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Downtown Orange City

RAGBRAI: The bike ride across Iowa
If you've ever wanted to see the Midwest at its folksy, small-town finest, there is no better way to do it than RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

What is now the world's oldest and largest non-competitive bike ride started as a hare-brained idea in 1973, when two staffers at the Des Moines Register newspaper finagled a way to take a bike vacation on the company's dime. More than 40 years later, the week-long ride at the end of July is now a can't-miss tradition for more than 10,000 riders from around the world, their support teams, and the locals who roll out the red carpet for the spandex-clad hordes.

The route changes each year, but it always starts with a ceremonial tire-dip in the Missouri River (on Iowa's western border) and ends with another tire-dip in the Mississippi (on Iowa's eastern border). In between are 475-some miles of rolling farmland, small towns and the best BBQ pork, ice cream and homemade pie you will ever eat in your life. It's a rolling feast.

Many of the towns were settled in the 1800s by European immigrants, like the Dutch who landed in Orange City (pictured here in 2012).

Orange City, IA 51041, USA