This year’s RAGBRAI route includes six pass-through towns that have never before participated in the annual, week-long bike ride across Iowa. Those communities are Thornton, Lawler, Castalia, Postville, Waterville and Harpers Ferry.
Lawler city council member John Ezer says he's excited that more than 10,000 RAGBRAI riders are biking through to his northeastern Iowa town on Thursday. Ezer calls it an opportunity for his community of fewer than 420 people to show off their businesses and nonprofits.
"Our main goal is that when they leave Lawler, they remember Lawler," he says. "They remember the time they had, they remember what shape the town was in, and yes, we would love to, you know, people come back and keep us in mind."
Thornton City Clerk Michelle Duff is also eagerly anticipating RAGBRAI, which comes to her community on Wednesday. She says she's looking forward to having so many people from around county and the world visit her town of fewer than 430 people.
"It will be interesting to watch people from all over," she says. "We had the opportunity to have some farmers and our local co-op volunteer some farm equipment that they're going to have placed on the former schools grounds. So that will be there for viewing, or to go up and look inside farm equipment that a lot of people that even know what they are."
This year is the also the first time Waukon and Orange City will serve as overnight towns for the ride. Bikers camp in parks each night in towns along the route.
Waukon was a pass-through town in 1977. Orange City has been a pass-through town in 1975, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2005 and 2012.
This is the bike ride's 45th year.