Ames police gear up for RAGBRAI


Photo: Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily

Bikers make their way to the final turn of the 2013 RAGBRAI in Fort Madison on July 27, 2013.

Tyrus Pavicich

RAGBRAI is coming to Ames on July 24, and the Ames Police Department is preparing to manage the overnight influx of cyclists.

The annual seven-day bicycle ride across Iowa has selected Ames as an overnight town for this year’s route, which means the city will need to host upwards of 10,000 riders until they depart in the morning. Participants will have the opportunity to camp in Brookside Park, northeast of campus.

Although the route has not yet been officially confirmed, Cmdr. Geoff Huff of the Ames Police said they expect riders to take South Dakota Avenue north to Mortensen Road, which they will then follow east to Beach Avenue before heading north to South 4th Street, which will be closed to traffic in order to serve as a landing zone for cyclists.

“We’ll be utilizing extra officers and other volunteers to man traffic posts as they come into town,” Huff said. “We’ve got a few intersections we have to cover, but it’s pretty manageable as compared to 10 years ago, when they came down Ontario — that was a major headache.”

When RAGBRAI came through Ames in 2008, the route covered the entirety of Welch Road after cutting straight through the heart of Iowa State’s campus via Morrill Road.

The precession of cyclists across Lincoln Way wreaked havoc on Ames’ traffic, something route organizers seem to have considered while planning the 2018 path, which stays south of campus.

After participants reach the day’s stopping point, entertainment activities and events will be available in downtown Ames, within walking distance of the designated campsite. 

Huff noted the importance of that proximity for riders, who will have to ride for nearly 60 miles before arriving in town. It’s important to note, however, that plans for the event have yet to be finalized.

“We don’t really know what the entertainment is going to be yet — everything is sort of still in the planning stages — so depending on what they come up with that’s going to kind of dictate to us what we need as far as resources go,” Huff said. 

Ames Police don’t seem to be to worried about the challenge of hosting an event of RAGBRAI’s scale, explaining Ames will be the stopping point for the third day of the event and so riders will ultimately just want to relax on their arrival.

In regard to how the department is approaching the event, Huff explained: “For us it’s going to be like a big football-game weekend. We’ve got Iowa State, we’ve got Story County, state patrol and ourselves, you know. Most likely we’ll be able to handle what it is.”