Breaking: RAGBRAI Overnight Stops Announced — And There’s Plenty Of Bike Seats Available

Written By Russ Mitchell on January 29, 2022 - Last Updated on July 22, 2022
RAGBRAI overnight stops

Organizers revealed the RAGBRAI overnight stops Friday night. Now, who’s going along for the ride?

The historic touring bicycle ride across the state features a mostly northern course from west to east through the state in 2022. RAGBRAI begins in Sergeant Bluff and ends in Lansing this summer.

The estimated 430-mile route is expected to be the 11th shortest cross-state ride in RAGBRAI’s 49-year history.

The cities in between are:

  • Ida Grove
  • Pocahontas
  • Emmetsburg
  • Mason City
  • Charles City
  • West Union

Iowa RAGBRAI 2022 schedule at a glance

  • Early March — Organizers release the detailed route, including ride-through towns and daily distances and elevations.
  • April 1 — Registration closes for weeklong riders, weeklong non-riders and teams.
  • May 1 — RAGBRAI releases wristband numbers for the weeklong participants. Registration packets should arrive at some point between mid-May and early June.
  • June 1 — Advanced registration for day passes closes. Day pass registration reopens at the host sites as the ride begins each day. Lawrie said: “Anyone who wants to join us on the ride that didn’t pre-register can register with us at each of those towns to get a wristband for the following day.”
  • July 23 to July 30 — RAGBRAI XLIX

No more RAGBRAI lottery

The route announcement always carries some suspense, but there’s no longer a lottery to add to the mystery.

As of Nov. 15, riders could know instantly whether they will be a part of RAGBRAI XLIX. For the first time, riders won’t face lottery odds as they make their late-July plans. Organizers have to limit capacity for safety reasons, but RAGBRAI Marketing Director Anne Lawrie said the RAGBRAI lottery has been “more of a formality” in recent years.

The weeklong registration wristbands are available on a first-come, first-serve basis right now.

“Now when they go in to register and pay for their registration, they’re guaranteed that wristband number. They’ll still get that wristband number on May 1, but they can rest assured that they’re registered for the ride and they will be with us in July.”

Between 15,000-20,000 riders, team members and support staff will take part in the 49th edition of RAGBRAI.

What to know about the touring bicycle festival


RAGBRAI began in 1973 as an idea and informal challenge between newspapermen at the Des Moines Register. Writer and copy editor John Karras thought “Over the Coffee” columnist Don Kaul should ride a bicycle across Iowa and write columns about his encounters along the way.

Kaul liked the idea, but only if Karras joined him on the trek across Iowa. With that, RAGBRAI — the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa — was born.

The first ride from Sioux City to Davenport was called the “Great Six-Day Bicycle Ride,” according to a retrospective at RAGBRAI’s official website.

About 300 people met Karras and Kaul in Sioux City. RAGBRAI says 114 riders made the river-to-river trip across Iowa.

Karras passed away on Nov. 10 at the age of 91. Organizers have dedicated the 2022 ride to him.

Take time to enjoy RAGBRAI overnight stops

RAGBRAI is a west-to-east rolling migration across the state. In fact, it’s a RAGBRAI tradition for riders to dip their back tire into the Missouri River at the start of the ride. Riders dip their front tire into the Mississippi River once they complete the cross-state journey.

There are six overnight towns between the starting point and the ending point. The distance between overnight hosts varies, but riders can expect to cover about 75 miles each day. Food and entertainment offerings help community non-profit groups at stops along the way.

“It’s really accessible to people,” Lawrie told PlayIA in December. “I think a lot of times people think of the seven days across the state and average of about 450 miles. There is training that needs to happen, but truly, it’s a ride that anyone can jump on and do one day or two days and pick the day that feels comfortable to them.”

As Lawrie suggests, riders don’t have to sign up for the entire route to experience small-town Iowa hospitality.

“Just make sure that you have friends with you. We do stop about every 10 miles, so all you really have to do is to commit to 10 miles at a time. And there’s great food and great friends along the way. I wouldn’t be scared to try at least one day.”

Plan a vacation around the RAGBRAI overnight stops

With 19 casinos around the state, riders also have some off-the-beaten-path entertainment options. RAGBRAI participants can use their mobile device to register at an Iowa sportsbook from anywhere along the route.

Registrations start to pick up once riders know RAGBRAI’s key stops, but Lawrie said registrants shouldn’t feel pressured to make an early commitment.

“If they still need to make sure that they can get time off of work and wait until it’s a little bit closer to their ride, we’ve been telling everyone that they can go ahead and do that. We should have spots available.”

Event organizers will keep riders updated if demand changes for any of the registration groups, however. The official website plus RAGBRAI’s social media accounts and newsletter will keep riders up-to-date.

“If you’re new to RAGBRAI and you want to get registered because you’re so excited, I’d say do it. But you can also wait and just take a look at our deadlines. Those are listed on too.”


Photo by Charlie Neibergall / AP
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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