By now you’re probably heard that RAGBRAI is coming to town for the first time in 17 years.
On July 22, 20,000 to 30,000 bicycle riders will pedal their way from Onawa to Denison and then spend the night here.
The exact route will not be known until March, but planning is already underway for dealing with the influx of tens of thousands of people.
Understandably, much of the interest in having RAGBRAI come through town revolves around the economic activity the riders are expected to bring.
More than $1 million could plausibly be spent in Denison during the day the ride visits.
Hotels, restaurants and other businesses will likely do very well, and businesses all over town should prepare for a lot of foot traffic.
The Chamber & Development Council of Crawford County (CDC) is encouraging businesses that might not normally have something to offer bicycle riders to consider changing their business models for the day to provide a needed good or service or something of interest.
The CDC will also be busy preparing a hundred different ways.
That’s where we all come into the picture.
Beyond the direct economic impact, RAGBRAI will be a great opportunity to introduce our town to tens of thousands people.
Denison has always been a welcoming community and this will be a good time to put out the welcome mat.
Cyclists will be looking for places to camp or stay overnight – and not just in Denison.
My parents let a group of cyclists camp in the yard at our farm south of Denison the last time around and they still talk about how much they enjoyed playing host.
If the ride route doesn’t go out Donna Reed Road, riders may not want to ride another five miles south of town to camp in a yard, but we’ll be offering up ours again to an interested group.
Not everyone is going to be interested in hanging out with thousands of other riders in town, so if you have a rural location, you might want to consider offering it.
I know I would prefer a quiet place in the country and I’m sure a lot of riders would as well.
At its most basic, this is a grand opportunity to meet new people from all over the world, make new friends and create memories.
Get in touch with the CDC and see what kind of help they need - because they will need all they can get.
When the riders are in town in July, make an effort to get out and enjoy the experience.
Be a friendly face or a helping hand. Show our visitors what Denison is all about.
Denison should be the best overnight stop on the whole ride.
Let’s make it so good that they don’t even think about waiting another 17 years to bring the ride through again.