The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 28, 2013

Osky prepares for pack of pedalers

OSKALOOSA — Oskaloosa will double its population in one day.

On July 25, around 12,000 cyclists will cycle 52 miles from Knoxville to Oskaloosa as they wind their way through a nearly 500-mile journey across Iowa during RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, which is entering its 41st year this summer.

Cyclists will camp out for the night in Oskaloosa before zooming to Fairfield the next day. Oskaloosa was chosen for an overnight stay for the fourth time since the bike ride's inception.

While this isn't Oskaloosa's first time hosting RAGBRAI, a decade has passed since the town's last overnight stay. The town's biggest obstacle this time around was planning for the slew of campers and RVs that will roll in behind the cyclists.

"When we had them here in 2003, there were 45 RVs we had to deal with," said Jon Sullivan, director of the Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group. "Now there are 600. So the dynamics of how we're putting this together have absolutely changed."

Cyclists will be spread throughout the city at different locations: Edmundson Park, Southern Iowa Fairgrounds, the Oskaloosa Elementary School, Lacey Recreation Complex, First Church of the Nazarene, Oskaloosa High School and William Penn University.

There are also only 150 electrical camper hook-ups available, so they'll be snatched up on a first-come, first-served basis, he said. But he's not worried about the remaining campers.

"Most have their own generators, so it's not a real big issue," he said. "What we're finding is the more fluent riders now are wanting to have someone drive a vehicle for them because they want to sleep in the same place every night. They'd rather sleep in a camper than on a floor or in a garage, under a tent, whatever. We're getting more sophisticated riders, and that's their preference."

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