Tama-Toledo becomes fixie for 50th RAGBRAI

Communities selected as overnight destination

On Thursday, July 27, RAGBRAI will be coming to Tama-Toledo for an overnight stay. The last time Tama-Toledo hosted RAGBRAI was back in 2008.

Katherine Ollendieck, the Executive Director of Tama County Economic Development, helped lead the proposal that was presented to RAGBRAI.

“Peace. Love. Music. As you enter Tama-Toledo, you will be greeted with smiling faces, and we invite you to step back 50 years and let our communities help the riders, support staff, and many visitors experience the music, style, and vibe of 1973. From the moment you enter the city limits, the groovy, funky, free spirit, and good vibes welcome will begin. Can you dig it?”

Among Ollendieck at the RAGBRAI Reveal Party representing Tama-Toledo were Toledo Mayor Brian Sokol, Cassie Sokol, Tama-Toledo Chamber Director Marlys Upah, Derek and Jill Kienzie, Doug and Mona Ray, Sierra Berger, Jason Bina, Chris and Kevin Nelson, Gary and Susan Bock, Kendall and Barb Jordan, Brian and Kaiyla Wacha, Judy Welch, and Sam Ferris.

This is the golden 50th anniversary of RAGBRAI. This year’s route will honor the first ride in 1973, with stops in Sioux City, Storm Lake, Ames, Des Moines, and Davenport. Caroll, Coralville, and Tama-Toledo round out the eight-stop bike ride across Iowa.

Katherine Ollendieck (R) is the Executive Director of Tama County Economic Development and the official spokesperson for the RAGBRAI 2023 Tama-Toledo events. Photo contributed by Katherine Ollendieck.

“This is an incredible opportunity to showcase Tama Toledo and all we have to offer. I am certain we can handle all that comes with hosting overnight on the 50th anniversary of RAGBRAI. We already have so many details worked out, this was an upfront requirement to convince the RAGBRAI staff we were up to the challenge. The momentum is building, and I intend to work hard to help our communities shine,” said Ollendieck.

RAGBRAI began with John Karras and Donald Kaul of Des Moines, two reports who had 114 riders join them for the maiden voyage in 1973.

Ollendieck reminisces about that first ride.

“A picture comes to mind of the first 114 inaugural riders headed down a beautiful Iowa highway taking in the beauty, remembering the day’s hospitality, and an AM/FM radio duct taped to the bike filling the air with the amazing music of 1973,” she said. “Our entertainment lineup will pay tribute to this music. From our entrance welcome into Tama-Toledo to our afternoon entertainment to the live evening acts. We will celebrate the music.”

While Tama-Toledo wasn’t on the original route in 1973, the riders will stay overnight to celebrate Military Appreciation Day alongside Tama-Toledo citizens.

The Tama-Toledo Reveal Group decked out in their hippiest outfits to help celebrate bringing RAGBRAI home. Photo contributed by Katherine Ollendieck.

“With so much history around this ride, we wanted our 50th to celebrate some of those original communities and add just a little twist to keep riders guessing,” said Matt Phippen, RAGBRAI ride director. “RAGBRAI Nation is excited to ride their bikes across our state in July.”

RAGBRAI will take place from July 22-29 this year. The central route is approximately 500 miles with 16,549 feet of elevation, making it the sixth longest ride and elevation in RAGBRAI history.

The anticipated registered riders this year exceeds 20,000 from all 50 states and international participants, helping make a milestone ride.

On Thursday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m., a RAGBRAI public meeting will be held at the Reinig Civic Center. Those wishing to volunteer are encouraged to come to this meeting.

On Sunday, Jan. 29, Katherine Ollendieck joined the RAGBRAI team for a Host Town Breakfast. Photo contributed by Katherine Ollendieck.