• Sun June 29 2008
  • Posted Jun 29, 2008
Brian Morelli Iowa City Press-Citizen Parts of the 2008 RAGBRAI route are presently compromised because of flooding, but the roads are expected to be in cycling shape by the time the statewide bike ride rolls around in late July. T.J. Juskiewicz, director of the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, said he drove the route last week to check conditions. "A few towns a week ago I would have said that is not possible," Juskiewicz said of having thousands of cyclists pass through. "I feel a lot better after seeing it with my own eyes, but there is still a lot of work to do." RAGBRAI begins July 19 in Missouri Valley and ends July 26 in Le Claire. It will stop overnight in North Liberty on July 24. Juskiewicz said some road shoulders have been washed out and other repairs need to be made before some roads re-open. Juskiewicz said much of the route is in good shape, and he is encouraged because many roads have re-opened and the Mehaffey Bridge over Coralville Lake, for example, is back in use. Present concerns are limited, Juskiewicz said. RAGBRAI officials are most closely watching roads near Albia and the Amanas, he said. Other aspects of RAGBRAI, such as camping and food vendors, require large, open fields, and many of those fields across Iowa are saturated. A campground in Toledo, which is an overnight town on July 23, likely will not be ready in time for RAGBRAI, he said. Other campgrounds in the Tama-Toledo area and camping in the other seven overnight towns will be ready, he said. Food venders in Tama-Toledo could have to be moved to the outskirts of town, he said. "Right now we don't anticipate changes," Juskiewicz said. "Right now we are anticipating being able to travel on plan A, which is the original route." Local planners are optimistic as well. "We have experienced no issues from the flooding," said Tracey Mulcahey, co-chairwoman of the North Liberty RAGBRAI committee. "Our latest update from the RAGBRAI committee is it is business as usual." Juskiewicz said while present conditions look promising, severe weather could change things in a hurry. "A lot of this depends on the future weather," he said. "We have contingency plans. It is too early to discuss them. We are always talking about what happens if this goes out or that goes out." Juskiewicz said he contacted former RAGBRAI director Jim Green, who was on board during 1993, when Iowa also experienced major flooding. "He said one of best decisions we ever made was to hold the event. With all the darkness the state had been through, this was a way to provide a little sunshine," he said.

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