Ames and Iowa State rolled out the red carpet for RAGBRAI riders yesterday. It was a sight to behold: Cyclists in Jack Trice Stadium, cyclists downtown, cyclists all over the city of Ames. And this morning, they all left.

Ames was one of seven overnight towns for RAGBRAI 2018. The city’s theme was “Cycling Power” – a takeoff of Iowa State’s “Cyclone Power” signature athletics chant.


I spent some time in the stadium area yesterday. The Alumni Association had a tent (that’s some of our group, above, posing for a group photo at the Alumni Center), and we interacted with a lot of folks – mainly Iowa State grads, but not all.


We asked trivia questions, gave out prizes, and encouraged riders to mark where they lived on our “Cyclones Everywhere” map of the U.S. I met people from California and Idaho and Texas and even as far away as Ukraine.


Coming in to Ames from the south, most cyclists rode the Cyclone Loop through Jack Trice Stadium, something that’s apparently never been done before. The people I talked to said it was really cool.


Once they came out of the stadium they were greeted by Iowa State groups who’d set up tents filled with information and giveaways. Food vendors were also on hand, and spirit rallies were held hourly during the afternoon. It was great to see so much Cardinal & Gold but to also see teams decked out in balloons and flamingoes and other costumes.




After work, I drove through some Ames neighborhoods and was amazed at the sheer number of support vehicles and tent campers in residents’ yards. It was like a city-wide camping spree.



The main activity was downtown. Three stages were set up, with musical acts on each stage from 4 p.m. until around midnight. I was there for an hour or so, long enough to drink a beer, eat a crepe, and listen to some music. There were a ton of people there.


I also went north to the NPR RAGBRAI Team event at Alluvial Brewing Company (above). I always listen to NPR when I’m in the car, and the voices on the radio seem like good friends by now. So it was pretty awesome to get to meet White House reporter Scott Horsley (below) and see other members of the NPR team – including national political correspondent Don Gonyea – and folks like Clay Masters from Iowa Public Radio. I may have geeked out a little bit.


My own little neighborhood was full of bikes and support vehicles and tents last night. I think there were at least four houses where RAGBRAI-ers were camping, including mine. We had three guys in our backyard, and it was fun to talk to them about their experiences. They seemed to appreciate the hot shower and our clothes dryer, and they even played with our cats.

Even though I don’t ride a bike, I feel like I’ve spent the last month obsessing over RAGBRAI, so it’s sort of sad that it’s over. Well, at least it’s over in Ames – riders still have four more days to go!




2 comments so far

  1. Michael on

    I’m glad you made it to IPR’s event! I work there and rode RAGBRAI, but my schedule didn’t work out for me to attend. Side note that I thought Ames was a fantastic overnight city. Super-clear signs, volunteers, and a smart route through the city. It was a highlight. Downtown events were fun, too.

  2. mileland on

    Glad you got to the IPR event. I work there and rode RAGBRAI, but my schedule didn’t work out for me to get up to the brewery. Also, I thought Ames did a great job with RAGBRAI — great and numerous volunteers, super clear signs, a smart road route for cyclists. Fun evening downtown, too. Ames was a highlight!

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