A Route that Defines

The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.


Each year, thousands of bikers make their way across Iowa. They battle hills, wind, rain and the occasional bump-in-the-road for seven consecutive days at the end of July.

Megan Oliver and her family are just a few of those thousand riders. Six years ago, Megan decided to hop on the two-wheeled bandwagon and participate with her family.

“I remember reading about it in fifth grade and my brother talked about it a lot, and it sounded really cool. My brother knew for sure that he wanted to do it and eventually recruited my mom so I thought, ‘Well heck, I’ll go!'”

This year, the route will cover 428.1 miles and will climb a total of 12,576 feet. Towns included in the route are Onawa, Denison, Jefferson, Ames, Newton, Sigourney, Iowa City and Davenport.

Because not everyone rides 428 miles in a week, training for the race is suggested.

“Since I’ve started, I try to ride 100 miles before we go in. But even that is not nearly enough, but it’s some. A lot of the ride is just powering through. You’re going to be sore every day.”

While biking across Iowa, the riders get to experience little gems right under our noses, in our very own state.

“I love seeing all the new places. New towns I’ve never been to, meeting new people, it’s just a really cool experience, a whole lot of fun.”

The dates for this year’s race are Saturday, July 21st, through Saturday, July 28th. Or, as Megan’s countdown shows, 171 days until the start in Onawa.

“You go at your own pace and just enjoy yourself across the state of Iowa.”

Although it’s a week full of competitive nature and intense exercise, Megan and her family don’t look at it as a race to win, but time to spend together as a family.

“It’s a party on two wheels! In a responsible sense, you’re partying all across the state of Iowa. People talk about Iowa nice and that’s so true on RAGBRAI. We even have this joke that you could leave $5 on your bike seat, go walk around the town, come back and your $5 would still be there. It just embodies what Iowa’s all about.”


I think we often take for granted just how great our little state is. If you’ve never experienced “Iowa Nice,” let me tell you, it’s a real thing. There’s just something about the people of the Midwest that’s different from the people of other areas of the nation.

So why not take a 400 mile ride across our great state to see what it has to offer? It might be a challenge, but anything worth doing is challenging. Why not see what Iowa’s all about from the seat of a two-wheeled bike?

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