The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is coming through Monroe on Wednesday and the city is ready to host more than 20,000 estimated attendees. This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Iowa tradition, a seven-day, annual ride that happens every July across the state.
RAGBRAI is planned and coordinated by The Des Moines Register, with road assistance from the Iowa State Patrol and the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Wednesday’s route starts in Des Moines and ends in Knoxville for a total of 49.9 miles. The bicyclist will come into Monroe from Runnells on Highway F70. Once leaving Monroe, they will head south on Highway 14 until arriving in Wednesday’s overnight town, Knoxville.
Matt Mardeson, the Monroe city administrator, feels prepared and ready for thousands of avid bicyclist to come into town.
“We’ve made a lot of preparations, many organizations have come through to participate, including the fire department, and the pre-ride went well.”
The pre-ride is a trial run in June that provides communities with an estimated time to expect the cyclist. Monroe is expecting a majority of the visiting to take place between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., but the city will be ready much earlier than that.
The city developed a RAGBRAI committee to ensure that the community worked together to host an eventful day and meet the needs of the guest cyclists. Morning entertainment will start with Jam Tim DJ Services in the Monroe Fire Department Beverage Garden, followed by live music beginning at 11 a.m. Throughout the day, a photo booth session, mechanical bull, and water fights hosted by the Monroe Fire Department will also be available.
A RAGBRAI stop isn’t complete without a variety of food vendors and Monroe is prepared in that department as well. The committee has planned for 32 vendors that will provide an array of foods, beverages and even merchandise for sale. The Kiwanis will have grilled ribeye sandwiches, the Prairie City-Monroe sophomore class will have corn on the cob, and the PCM Cheer Squad will have BBQ pork sandwiches.
Joe Urias, owner of Mojo Cycling of Newton said many local bikers have been preparing for this years RAGBRAI and he’s been very busy in his store.
“Everyone’s into getting accessories now, whether it’s bags, shorts, water bottles, lights, racks. It’s been great,” Urias said. “We’ve also had a lot of tune ups too. I’ve had people call from Des Moines because their bike shops are too busy and so they’ve been bringing them here.”
Joe and his wife Monica have been riding in RAGBRAI the last five years. They enjoy the riding with their friends, the atmosphere, and the environment.
“You can see things on a bike you can’t see anywhere else. You’re in the middle of Iowa with a bunch of other people on bikes too. All you can see around you are rolling hills and all you hear is the wind blow - it doesn’t get much better than that.”
The City of Monroe will start closing some of its street around the square at 4 p.m. on Tuesday to allow vendors to start setting up and the city to lay out the electrical grid.
“I think our committee did a good job of getting it planned out for everyone and providing everyone with their needs. I’m optimisic everything is going to go over well and we just hope we have a fun crowd.”