Bicycle riders who were daunted by the size of the week-long statewide RAGBRAI might consider this weekend’s 23rd annual Bike Van Buren ride in southeast Iowa’s Van Buren County.
It treks through a dozen historic communities in the county covering about 110 miles. Stacy Reese, executive director of the Villages of Van Buren, says the two-day bike ride covers 64 miles today (Saturday).
"However, if those numbers intimidate you, it’s okay because we have shortcuts on both days so you can trim miles off that if you need to," Reese says. "Sunday is a shorter day. We’ve got 50 miles but throughout the weekend, you’re going to ride into each one of our historic villages and be welcomed with outstanding hospitality."
She’s expecting 250 riders for the weekend event, but she warns, you’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for a McDonalds or a Wal-mart, as it’s a rural, historic area.
"There are no stoplights in Van Buren County, within the entire county," Reese says. "We have no fast food restaurants and you won’t find any large retail chain stores as well. We love it that way and we’re finding a lot of our visitors like that, too." The ride will begin and end at the Keosauqua City Park each day. Today’s journey includes the villages of Bentonsport, Bonaparte, Farmington, Mount Sterling, Cantril, Milton and Lebanon. Sunday’s route will wind through the remaining villages of Douds, Birmingham and Stockport.
"All of our villages have their own little special niche and you’re going to get the best flavor from all of them throughout the weekend," Reese says. "There’s lots of things to do. Most of our historic sites are going to open for the weekend and those offer free tours."