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Here and back

More than 1,300 bicyclists to flood Main Street for RAGBRAI training ride

SOLON– Solon will be at the turn for Big Rove, a 36-mile RAGBRAI training ride Saturday, July 29.
Downtown will the mid-point for over 1,300 bicyclists as they travel from Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Iowa City to its namesake in Solon for lunch and back, with stops in North Liberty along the way.
The event, sponsored by RAGBRAI (Register’s Great Annual Bicycle Race Across Iowa), the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, Big Grove Brewery and Think Iowa City, will take over the intersection of Main Street and Iowa Street for a street party most of the day.
But residents of Solon and North Liberty are invited to a special live music performance at Big Grove after the cyclists leave town.
Big Rove will launch from Iowa City on the Iowa River Corridor Trail with staggered starts between 8-10 a.m. It’s 10 miles to North Liberty and Reds Alehouse for a mid-morning start to the party, then it’s off to Solon on Mehaffey Bridge Road with a box lunch awaiting at Big Grove after eight more miles. Cyclists will wind into town on Racine Avenue and take Highway 382/Main Street downtown.
The sold-out crowd is expected to arrive any time after 10:30 a.m., noted City Administrator Cami Rasmussen at a June 19 Solon City Council meeting where a resolution authorizing a street closure for the event was approved.
RAGBRAI will be setting up a stage in the middle of the Main Street and Iowa Street intersection, she told council members. Main Street will be closed from the intersection to West Street, while Iowa Street will be closed a half-block in either direction. The entire area of the event will be barricaded.
Moxie and Mortar and Good Vibes Café asked the city for permission to host special events outside the area, Rasmussen reported, and those requests were granted.
She provided council members with a map of the area and indicated Iowa Street from alley to alley would be closed to traffic Friday night to allow for workers to start setting up for the rain-or-shine event.
Main Street will be blocked off Saturday morning.
Moo Moo’s Ice Cream Truck will be present as a fundraiser for the Solon Community Center, which will serve as an emergency storm shelter in the case of inclement weather, Rasmussen said.
Big Rove organizers will provide emergency medical services, a sag wagon, bike repair and will have a station for checking identification, she added.
According to Public Works Director Scott Kleppe a 30-foot by 60-foot tent will be erected adjacent to Big Grove’s outdoor seating.
The event sponsors will also furnish a hydration station, portable toilets and trash and recyclable containers, he said.
The At The Turn Party in Solon will feature live music from Dueling Pianos of Andy & Mike from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. According to the Big Rove website, the duo was “awesome during RAGBRAI’s stop in Denison last year on the main stage.”
Big Grove Brewery Manager Andrew Mitchell said he expected it to be crowded as the ride participants roll in to pick up their box lunches, but indicated locals would still be welcome.
Big Grove will have food and beverage stands set up south of the stage, with another station selling the Official Beer of RAGBRAI. Big Grove’s "Tailwind," a golden ale available in 16-ounce cans, will be available at all of the RAGBRAI towns, RAGBRAI training rides and at the Iowa Craft Beer Tents.
But cyclists won’t have a lot of time to linger in Solon.
The First Bar Party at Reds Alehouse in North Liberty features live music by The Spacemen from 9:30 a.m. to noon, the At The Turn Party concludes at 3 p.m., the Last Town Out Party back at Reds runs noon until 5 p.m. and the Post-Ride Party back at the start in Iowa City goes from 1-7 p.m.
After things quiet down in Solon, however, Mitchell said Big Grove will be extending its appreciation to the community and its regular patrons with an added live show by country/blues cover band Ramblin’ Fever from 3-6 p.m.
The performance will be free to residents of Solon and North Liberty, he said.
“Big Grove said it was definitely something they wanted to do for the public, provide a band after the dueling pianos that RAGBRAI is sponsoring.” Kleppe said during the June 19 council session.
By 8 p.m., he said, any remaining crowd will be asked to disperse, everything will be shut down and Main Street will hopefully be reopened to traffic by 10 p.m.
“Everything they do is really right on,” noted Mayor Steve Stange.
Big Rove’s Facebook page posted 50 remaining spots for the ride on Friday, June 21, and reported the event sold out Sunday morning.
Registration included a Friday night Pre-ride Party with live music and drink specials at Big Grove in Iowa City, a Big Rove Trucker Hat and commemorative Big Rove Slap Koozie, continental breakfast and drink specials at Big Grove in Iowa City and the ride parties in North Liberty and Solon.
Any RAGBRAI proceeds from the event will goes toward the building of the “RAGBRAI: River to River – Commemorating John Karras and Donald Kaul Monument” in Des Moines.