Editor's note: RAGBRAI 2019 will begin in Council Bluffs. The annual event will be held July 21-28. For more information, check out our digital-only Daily Nonpareil RAGBRAI 2019 special section.
Bicyclists, volunteers and exhibitors kick off the RAGBRAI Expo on Saturday at the Mid-America Center from noon to 9 p.m.
Prepping for the starting line, more than 80 exhibitors will showcase cycling-related products and services to expo attendees in the parking lot northeast of the Mid-America Center.
Camping at the RAGBRAI Expo begins at 6 a.m. on Saturday.
The main stage welcomes Twisted Whiskey from 2 to 4 p.m., and the Polka Police from 7 to 8 p.m. Touch of Grey will perform at the second stage at the beer garden from 4 to 6 p.m. and Taxi Driver will perform from 8 to 10 p.m.
On Saturday from noon to 7 p.m., Girl Scout Troop 40406 will host a “carb cram before the great race” — an all you can spaghetti feed for $10 — at Emanuel Church of the Nazarene at 2309 S. 13th St.
Riders will begin the race on Sunday at 6 a.m., at their own pace and make their way to Atlantic, a 59.9 mile trek and 2,825 feet climb through southwest Iowa.
Passing the 100 Block, some businesses are offering drink and meal specials for riders or spectators who want to cheer them on. If riders choose to ride the optional gravel loop, it will take them through McClelland. Gatorade, snacks and juice will be for sale from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in addition to the Dew Drop Inn standing open for orders.
Avoca will have water slides on the edge of town on the RAGBRAI route, said Ashley English, content manager for the Council Bluffs Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The city of Walnut will have music, food, and a beverage garden from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. along with games.
“Seeing Iowa from a bike seat is the best way to experience Iowa,” said Diane McKee, three-year RAGBRAI rider.
Zach Somers, owner of Xtreme Wheels Bike and Sport on 33 S. Main St., said he recommends bringing the right equipment for the trip, such as patch kits, shorts, light and bright clothing.
Somers said the greatest danger in RAGBRAI is lack of communication from the large number of bikers in situations. For example, getting on or off the road.
Vehicles supporting RAGBRAI riders may find traveling difficult Saturday in Council Bluffs and Sunday from Council Bluffs to Avoca, amid thousands of expecting visitors this weekend. See full detailed traffic and direction maps online at https://bit.ly/32yuxdZ.
During the expo, volunteers are needed to keep the Mid-America parking lots and camp areas clean of trash and debris. Some moderate, brisk physical labor is required. Anyone over the age of 18 can sign up to volunteer online at https://bit.ly/2RQbjLH.
Walk-in volunteers are welcome, but are warned they will likely not receive a parking pass or T-shirt, said Warren Weber of the RAGBRAI volunteer committee.
High school students can volunteer with a permission waiver from their parents, printable from the website. Volunteers will meet and check-in at the former Famous Dave’s near Bass Pro Shops Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday night, many riders are still looking for host families. If you are able to host any number of riders, tents or parking spaces for RVs overnight, sign up at bit.ly/2JCu4Qu.