(Atlantic) -- For the first time in eight years, RAGBRAI is coming to Atlantic.
Des Moines Register officials announced over the weekend that Atlantic is one of the overnight stops on the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa for 2019. After starting in Council Bluffs, thousands of bicycling enthusiasts will stay in Atlantic Sunday night, July 21st before making other stops in Winterset, Indianola, Centerville, Fairfield and Burlington. The 2019 ride ends in Keokuk. Bailey Smith is executive director of the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce. Smith tells KMA News being part of RAGBRAI this year means a lot to the community.
"Atlantic's filled with a lot of really great people," said Smith, "who are filled with a lot of passion for Atlantic. So, we kind of get to show off our town to people from all over the world, and show them what it really means to be from a small rural community in Iowa. We get to show off our great downtown. We get to show off our great parks, and just the people who make RAGBRAI possible."
But, now the real work begins. Smith says work is already underway on establishing RAGBRAI committees.
"We have co-chairs for RAGBRAI," she said, "Kip and Nick Harris. Kip has actually chaired the previous two RAGBRAI visits. So, we're really excited to have him come back to lead the charge. They've already hit the ground running to form a committee. The committee is made up about 20-to-30 community leaders, who then go off and form other committees. They'll be about 20 committees who help make sure RAGBRAI is safe, and fun, and memorable for all of the cyclists that will be possible next year."
Smith says committees will oversee a number of support-related categories associated with hosting RAGBRAI.
"We have a committee that focuses on housing," said Smith. "They set up Tent City, and coordinate with cyclists clubs to make sure all of the cyclists are taken care of. They coordinate with community members who are willing to open up their homes. We have a committee whose sole purpose is to make sure there's enough showers, so that cyclists can take a shower when they get here."
Other committees will coordinate sanitation, entertainment, marketing and food vendors. Then, there's the great need for volunteers.
"We're looking at needing probably around 300 volunteers for the day--the day of," she said. "So, if anyone's interested, and wants to give back, and has some fun, give us a call. We'll add them to the list--we won't turn anyone down."
Smith says an Atlantic RAGBRAI website and separate phone number will be established in the near future. Any Atlantic residents wishing to volunteer can call the chamber at (712) 243-3017.