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After a 17-year drought, The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa will return to Denison this year.

The community will host RAGBRAI riders on the night of Sunday, July 22, The Denison Bulletin & Review reported.

“I think a lot of things came together at the right time,” said Chamber & Development Council of Crawford County Executive Director Evan Blakley. “We worked exceptionally hard this year at courting RAGBRAI and the decision-makers behind the route.”

Adding Denison Police Chief Dan Schaffer, an avid bicyclist, to the group making the pitch helped land Denison a place on the route, Blakley said.

“He worked very hard to pitch Denison to the RAGBRAI committee,” Blakley said.

He also credited the May 2, 2017, Crawford County Board of Supervisors resolution encouraging the return of the ride to the county.

The board of supervisors voted in October 2007 to prohibit RAGBRAI from riding on county roads. The ban was passed following the death of Kirk Ullrich on the 2004 ride and subsequent lawsuit against the county by his wife, Betti Jo Ullrich.

The county’s insurance carrier paid $350,000 to settle her claim. The ban was lifted in 2008 after RAGBRAI made changes that released local governments from liability.

The chamber hosted Iowa Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Mark Wyatt at last year’s Manilla Madness bicycle ride and gave him a tour of all the community amenities to help sell why Denison would be a great overnight community, Blakley said.

Twenty-four individuals from Denison traveled to Des Moines on Saturday to attend the RAGBRAI route announcement, including Mayor Jared Beymer and other city staff, representatives of the Crawford County Cruisers bicycle club, staff from Boulders Inn and Suites and the entire chamber staff.

“We heard the comment that, when they were announcing the towns, that Denison was the loudest response as far as cheering went,” Blakley said. “We may have had the most people of any town.”

It took less than 10 minutes to announce all the towns. The announcers noted that the ride had not visited the community for 17 years and that Denison is the birthplace of film and television actress Donna Reed.

The full route detailing the roads to be used for the ride will not be released until March. Tourism Coordinator Blair Weigum said she has already been in contact with individuals looking for housing during the overnight stay in Denison.

“I just got off the phone with a gentleman who has a bike team of 25 from Urbandale, and he was asking if there is a family they could stay with — in their yard or in their home,” she said.

A good portion of her time will be spent finding housing and places for people to stay, she said. One of her first priorities is to find volunteers for the 19 committees that will deal with all the issues surrounding the ride’s time in the county.

She has also been poring over the RAGBRAI “Bible” to make sure she understands all the requirements.


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