RAGBRAI went ‘better than expected’ says Ames officials


Mikinna Kerns/Iowa State Daily

RAGBRAI Participants gather at Jack Trice Stadium in order to be the first cyclists to ride the Cyclone Loop June 5. This loop will become a tradition in coming RAGBRAI races and consists of a lap around the inside of Jack Trice Stadium.

Devyn Leeson

City of Ames officials said there were few problems associated with RAGBRAI as more than 20,000 cyclists and their support staff entered, and exited, Ames on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It went better than we had expected,” said Susan Gwiasda, public relations officer for the City of Ames. “All of the months of planning and identifying challenges paid off with a very safe, very smooth day. “

Gwiasda explained there was some minor irritation about delays, but those were to be expected.

“We expected there to be more confusion with the closed streets,” Gwiasda said. “We thought there would be more issues with people being irritated about delays, but people seemed to be very aware of what had happened.”

While most things went well, there were some issues throughout the day regarding the confusion of RAGBRAI participants. Where people could dump liquids from their RV or where people could access water were two questions Gwiasda said were common.

People also needed help traversing Ames. Whether it was finding food, hardware stores or convenience stores, volunteers with maps were readily available to assist those who needed it.

According to Julie Weeks of the Conventions and Visitors Bureau (CVB), there were 1,100 volunteer shifts. One shift constituted two-to-three hours of work, and many people did more than one shift.

These volunteers helped with directing traffic, providing medical assistance, giving directions and more.

“I think we really pulled out the red carpet and showed how gracious and welcoming Ames can be,” Gwiasda said in reference to the work done by volunteers. “The huge volunteer effort from the community made it all possible”

Using the last time RAGBRAI rolled through Ames in 2008 as experience, Gwiasda said the city was able to improve.

“We made improvements from the 2008 experience,” Gwiasda said. “This year, the University wanted to play a larger role in the route and so the route was reconfigured. In doing so, we also looked for a route that would inconvenience the least amount of people.”

Gwiasda said Mortensen was a great road to use to mitigate the number of people affected, and looking at 2008 as a case study was a good way to make a more “strategic route.”

Other departments, like the Ames Police Department, said RAGBRAI had few issues associated with it.

“It went about as expected,” said Commander Geoff Huff of the Ames Police Department. “The average age of a RAGBRAI rider is in their mid 40’s, so you would hope that you wouldn’t have a lot of shenanigans going on in that kind of age group. People were really well behaved, they appreciated all of the work the university, city and CVB put into it.”

While the police can’t track the exact number of arrests that were directly related to RAGBRAI, there were three public intoxication violations Huff said could have been related to RAGBRAI. Two of them happened where the nightly festivities were happening and another arrest was made on Stanton Avenue.

“Two of the arrests happened in the downtown area where everything was happening,” Huff said. “The other one was way out west, but that could have still been related because the bikers were all over the place.”

Huff said there were not problems associated with bike thefts either. However, there was an incident where one bike was returned after being found in a front yard from where it had not been left by the owner and another incident where a bike had been locked to a fence in downtown and was later found around 11:30 p.m.