For the first time since 2018, Davenport will again be the end point for the golden anniversary of RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), July 29, 2023, like it was in its very first year in 1973.
Visit Quad Cities President and CEO Dave Herrell, along with staff members; Davenport Mayor Mike Matson, and Downtown Davenport Partnership executive director Kyle Carter attended the official route announcement event Saturday night (Jan. 28) in Des Moines at the Iowa Events Center.
RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. This rolling celebration of Iowa attracts participants from all 50 states and many foreign countries. The ride will begin on July 22 on the west side of the state at the Missouri River.
“RAGBRAI is one of the most unique events in the world and we are elated to be a part of the experience,” Dave Herrell of Visit Quad Cities said Saturday. “The Quad Cities is known as a community of firsts and we are proud that we helped start this tradition in 1973 and that we can celebrate, congratulate, and welcome riders to Davenport and the QC for the 50th anniversary. The tradition and culture of RAGBRAI is special and we are incredibly grateful for the confidence that the event organizers have in us to serve as host.”
“Events like RAGBRAI are huge for tourism, brand image, and talent attraction,” he added. “We will absolutely roll out the gold carpet for the participants as we showcase why Davenport, and the Quad Cities regional destination is best in class.
“This will be an amazing summer for big events and a great week for the region with the 49th Quad-City Times Bix 7 and the 50th RAGBRAI culminating on July 29, 2023,” Herrell said, noting the 49th running of the Bix 7 race also kicks off July 29 at 8 a.m. in downtown Davenport.
“On behalf of the Visit Quad Cities Board of Directors and team, we look forward to working closely with the many partners and stakeholders required to make this a memorable opportunity. This is a community-wide team effort, and we will deliver.”
The first RAGBRAI was organized by Register writers John Karras and Don Kaul. It started in Sioux City and ended in Davenport. The purpose of the ride for Karras and Kaul was to ride their bicycles across Iowa and write columns as they traveled.
Friends and bicycle enthusiasts joined the two Register writers for that first ride in 1973; 114 riders made the entire trip across Iowa.
Now in its 50th year, this will be the sixth time for Davenport to be named as the end town where riders will dip their tires in the Mississippi River. Most recently, it was hosted here in 2011, 2015, and 2018.
Having two world-class signature events happening on the same day again in the Quad Cities brings positive attention to the value of sports tourism in our regional destination, Visit Quad Cities said in the Saturday release.
“Davenport is honored to be selected as part of the RAGBRAI 50th anniversary route,” Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said. “We look forward to working with RAGBRAI, Visit Quad Cities and many others on this wonderful, historic event.”
This year’s ride has a total mileage of 500 miles and a total climb of 16,549 feet. It will be the sixth longest RAGBRAI in history and the sixth highest feet of climb. The deadline to register for RAGBRAI ends on May 15. You can register online at the RAGBRAI website HERE.
“Dipping tires on the banks of the mighty Mississippi in downtown Davenport is a fitting way to celebrate those who blazed the trail on this ground 50 years ago,” said Kyle Carter, executive director of Downtown Davenport Partnership.
“We’re honored to host not one, but two iconic Iowa events as RAGBRAI and the Quad-City Times Bix 7 converge for a party that will also be one for the history books,” he said. “The Quad Cities are eager to welcome people from all corners of the world to celebrate this historic milestone!”
Since its inception RAGBRAI has hosted more than 420,000 riders from across the world and visited all 99 counties in Iowa.
Further information about RAGBRAI arriving in Davenport for riders and Quad Citizens will be found at www.davenportragbrai.com as this website will continue to be developed.
About 15,000 registered riders, with participants from all 50 states and a host of international locations, descend on Iowa every year to be part of the “oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world.”
Started in 1973 by Des Moines Register reporters John Karras and Donald Kaul, RAGBRAI is a bicycle tour that goes from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River with stops in overnight towns along the way. One of the largest tourism events in the country, a 2008 study by the University of Northern Iowa estimates RAGBRAI’s economic impact between $24 million to $25 million for the weeklong ride.
You can watch the RAGBRAI 50 route announcement HERE.