A decade after its last visit, RAGBRAI returned to its birthplace Wednesday to celebrate its 50th birthday.

And tens of thousands of cyclists peddled through the punishing heat to participate.

Riders rose before dawn Wednesday to begin their 55-mile journey to Des Moines, where Des Moines Register journalists John Karras and Donald Kaul 50 years ago hatched the idea for what would become the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

Amateur bikers and RAGBRAI newbies, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, joined veteran riders for the day, gliding along the wide, smooth highways of central Iowa.

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