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Cross-state Iowa bike ride route to come close to Albert Lea area

The granddaddy of cross-state bicycle rides will trek across northern Iowa this year and come close to the Albert Lea area.

The 10,000 bicyclists on the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa stop July 22 to stay overnight in the Winnebago County seat of Forest City and on July 23 in Mason City. It is the fourth time Forest City has hosted the ride and only the second time for Mason City.

The Des Moines Register announced the overnight cities last month. The specific route is not released until early March. The distance from Forest City to Mason City is 32 miles; however, a day of riding on RAGBRAI generally is between 50 and 90 miles, so if organizers take a northerly route for July 23, it could come even closer to Albert Lea.

Spandex-clad RAGBRAI riders can turn a place like Vinje, Iowa — with just a church and a bar — into one happening town. That is, if the route goes through.

The 418-mile route starts in Rock Valley, about eight miles from Iowa’s border with South Dakota, and ends at the Mississippi River in Guttenberg.

RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz told the Des Moines Register that the northern route goes back to the ride’s small-town roots after 2013 stops in Council Bluffs and Des Moines and a 2012 visit to Cedar Rapids.

“There are no massive towns,” Juskiewicz said. “We’re getting back to smaller communities, which are the perfect size for RAGBRAI.”

Only Mason City has a population over 10,000. It has been 29 years since the ride visited the River City.

It is the third shortest and second flattest route in the RAGBRAI’s 42 years.

Cities on RAGBRAI

Rock Valley July 19

Okoboji July 20

Emmetsburg July 21

Forest City July 22

Mason City July 23

Waverly July 24

Independence July 25

Guttenberg July 26

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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