- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The route for a popular bike ride across Iowa has been set in southern Iowa.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa - commonly known as RAGBRAI - begins July 23 in Glenwood and ends July 30 in Muscatine, the Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1Q1tB2Z ). The course covers 419.9 miles, with a total climb of 18,488 feet.

Organizers say this year’s scenic RAGBRAI course will be easier than most. It’s the third-shortest in the event’s 44-year history and ranks as the 24th flattest course in that same period.

The ride will also pass through Shenandoah, Creston, Leon, Centerville, Ottumwa and Washington.

“Any time we announce a southern route, people automatically assume it’s going to be extremely hilly and very difficult,” RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz said. “The interesting thing with this route is, the data says it’s not that difficult.”

Jamie Carpenter, assistant director of the Washington Chamber of Commerce, said Washington residents have been waiting for this moment for 15 years - the last time RABRAI passed through the town.

This year when it passes through, the ride will coincide with Washington town’s fair.

“The whole town supports it,” Carpenter said. “Washington wants to show everybody what Washington is about. This will bring such a sense of community togetherness.”

RAGBRAI officials typically receive around 200 applications to be a host city. More than 10,000 riders are expected to participate.

Estimates have shown RAGBRAI can bring in $3 million a day to local economies. That’s everything from gas to meals to sodas, the Register reported.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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