Friday, July 29, 2011

RAGBRAI Stops in Coralville

 An Iowa tradition, the Des Moines Register Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) is finishing up another event. The bike ride starts in the western part of Iowa, dipping their back tires in the Missouri River, and finishes on the eastern side of the state, dipping their front tires in the Mississippi River. It is a week long event running Sunday through Saturday with stops along the way. Each town on the route turns out in different ways offering bikers food, drink and entertainment. The overnight stop typically ends in one of the state's larger communities offering the riders showers, entertainment and an area to camp or homes to house riders.

Typically the final night is the last opportunity for riders to celebrate the long journey. This year that stop was Coralville. Coralville isn't necessarily the home to the University of Iowa Athletics, but Kinnick Stadium, home to Iowa Football can be seen from many of the different areas of town. To give a riders of sense of what it is like to be in Kinnick Stadium, the town built a mini-replica of the historic field on the 8th Street, the final leg of the day's journey.
 The trip from Grinnell to Coralville was dubbed as College Spirit Day. Riders were encouraged to wear bike jerseys featuring the colors of their favorite teams. Many schools were represented. Iowa, Iowa State, Grinnell, Wisconsin, Michigan, Duke, Coe, Simpson to name a few. And on the way into town, riders rode down a street lined with placards of all Division I teams in the country as well as every college and university in the state. Stands were set up adjacent to the central park in town where the Universities passed out or sold different articles of their school. Drake stood out among the schools with the largest inflatable mascot, Spike. They also handed out knapsacks to everyone who stopped by, and those could be seen all over the City of Coralville.
Then fans and riders came out to support their favorite mascot in different races throughout the park. Above Spike and Herky competed in the three-legged race as Cy watched on. TC the Panther as well as the Upper Iowa Peacock also competed.

Media from the area went live for their news at the park hosting RAGBRAI. All three local tv stations as well as many local radio stations set up shop with reports. The Des Moines Register also had their own stand selling many RAGBRAI articles of clothing and other momentos of the trip.
Jeff Kennedy, Tara Thomas and Ron Steele of KWWL
The night ended with a concert by 38 Special. The parking lot of the Coralville Library was turned into a giant beer garden with a stage at the end. A solid two hour show for all of the riders and local residents was a great way to cap the evening.

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