Area officials excited for Coralville to be RAGBRAI stop


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On July 29, thousands of bicyclists, vendors, volunteers, and onlookers will crowd the streets of Coralville for the 39th Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa — RAGBRAI XXXIX.

Ride organizers selected Coralville as one of the eight host communities — which means riders and their support crews will eat, sleep, and party for one night in the city.

Each host city is responsible for creating a theme, and though many details of the event are still in the works, committee officials are planning a “tailgating” theme to celebrate the Hawkeye community. RAGBRAI riders and spectators alike will be encouraged to wear their college jerseys and show school pride.

“UCLA, Texas, Boise State … we think that would be a lot of fun and create some good-natured ribbing,” said Josh Schamberger, president of Iowa City-Coralville Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “It would make for a cool discussion as you’re riding along the route.”

This is Coralville’s fourth time to host RAGBRAI. The last time was in 2006, when 20,000 bicycles traveled down Melrose Avenue and ended their trek in Muscatine.

Planning for the event takes a lot of work, divided among about 20 committees and around 350 volunteers, but previous experience has turned the process into “a well-oiled machine,” Schamberger said.

“We’re anxious to put on a good show … we get the opportunity to add some flair to the planning and tailor it towards our community,” he said. “It’s a pretty cool way to bring the community together and bond between now and July.”

According to local hotels, booking for July 29 has already begun.

“The [RAGBRAI] dates came out last night, and by this morning, we had sold out half of our rooms for that day,” said Jenna Smalley, a guest service agent for the Coralville Holiday Inn. She said she has been booking reservations from locations as far away as Maryland, California, and Georgia.

The process RAGBRAI officials go through each year to select the cities from 150 applicants and create a new route is a challenge, said RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz.

But Coralville’s history with RAGBRAI stood out.

“It’s a great town; the riders have had a great time every time they’ve gone through in the past,” he said. “They have great facilities, and their volunteers and officials always put in a lot of effort. The leadership is wonderful … and everyone has been so gracious every time we’ve been.”

Coralville City Councilor Tom Gill said the implications of thousands of people coming through the area are entirely positive.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for Coralville,” he said. “It’s an income producer. Iowa City and the whole area benefit. It fills hotels, motels, and restaurants. It’s about more than just spandex, it’s an economy boost.”

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