Here's what to know about the newly announced route of RAGBRAI XLIX: the towns, the mileage and the highlights.
When is RAGBRAI 2022?
The annual Iowa ride will be July 24-30. The 2022 ride across Iowa marks its 49th year.
Where will RAGBRAI 2022 go?
The ride this year takes a northern route, starting in Sergeant Bluff on the Missouri River and ending 430 miles away in Lansing on the Mississippi. There will be 11,900 feet of climb over the seven days of the ride.
Traveling from west to east, cyclists will overnight in Ida Grove, Pocahontas, Emmetsburg, Mason City, Charles City and West Union.
Details on registration: Costs, deadlines and more
Sunday, July 24: Sergeant Bluff to Ida Grove
Feet of climb: 2,637
Day 1 will start and end in the same towns as the first day of RAGBRAI in 2006.
Located off Interstate 29, Sergeant Bluff, population 5,015, is an industrial area of northwest Iowa just down the road from Sioux City's east side — though residents adamantly insist they're not a suburb of their larger neighbor. Over the last 10 years the town's population has grown by about 800, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.
Nestled in the Loess Hills, the city takes its name from Sgt. Charles Floyd, a Kentucky native who was the only member of Lewis and Clark's 1804 expedition to die enroute, succumbing to appendicitis on a nearby bluff over the Missouri River. The Iowa Air National Guard 185th Refueling Wing operates out of Sioux Gateway Airport, just west of the town.
For those who want the authenticity of starting the ride with a tire dip in the Missouri River, it's about a six-mile ride from the center of Sergeant Bluff to Weedland Access, a boat launch. But local ride organizers plan on bringing tubs of river water into town for those who would rather avoid the extra miles.
Between Sergeant Bluff and Ida Grove, riders will observe the annual Mile of Silence to honor Iowa cyclists killed in the last year.
Riders reaching Ida Grove will be greeted by castles. The town isn't trying to keep feuding warlords — or cyclists — out. Byron Godbersen, founder of Ida Grove's Midwest Industries, liked castles and made sure castle-like features such as gates and turrets were incorporated into the designs of buildings around the city of 2,050, including his company's plant.
In addition to serving as an overnight town in 2006, Ida Grove, which bills itself as CastleTown, U.S.A., accommodated riders in 1977 and 1988, incorporating castle themes into its festivities.
Monday, July 25: Ida Grove to Pocahontas
Feet of climb: 1,752
The smallest overnight town on the route, population 1,590, Pocahontas is a first-time RAGBRAI host. It takes its name from the Native American woman, daughter of the Powhatan chief, whose much-romanticized involvement with English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, inspired tall tales, a William Makepeace Thackeray poem and a Disney animated movie.
Riders will encounter a 25-foot-tall depiction of Pocahontas, standing next to a giant teepee in the city's Princess Park, as they pedal into town.
Tuesday, July 26: Pocahontas to Emmetsburg
Feet of climb: 697
When RAGBRAI was last in Emmetsburg in 2014, riders cooled off in 973-acre Five Island Lake on the north edge of town. On another late July visit, it's likely to be a popular spot again. But the town's biggest attraction is the Wild Rose Casino & Resort, a hotel and gaming complex just southeast of the lake.
Emmetsburg, population 3,670, also is home to Iowa Lakes Community College and agriculture and processing companies like Montag Manufacturing and POET Bioprocessing, an ethanol plant.
It's nicknamed "Iowa's Irish Capital" and Dublin is its sister city. Emmetsburg also was an overnight town in 1985, 1993 and 2002.
The ride to Emmetsburg will come in two flavors: pavement or gravel. Riders wanting to brave the dust, ruts and loose stones of the annual gravel ride will have the option of spending all day on the more challenging surface.
Wednesday, July 27: Emmetsburg to Mason City
Feet of climb: 1,367
Poison frontman Bret Michaels isn't likely the kind of "Music Man" Mason City native Meredith Willson had in mind when he penned the 1957 musical, recently revived on Broadway. But in 2014, the last time RAGBRAI passed through town, Michaels rocked the night away for the crowd with a free show sponsored by the city's RAGBRAI committee.
