Like many great things, Iowa’s Ride was born from a schism.
In 2019, a man named Carson King held a sign in the background of ESPN’s College GameDay during an Iowa-Iowa State game simply stating “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished,” with a link to his Venmo handle below.
Donations for the thirsty gentleman started pouring in, and after he realized he had more than enough for the brews he required, he announced the rest would be donated to the University of Iowa’s children hospital.
In no time at all, King racked up over $1 million in donations, becoming an internet legend and Iowa sensation in the process.
But a story published by the Des Moines Register soon cast a dark cloud over the whole affair.
A Register reporter dug back through nearly a decade of King’s social media posts and uncovered that King had tweeted offensive jokes when he was 16. This fact was added to the story, prompting an apology from King and a tidal wave of outrage directed at the Register from across the county.
Following the debacle, the Register reporter was fired and Anheuser-Busch cut all ties with King.
When the staff at RAGBRAI, which stands for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, began getting questions about the whole affair, staff claimed the Register was restricting what they were allowed to say. Staff said RAGBRAI riders were furious with the Register’s handling of the story, with many saying they were planning to skip the ride altogether.
Feeling their hands were unjustly tied by the higher-ups, the staff resigned in protest and created Iowa’s Ride.
Originally, the inaugural Iowa’s Ride was slated to occur during the same week as RAGBRAI, but after hearing from cycling teams throughout the state, the dates were changed to July 12-18.
“The most overwhelming concern that keeps coming up is the date of the event and how it is dividing long-standing cycling teams,” the Iowa’s Ride website reads. “We have even heard from teams trying to decide who gets the team bus for the week. This was never our intent, and this is not good for anyone who just wants to ride their bike.”
Iowa’s Ride is being billed as “the ultimate cycling experience,” which includes a seven-day trek where riders can be immersed in the beauty and hospitality offered by the great State of Iowa.
While the specific road route won’t be announced until later this spring, the overnight stops have already been made public. In chronological order, host towns include Dubuque, Monticello, Vinton, Eldora, Clarion, Emmetsburg, Sheldon and Rock Rapids.
According to its website, registered participants will be granted access to campground, bathrooms and showers, entertainment throughout the day and downtown street celebrations at night, baggage transportation, medical teams on the route each day, traffic control at high-traffic areas and much more.
With early-bird pricing lasting until Jan. 31, a week-long youth registration runs $100 and adults $150, a week-long non-rider $30, vehicle passes $25 and daily passes are $25-per-day. They also stress there is no lottery system and that all proceeds go to Iowa charities. More information on refunds can also be found on the website.
The proposed distances for day rides are substantial, something Iowa’s Ride Director TJ Juskiewicz said should be taken into account before signing on to hit the road.
“Anytime you’re going to tackle a ride that’s more than 50 miles, that shouldn’t be your first time out,” Juskiewicz said. “Then again, you don’t need to be an elite cyclist by any means, but you should have group rides that are fairly close to that 50-mile range if you plan to just go for the day.”
He anticipates the Sunday kickoff ride from Dubuque-to-Monticello will be very popular among day-riders.
Before making the commitment, he said it’s important to analyze several key factors to ensure an enjoyable ride — having appropriate and reliable equipment, the proper frame of body and mind and even maintaining a healthy diet before and during the ride, just to name a few.
With a staggering amount of advice available online being occasionally difficult to navigate, Juskiewicz suggests going to the most interactive source of information — experienced local riders.
“We’re going to put out a lot of training tips beforehand, just little snippets of information that people can follow if they’re curious about how to prepare for a ride like this, but probably the best advice I can give is to talk to the local clubs,” he said. “And nothing replaces getting out and getting in the saddle, you can’t go down in the basement and get on a trainer or go out by yourself on a trail and try to simulate that.”
Juskiewicz said there will be more of an emphasis on keeping everything local when cruising through communities.
“If we’re heading into a town, we want the winners to be the local merchants — we don’t want it to be street vendors or different things like that that are taking that ‘bang’ that community deserves,” he said. “We want (riders) to be eating at the local coffee shops and restaurants and things like that, that’s the impact we’re shooting for, making it all about experiencing the local communities.”
Aside from eating and maybe some light shopping, visiting historical sites and other important local landmarks will also be a priority.
Even though there is plenty of work to be done before the tires hit the road this summer, Juskiewicz said they are already seeing an enthusiastic response from riders who want to be a part of this new adventure.
“We’ve got a lot of people already registered. I was just looking the other day and we’ve already got people from 27 states that are already registered and it’s still extremely early,” he said, adding that they also have registrants from three different countries as well.
For more detail information and announcements, visit https://iowasride.com/.