RAGBRAI: Scranton, Junction, Dana named RAGBRAI pass through towns, again
By BRANDON HURLEY
Scranton has a shot at redemption, a full decade later.
A midsummer storm barreled through the county during RAGBRAI in 2008, derailing a half-year’s worth of planning and organizing as ride officials urged bicyclists to pass over the town.
With upwards of 20,000 riders expected to descend on the western Greene County town that July — the last time the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Around Iowa made an appearance locally — current Scranton RAGBRAI co-chair Dawn Rudolph said fewer than 1,500 RAGBRAI-ers actually made their way into town, and chaos ensued.
“It was stormy that day, they started to detour everyone around Scranton, they took our signs down,” said Rudolph, a lifelong Scranton resident, former mayor and current Greene County supervisor. “People got caught in the storm on their way to Jefferson and had to find shelter where they could on farms. RAGBRAI ruled we should shut down the band and beer garden.”
Despite having sufficient shelter space in the various churches around town and in the three-story former school building, RAGBRAI officials decided to take extra precautions and urge riders to press on to Jefferson.
But that was then.
A chance to reintroduce themselves to RAGBRAI, and showcase what they’ve learned, was too much for the town of 557 to pass up.
Frankly, though, things will be a tad different this time around, Rudolph said.
“To say you’re not welcome is really bad, but let’s scale back,” she said. “Maybe we’ll have one big stand for our community with different options of music. We don’t have to go overboard.”
Announced this week, the 2018 Monday and Tuesday RAGBRAI routes cut through Greene County on nearly the exact same path as 2008, traveling through Scranton, Grand Junction and Dana (pop. 71) before rolling toward Boone County.
RAGBRAI riders will have their work cut out for them as they navigate their way into the overnight town of Jefferson on Monday, July 23.
The Denison to Jefferson leg is the longest and most challenging of the seven-day ride at 71.7 miles and 2,537 feet of climb.
Even then, it’s still nearly 13 miles shorter than the 2008 leg from Harlan to Jefferson — RAGBRAI must have a thing for punishing riders on their way to Jefferson.
The July 24 trek will feel like a breeze when riders wake up beneath the shadow of the Bell Tower and head toward Ames. They’ll make their way through Greene, Boone and Story counties to the tune of 58.9 miles and a mere 997 feet of climb — relatively flat terrain, for the non-cyclists.
RAGBRAI departs Denison en route to Aspinwall via M-36 south, E-53 east, M-55 south and Highway 141 east (19 miles) as riders stay along 141 through Manning (3.7 miles) and north onto N-14 into Templeton (7.7 miles).
The enthusiastic — and boisterous — bicyclists will linger in Carroll County a bit longer as they cut through Dedham on a brief trek along Highway 71 and E-57 (6.9 miles) before linking back up on Highway 141 into Coon Rapids (8.2 miles), Monday’s official RAGBRAI break point.
Participants will depart Coon Rapids on E-53 before they take an elongated trek north (roughly 10 miles) on Highway 25 into Scranton, a 16.4-mile ride.
The final leg into Jefferson will take riders along 9.7 miles east along E-53.
After rousing renditions of some of the most popular rock songs of the 1980s from cover band and headliner Hairball in Jefferson on Monday night, cyclists will head east July 24 along E-53 (Old Highway 30) to Grand Junction (7.3 miles) before turning north on Highway 144 to Dana, a mere 5.5-mile ride.
Cyclists will depart Greene County along E-26 for 11 miles before heading south on P-70 into Ogden, a full 15.5-mile ride before using E-41 into Boone for Tuesday’s meeting point, an 8.4-mile ride.
Rudolph is a bit bashful as to what exactly the community has to offer RAGBRAI.
“Not a lot has changed in Scranton (since 2008), but we are starting to get there,” Rudolph said. “Scranton Manufacturing has stepped up to the plate, that has been a big plus.”
Known globally for its New Way line of garbage trucks, Scranton Manufacturing has been in business for more than 35 years.
Grand Junction boasts a new community center, a recently renovated swimming pool and strong support of the Lincoln Highway.
Dana will be back in the spotlight after spending most of 2017 as a Highway 30 detour during construction of a new Grand Junction overpass.
An open line of communication throughout the county is vital to a smooth couple of days come July, Rudolph said. The four Greene County towns cyclists pass through should bond together to showcase what makes the county unique.
“I hope we can work with Jefferson, we don’t want to take away from their celebrations,” she said. “We just want a little slice of the pie. If we can keep the communication open, that will make things a lot better.”
The entire RAGBRAI route from Onawa to Davenport is 428.1 miles with 12,576 feet of climb, the seventh-shortest route in RAGBRAI history and the fourth flattest, making it the fourth-easiest route on record.
The inspection pre-ride, in which RAGBRAI officials travel the exact route and spend a day in each overnight town, is scheduled for early June.
A Jefferson logo and theme release party will be held in early April, with a yet-to-be-determined date.
For volunteer inquiries with the Jefferson RAGBRAI efforts, contact co-chair Toni Wetrich at 712-790-6063 or by email at email@example.com, or on the Jefferson, Iowa RAGBRAI 2018 Facebook page.