunately, have not yet been released, but are expected to be announced in March.

With no inside knowledge, I believe RAGBRAI has a legitimate shot of rolling through northern Greene County this year, making another trek through our local landscape.
Of course, I’m not taking much of a leap with my prediction due to the fact the route on Tuesday, July 25 will traverse 83 miles of Iowa landscape from Carroll to Ames. Naturally, if you took direct route between the two towns, it would consume roughly 65 miles of Highway 30.

Obviously, this notion means RAGBRAI must find a way to add 18 miles to its route, which I believe will likely travel through the northern portion of our county.
I think hitting Churdan and most certainly Paton are incredibly viable options. Paton in particular would be fabulous. The city park is awesome and spacious, complete with nice pickle ball courts and a handful of new basketball hoops. The restaurant of 209 Main would be a huge hit. Then you have the bustling factories of John Deere and Bauer Built to show off, in addition to the Paton Pit Stop, one of the best small-town gas stations in the area. Additionally, if you come through Churdan you have the Rocket Fuel gas station, which is community owned and a cool anchor point for the rural town. Of course, there’s also the Paton-Churdan School District to show off and you have to bet the great Churdan Public Library will have some neat activities planned. Visiting Churdan and Paton would give riders - who come from all over the country - a great taste of what rural Iowa is all about.
Now, how exactly will RAGBAI get from Carroll, to northern Greene County and over to Ames? It’s rather simple, and this editor has taken a scientific stab at predicting the route for Tuesday, July 25.
Let’s rewind the clock a little bit. Only five years have passed since RAGBRAI chose Jefferson as an overnight town, so that likely takes our county seat out of play.

Instinctively, a reasonable route would also be to head south once RAGBRAI leaves Carroll, but they did that five years ago when the ride used Jefferson as an overnight. Riders hit towns such as Templeton, Dedham, and Coon Rapids before trekking through Scranton on the way to J-Town. A natural connection would be to essentially follow the Raccoon River Valley Trail, hitting towns like Cooper, Jamaica and Dawson on the way to Perry, but a path like that would end up being much further than the 83 miles the planning committee has already mapped out to Ames.

N-33 north to E-26, where riders would head east to Lidderdale. The route, in theory would then continue on E-26 until you hit N-41, which riders would take south for a bit to E-27, where they’d once again head east.
That stretch of highway trudges along, crossing the North Raccoon River. I’d imagine it would continue to N-58, where you head north for a handful of miles until the route hits E-19, which would lead riders directly into Churdan.
There’s also a route from Lidderdale that can take riders to the east to N-41, all the way up to E-16 into Lanesboro, then south on N-47 down to 130th Street which would take riders a few miles east onto E-19. I could see this as a feasible option as, especially since Tuesday, July 24 is century loop day, and a side trip further north to Lake City after Lidderdale puts a nice bow on 100 miles. The path from Churdan to Paton is an easy one, a straight shot to the east down E-18, which is a 13 mile ride.

I’d imagine the RAGBRAI route would continue along E-18 to Boxholm in Boone County, then over to Pilot Mound. In theory, they could reasonably hit the town of Boone again (though they did so in 2018), since there isn’t much north of the city after Pilot Mound, and you can still hit Gilbert after the fact, and come into Ames from the north.
This exact route is roughly 83 miles.

I could be way off on this, and RAGBRAI could essentially try and bypass Greene County all together, choosing to go up toward Fort Dodge, or even south, like I mentioned earlier. But for this avid biker and editor, let’s hope it swings through in the late summer.  

Sunday July 23: Storm Lake
77 miles, 3504 feet of climbing

Monday July 24: Carroll
62 miles, 1818 feet of climbing

Tuesday July 25: Ames
83 miles, 1479 feet of climbing

Wednesday July 26: Des Moines
50 miles (interesting number!), 1216 feet of climbing

Thursday July 27: Tama-Toledo
82 miles, 3652 feet of climbing

Friday July 28: Coralville
80 miles, 3276 feet of climbing

Saturday July 29: Davenport
66 miles, 1604 feet of climbing

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