As many as 30,000 cyclists pedaled the 69 miles from Rock Valley to Okoboji during the opening day of the event. The city was waiting for the bikers, and the RAGBRAI community was impressed with what they saw.
Bikers from all over the world rode into Okoboji Sunday night. Signs from area businesses welcome the riders to the community.
Teresa Shiflett is riding in her 3rd RAGBRAI this year. She's originally from Iowa, but she's never been to Okoboji. She heard about the nightlife of the city, and she said the RAGBRAI crew brought out the best the community had to offer.
"I heard it referred to as the Vegas of Iowa. I've heard it referred to like the Ozarks of Iowa. Kind of the party lake, and they didn't disappoint for sure," Teresa Shiflett said.
She's riding with Matt Gunning. He also enjoyed visiting the various bars in the city, but says what he will really remember are the people of Okoboji when he heads back to Denver.
"Nobody locks their bikes. That's the type of atmosphere you have. You can just leave your bike unlocked in a city for three hours and you'll come back, all your stuff is there and nothing is like taken. It's amazing. It's been a crazy experience," Gunning said.
The event didn't just leave an impact on bikers, but also area businesses. Rick Generich is the co-owner of the Ritz Restaurant. He says a concert going on near the amusement park in Okoboji hurt business for a few hours, but afterwards, his business filled up. Generich says the anticipation and all the work that went into preparing for the RAGBRAI crowd was worth it.
"Any business, especially a small town like this where you have a limited amount of people, I think it's great that they bring people into the area. The bars, the restaurants, the convenience stores and just the people to look out here and see all the people enjoying the best place in America, Lake Okoboji," Rick Generich said.
On Monday, the bikers were traveling 41 miles to the next host town of Emmetsburg, Iowa.
For a look at the 418-mile route the bikers will be tackling this week visit RAGBRAI's website here.