Coralville rolled out the red carpet for RAGBRAI 2015 — a massive one that cyclists rolled across while taking in an elaborate scene at Iowa River Landing.
A drone buzzed above the steady stream of riders swarming tents filled with bike gear and swag, art and local souvenirs.
The entourage of spandex and helmets converged with painted bodies, some acrobats and dozens of teens in impressive costumes.
The latter group, with folks sporting horns and weapons, showed up for AnimeIowa, which overlaps with RAGBRAI in Coralville this weekend.
The convention in the Marriott Hotel at the core of Iowa River Landing is expected to draw 3,000 attendees.
“This was a little bit surprising,” said Jill Gauthier, a first-year RAGBRAI rider from Elon, N.C.
“We’re all beat and exhausted, but this is so nice now I want to clean up and go shopping.”
She called it “the nicest city” of the week.
The spectacle even drew Miss Iowa Taylor Wiebers, who walked the streets in a formal gown and sash.
“Not only am I a supporter of Coralville and Iowa City as a Hawkeye, but also this (is a) great Iowa tradition,” said Wiebers, who just completed her junior year at University of Iowa.
The Clinton native said she loves the idea of RAGBRAI, but hasn’t mustered the courage to bike across the state herself.
She clarified that the pedaling isn’t her main concern.
“I’m a little hesitant about the whole sleeping in a tent for a week and not showering,” Wiebers said.
A RAGBRAI veteran with nearly 20 routes under his belt was struck by the variety in Coralville. And the landing site followed a remarkable 20-mile leg from Solon.
“The ride from Solon to here was probably the prettiest stretch I’ve ever seen,” said Pat Whelan of Minneapolis.
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