"The sea of people was just amazing," said ride director Matt Phippen, who was then a RAGBRAI rider and volunteer. "When he would stop signing a song the crowd would just pick it up where he left off. The whole city was just moving back and forth. It was so cool."
With a population of 26,659, Mason City, also an overnight town in 1985, is the largest community on this year's route, a contrast to the last three RAGBRAIs, which overnighted in much larger urban areas such as Davenport, Waterloo, Iowa City, Ames and Council Bluffs.
Though hardly a metropolis, Mason City's downtown is home to two microbreweries, Mason City Brewing and Fat Hill Brewing, which hosted since-promoted ride director Dieter Drake's introduction to Iowa cyclists in 2019. That will likely be good news to riders wanting to quench their thirst after the 100-mile day.
Thursday, July 28: Mason City to Charles City
Feet of climb: 1,568
The second-biggest city on the 2022 ride, Charles City weighs in with a population of 7,185. But it has the potential to provide some outsize fun, particularly if the riders arrive on a hot day. It's known for its whitewater course on the Cedar River, which flows through the center of town, and hosts the annual Charles City Challenge kayaking competition. Some paddling, tubing and just plain splashing around will almost certainly be on tap for the sweaty travelers.
Riders also can visit the childhood home of the national women’s rights leader Carrie Chapman Catt, which is 3 miles southeast of Charles City. The city has had a lot of experience hosting RAGBRAI, serving as an overnight town in 1982, 1996, 2002, 2010, and 2017.
Friday, July 29: Charles City to West Union
Feet of climb: 1,730
West Union has spruced itself up since its last turn as an overnight host in 2005. The seat of Fayette County, population 2,291, completed a downtown green street project in 2011 that provided new roads and sidewalks with permeable pavers to allow stormwater runoff.
Speaking of water, West Union — also an overnight town in 1987 — has a municipal water park for those who didn't get hydrated enough in Charles City. And Volga River State Recreation Area is nearby.
Saturday, July 30: West Union to Lansing
Feet of Climb: 2,652
The final day brings a ride through some of Iowa's finest scenery: the rugged karst topography of the state's slice of the Driftless Area. It also will be strenuous, with the most feet of climb for any day of the route. Fortunately, there will be plenty of descent, too, as the ride rolls down to the Mississippi River community of Lansing.
The town of just 968 is known as a great fishing spot and even hosts a Fish Days festival in August. Its aquatic abundance is a major reason for another Lansing superlative: It sits amid the largest concentration of nesting bald eagles in North America. It also is a major stopover for migrating birds — tundra swans, pelicans, other waterfowl and various raptors.
An ending point for the ride in 1977 and 2017, Lansing also is known for feeding humans. After dipping their tires in the river, early arrivers may want to tuck into breakfast at Nutmeg's Cafe & Bakery, and there are several other dining establishments throughout the compact and historic downtown.
But before you tuck in for a meal, you may want to honor a local tradition, capping off your seven-day, cross-state ride with a final pedal up the steep slopes of Mt. Hosmer. From the top of the 450-foot-tall bluff overlooking the town and river, you can look back toward Sergeant Bluff and think about just how far you've come — and start planning for next year's ride.
How much does it cost to ride RAGBRAI?
Weeklong registration for RAGBRAI XLIX costs $175 and is still open at ragbrai.com. Single-day registration also is open and costs $35. RAGBRAI for 2022 has eliminated its lottery system and made registration first-come first-served.
Philip Joens covers RAGBRAI and breaking news for the Register. He has ridden parts of 16 RAGBRAIs and completed the river-to-river trek five times. He can be reached at 515-443-3347 at email@example.com or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the national women's rights leader whose childhood home is near Charles City.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: RAGBRAI 2022 route: Here's details for overnight towns, daily mileage