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UPDATE: Waterloo to host RAGBRAI riders in overnight stop

UPDATE: Waterloo to host RAGBRAI riders in overnight stop

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RAGBRAI 2020 logo

DES MOINES — It's been a decade since RAGBRAI made an overnight stop in Waterloo.

But Saturday night, Waterloo was named one of the eight host cities for an overnight stop for the thousands of bicyclists making their way across the state in the 48th year of the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

RAGBRAI officials announced the eight overnight stops from west to east are Le Mars, Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Waterloo, Anamosa, Maquoketa and Clinton.

The cross-through towns for this year’s ride, July 19-25, will be named at a later date, officials said.

Tavis Hall, executive director of Experience Waterloo, was in Des Moines for the announcement.

"It's huge for us. Just look back at the progress we have made in the past 10 years. To be able to reflect it as a community on how far we've come, and to have people from all over the state and country come here and check out Waterloo and see the progress we have made is awesome," he said.

Preliminary plans call for the overnight campers to stay in Exchange Park with festivities in two downtown locations.

A celebration and kickoff meeting for anyone interested in being a part of the planning process is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at SingleSpeed Brewing, 325 Commercial St. Hall said a large number of people and their talents are  needed.

"This is going to take a lot of hands. It's a huge opportunity and a huge calling for us to come together and lift together" to show off our community for RAGBRAI, he said.

The last time RAGBRAI made an overnight stop in Waterloo was July 29, 2010, when it returned after a 25-year hiatus. The main activity area was at Lost Island Water Park, but shuttle buses ferried riders to downtown attractions.

The ride also overnighted in Waterloo in 1985 and 1974.

Riders last spent the night in Cedar Falls in 2015. That stay centered around the UNI-Dome. The city also hosted overnights in 2007, 1998 and 1989.

Waverly was an overnight destination in 2014, 1999 and 1980.

The world-famous bicycle ride was the subject of controversy in October, when its longtime organizer cut ties with sponsor the Des Moines Register to start a competing ride.

Waterloo will be one of the first cities to benefit from changes RAGBRAI organizers made in light of that controversy, when director TJ Juskiewicz quit. Anne Lawrie, RAGBRAI senior marketing manager, said each host city will get $15,000 from RAGBRAI this year to help defray the costs of the overnight stays. This is nearly double what host cities have been receiving. In addition, another $10,000 will be given to each "meeting town," which is a pass-through town that is the only official place support crews can meet with the riders.

The competing ride started by Juskiewicz will run from east to west across the state July 12-18. It will begin in Dubuque with overnight stops in Monticello, Vinton, Eldora, Clarion, Emmetsburg, Sheldon and terminate in Rock Rapids.

Nancy Newhoff

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