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Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett

30th of July 2023



Statewide Bike Ride: A Spotlight on Iowa’s Small Towns

Contrary to the common narrative of “small-town America” slowly fading away, the statewide bike ride across Iowa, known as RAGBRAI, paints a different picture. This event brings to light the vibrancy and resilience of small towns like Colfax, which are not only surviving but thriving.

Colfax: A Testament to Small Town Resilience During the Statewide Bike Ride

Colfax, a small town in central Iowa, recently welcomed thousands of cyclists participating in the statewide bike ride, RAGBRAI.

Despite the challenging hill that awaited the riders, the town’s vibrant downtown and the inviting shade provided a much-needed respite.

Colfax has seen an almost 8% increase in population from 2010 to 2020, reversing two decades of decline. This growth, evident during the statewide ride, is a testament to the town’s resilience and its appeal to families and individuals alike.

Statewide Bike Ride

What’s the secret behind the success of towns like Colfax, especially during the statewide bike ride? Wade Wagoner, the city administrator for Colfax, credits a proactive mayor, council, and volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure a vital community.

The growth of nearby Des Moines and the recent approval of a $14 million bond for athletic and academic improvements have also played a role.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which made remote work more prevalent, has allowed people to live just about anywhere, including small towns across America.

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RAGBRAI: A Chance for Small Towns

Events like RAGBRAI, the statewide bike ride, offer small towns a chance to showcase their strengths. From the smallest Fareway grocery store in the state to a bustling city hall. Colfax has created a community that people want to call home.

And while the event may bring challenges like managing trash and portable toilets. It also provides an opportunity for these towns to show off their charm and hospitality.

Statewide Bike Ride

The impact of the statewide bike ride, RAGBRAI, on small towns extends beyond a single day of festivities. In Polk City, high school students collected money to fund their after-prom party. Slater, donations were used to build a new community center and library.

In Breda, the town aimed to raise $300,000 to replace the lights at its baseball grandstand. These examples highlight how the statewide bike ride can contribute to the development and improvement of small towns.

The narrative of small-town America’s decline is challenged by the resilience and vibrancy of towns like Colfax, Slater, and Breda.

Events like the statewide bike ride, RAGBRAI, not only provide a fun and challenging experience for cyclists. But also shine a spotlight on these small towns, their communities, and their potential for growth and development.

Statewide Bike Ride: A Spotlight on Iowa’s Small Towns