WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Keokuk Ready for RAGBRAI

Jul 26, 2019

Organizers have been confident that Keokuk's  riverfront would be ready to handle the thousands of bicycle riders arriving July 27 to mark the end of the 2019 RAGBRAI, despite months of severe flooding and a coal train derailment. It appears that confidence was warranted.

The 450+ mile bicycle ride across Iowa will conclude next to the George M. Verity Riverboat Museum along the Mississippi River. That’s the spot where riders will be able to dip their tires, their bicycles and even themselves in the river to mark the end of the ride.

  • Today, the dip site features a 10’ wide path of freshly-laid, bright white rock leading from the museum’s parking lot to the river itself. One week ago, it was impossible to identify exactly where the dip site was.
  • Today, the asphalt between the railroad tracks leading up to the dip site have been filled in, allowing for riders to cross the tracks without issue. A couple weeks ago, the asphalt there was broken up, creating even a bumpy ride for cars trying to cross the tracks.
  • Today, the final large pieces of driftwood are being removed from the riverfront using large pieces of machinery. A few weeks ago, there was driftwood strewn throughout the riverfront, brought forward by the over-flowing river. 

The dip site is already being used ahead of the riders arriving Saturday morning.
Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR

Kira Kruszynski with the organizing commitee said the reason Keokuk is ready for RAGBRAI is because of local volunteers, city staff, and business partners.

Riders will arrive in Keokuk via River Road, passing the Keokuk Yacht Club and Rand Park before reaching Grand Avenue. From there, they will take 4th Street for a couple blocks before zig-zagging their way to 1st Street, beneath the bridge linking Keokuk and Hamilton.

Kruszynski said the riders will ride beneath the bridge, crossing the aforementioned railroad tracks, before turning toward the dip site. She said Keokuk will offer them a little refreshment as they reach their destination.

“We are going to have a misting water feature, which is meant to mimic the dam’s spillways. That’s going to be really cool and with 90 degree temperatures on Saturday, it will be refreshing as well.”

The riverfront will feature food vendors, a beer garden, shade tents, and live music from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

“There will be a little bit of freedom for riders,” said Kruszynski. “If they want to grab a drink first, or grab a bite to eat, that’s OK. I hope people will be able to do what they want to do when they get down there. Some people might even just want to be down there for the party and the feeling.”

Keokuk has several parking lots filled with vehicles awaiting the riders on Saturday. By being the final stop on this year's RAGBRAI, riders arrived prior to the start of the ride to leave their cars ahead of time.
Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR

Kruszynski said most vehicles will be restricted from the riverfront to make it easier for the riders to reach their destination. But she said for the most part, there will not be a lot of roads closed in Keokuk, so she is encouraging people to be careful and mindful of riders.

“It’s going to be something really exciting to see. It’s not every day that 10,000+ bicycle riders come to your community. I think if you are posted up along Grand Avenue or even 4th Street, you will get quite a show.”

Kruszynski said the biggest need at this point is still volunteers. She said more than 200 people have signed up to help Saturday but a few dozen more are still needed to make sure that the RAGBRAI riders experience the best Keokuk has to offer.