COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- Participants in the 47th edition of the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) began to gather in Council Bluffs on Saturday.
Tents by the thousands were pitched around the Mid-America Center.
“I’ve heard about it for years, and it’s one of the longest-running rides. I always wanted to do it,” said Joe Masser of High Bridge, New Jersey. “We got some shade and a little bit of breeze, so no problems this year.”
But with inclement weather in the forecast, some visitors are concerned about Midwest tornadoes. Riders will have to fight through some isolated storms during the first leg. RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz said they do everything they can to be prepared.
"When we’re in a major town like this with plenty of shelters that are very close by, it’s logistically a little bit easier. The town here has been great. We work with the Emergency Management Association to make sure that we’ve got everything covered if we do get that inclement weather," said Juskiewicz.
Coping with the heat was another concern Saturday, with temperatures in the 90s. At the RAGBRAI vendor expo, the ice shavings were a popular item for people wanting to cool down.
“It’s obviously going to be a hot one today, but the good news is I think the weather is supposed to break fairly early or later in the week," said Juskiewicz.
Indeed, it is good news for riders. Temperatures are expected to cool down the rest of the week.
Riders will begin the 427-mile journey to Keokuk early Sunday morning. They will visit Avoca and Walnut before the first overnight stop in Atlantic.