Apr 17, 2023 - News

RAGBRAI's Polk County trek could cost metro area more than $1M

A photo of RAGBRAI.

RAGBRAI riders in 2013, the last time the event was in Des Moines. Photo courtesy of Catch Des Moines

RAGBRAI's Polk County trek may cost more than $1 million, metro organizers tell Axios.

Why it matters: Public safety.

  • Some estimate as many as 100,000 riders participating in the 50-mile route from Ames to DSM on July 26.

State of play: Plans are still in progress but the route is anticipated to take over a section of East 14th Street in both directions and likely require the assistance of hundreds of traffic, law enforcement and emergency personnel.

  • It's still unknown how much local governments will be asked to contribute, what corporate donations may cover or how much RAGBRAI/the Des Moines Register may pay, Trina Flack of Catch DSM tells Axios.
  • Her group is working with RAGBRAI and multiple metro governments to plan for the event.

Flashback: The event's last metro appearance in 2013 included roughly 20,000 riders and came to DSM from Valley Junction, according to a Register article published that year.

  • Corporate donors gave $100,000 to help cover the capital city portion of that year's ride.
  • 30 DSM police officers were stationed along the route with other officers working 12-hour shifts to cover the rest of the city.

Zoom in: Cost projections for this year's event are complicated by an uncertainty in the number of riders, Flack said.

  • Her group is generally planning for about 50,000 riders but recognizes that participation and crowds could be larger, especially if weather is favorable.

The intrigue: RAGBRAI is trying to best a bike parade record currently held by an event in Italy in 2000 when almost 49,000 participated.

What's next: Expect firmer cost estimates and requests of both governments and businesses in coming weeks, Flack said.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.

More Des Moines stories