If you're curious about the 2012 routes for RAGBRAI XL (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) or BAK (Biking Across Kansas), then you've been waiting for this weekend.
Organizers of both popular across-state bicycle tours announced their routes, a combined 946 miles of bicycling for anyone lucky enough to do both.
Between the two, the tours have 77 years of experience ushering bicyclists across their states in hot summer sun, thunder showers, and occasional windstorms — all the while ensuring the cyclists can consume copious quantities of pie.
This is the 40th anniversary of RAGBRAI (July 22-28), a mass bicycle tour of 10,000 people. Perhaps to celebrate the occasion, the ride will be among the least challenging.
The route is 471.1 miles long, about medium length in the bicycle tour's history. With total elevation gain of 16,125 feet, it's the event's 11th flattest route.
RAGBRAI follows a west to east route this year, starting in Sioux Center and ending in Clinton, a river town on the Mississippi. Overnight host towns along the route are Cherokee, Lake View, Webster City, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, and Anamosa.
The most difficult day will no doubt be the fifth, from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids. It's the hilliest, at 3,576 feet, and the longest, at 84.8 miles.
Saturday's announcement of the host cities was eagerly awaited, as
organizers report a study from the University of Iowa estimates the
grand tour brings $24 million in new spending to the state.
Biking Across Kansas
Biking Across Kansas has been going strong nearly as long as RAGBRAI, getting its start in 1975, although with fewer people.
The organizers cap the ride at a manageable 800 cyclists.
As is usual, BAK rolls out from west to east from June 9-16 to take advantage of the prevailing winds. Cyclists will gather in Sharon Springs and head across northern Kansas and the host towns of Oakley, Hoxie, Logan, Downs, Clyde, and Centralia. The final gathering is in Troy, after the group rides to the state border in Elwood.
[Organizers posted a detailed BAK route map on GoogleMaps.]
My son and I rode BAK in 2011, and I can't say enough good things about it. The towns along the route — not just the host towns — offer lots of hospitality, and the onslaught of bicyclists isn't so large that it overwhelms the character of the communities.
Either way, registration is still open for both. Because of its popularity, RAGBRAI registration is a lottery; online registration for the lottery ends April 1. Lottery results are posted May 1.
Biking Across Kansas registration is first-come first-served.
There are many other across-state and multi-day bike tours offers throughout the US. Check the state-by-state index.