DES MOINES, Iowa–Thousands of riders will hit the road on Sunday for the start of a week-long ride across Iowa.
RAGBRAI is an Iowa institution, but it’s also created a bicycling movement for Iowans.
“I think RAGBRAI is one of the most single things in Iowa that has made cycling popular and has driven the bike trail movement here,” says Wade Franck with Kyle’s Bikes in Ankeny.
Franck says RAGBRAI gets people interested in cycling and the state’s massive trail systems allow that curiosity to grow.
“Who would have thought Iowa would have become a hot bed of cycling in July,” says Franck.
Several out of town cyclists are stopping by Kyle’s to get their bikes tuned up and say RAGBRAI has quite a big reputation.
“I go to the bicycling shops in Texas and they`re like you`re doing RAGBRAI, wow that`s awesome! They’ve heard of it down there for sure,” says Diane Brown from Fort Worth, Texas.
Brown is riding with her family and says she loves coming to Iowa because of the trails.
“They`re smooth where I’m riding is literally in the gutters. Texas is a trashy state people litter a lot so you`re riding over glass, nails and pop cans,” says Brown.
There are 8,000 miles of trails throughout the state, 700 miles alone in Central Iowa.
“You can be downtown Des Moines and take a trail all the way up Ames all the way out to West Des Moines up to Perry and Woodward, so you can really get about anywhere by trail,” says Andrea Chase with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.
Chase helped develop a new bike app called “Iowa By Trail.’ The app allows cyclists to experience all there is to offer on Iowa’s trails.
“You can see trail maps of everything that we have here in Central Iowa, you can find points of interest along the way, places to stop, eat, parks, bed and breakfasts and restaurants, any type of resource or hidden gem,” says Chase.
The app will be expanding this week to include trails throughout the state, and a RAGBRAI route as well.
The free Iowa By Trails app is also interactive and allows the cyclist to mark spots of interest for other riders like a eagles nest or a waterfall along the trail.
More information on the app and Iowa’s trail systems can be found by clicking here.