OTTUMWA — This year’s RAGBRAI route doesn’t come through Wapello County, but people driving later this week in southeast Iowa should still be careful on back roads.
Two area communities are playing host overnight to the state’s biggest ride. Centerville is Wednesday night’s stop, and Thursday will see the riders, vendors and support people move on to Fairfield.
The route out of Centerville Thursday morning will take riders through West Grove, Bloomfield, Troy, Lebanon, Leando, Douds and Libertyville before the arrive in Fairfield. It’s a 65.9 mile route.
The Centerville square will close to parking and traffic at 10 p.m. Tuesday. The square is the focus of events in Centerville, which will include a family fun zone that opens at 3 p.m. and bands beginning at 6 p.m.
Centerville’s Monopoly-themed “Take a Chance on Centerville” gives way to “Geared for Weird” in Fairfield.
Bands will begin playing at 2 p.m. Thursday, but there will also be roving entertainment. Professor Adam Smasher will serve as master of ceremonies for the steampunk-themed visit. Brother Barnabas Brass-Boilerplate, the “Steampunk Pope,” will also be on hand.
As with Centerville, the main focus will be on the town square. Shuttles will be available to help get people from the square to camping sites around the city.
RAGBRAI riders generally begin arriving at overnight communities in the late morning, though traffic picks up considerably in the afternoon. And it is possible to encounter riders along the route virtually any time from sunup to sundown, so drivers who are out in the areas in which riders may be encountered should be careful.