Fairfield officials announce full RAGBRAI route
By ANDY HALLMAN
Golden Triangle News Service
FAIRFIELD — RAGBRAI officials announced Sunday the full route for the annual bike ride, which will make an overnight stop in Fairfield while also passing through other local towns.
The cyclists will enter Fairfield from Brookville Road, after traveling through Packwood on V63. RAGBRAI routes tend to avoid major highways, but the riders will be on one for a brief time when they travel along Highway 78 through Hedrick and Martinsburg.
After the cyclists spend a night enjoying Fairfield’s amenities, they will head south on Highway 1, which will take them through Birmingham and Keosauqua. From Keosauqua they will take J40 east through Bentonsport and Bonaparte before leaving Van Buren County for the final stop, Ft. Madison.
Terry Baker, one of the co-secretaries of Fairfield’s RAGBRAI Executive Committee, said she is happy with the route RAGBRAI chose to enter and exit the city.
“That’s the route we expected them to go with,” she said. “Police Chief Julie Harvey has been working with RAGBRAI officials to give them details on different parts of the route. RAGBRAI decided that this route will be the best for dispersing the riders to various campgrounds and entertainment in town.”
Baker said RAGBRAI officials have to strike a balance between two objectives: keeping the riders off major highways while also giving them decent roads.
“The RAGBRAI officials have been working on routes since the announcement was made,” Baker said. “You have to connect two dots but the best way is not always a straight line. I think the riders are going to have a scenic route.”
“Some riders will take little detours,” Baker continued. “I know riders will head to Eldon to go to the American Gothic House. Since it’s a shorter ride this time, there will be more time to do that kind of thing.”
The announcement of the beginning, ending and stopover cities on the route was made Jan. 26.
Baker said the executive committee is still discussing how to manage the riders once they enter Fairfield on Brookville Road.
The 2013 route into Fairfield will be different from the route the cyclists took the last time they came through in 1997. That year, the cyclists biked around the city and came in on Glasgow Road in the southeast part of town.
Baker said the reason for the change has to do with RAGBRAI officials seeking a short route and because they wanted to go through different towns than in 1997.
“They wanted to hit different communities this time and especially large communities,” she said. “The riders will be in Des Moines for the first time since the route went through Fairfield.”
Baker said many RAGBRAI riders come from outside the state or even outside the country. Part of the fun of RAGBRAI is showcasing to those visitors what the state has to offer, and Baker said the RAGBRAI committee wanted to showcase large cities this time.
That said, riders will still have ample opportunity to visit the state’s small towns along the way.
“Those communities like Packwood have a great time providing snacks and water to the riders,” Baker said. “It’s a way for those towns to show off what they have as well.”
The Fairfield RAGBRAI executive committee will announce the city’s RAGBRAI “theme” today (Wed.). The theme will allow residents to know how to decorate their homes and yards in preparation for the thousands of cyclists who will come to town July 26.