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State Historical Society of Iowa

Riding Through History

Learn how two Des Moines Register staff members, Donald Kaul and John Karras, turned their desire to ride across the state into the oldest and largest bicycling tour in the world. On a whim, in 1973, Kaul and Karras invited newspaper readers to join them for a six-day ride across the state with about 300 riders showing up for the ride. This success led to the creation of RAGBRAI® (Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa).

Take a seven day tour across the state and get a glimpse of the RAGBRAI® experience including signature foods, team jerseys and classic bicycles. Enjoy a short film and see why more than 10,000 riders from across the world come to take in the different landscapes of Iowa.

Tour the Exhibit


  • View images of cycling from the 1800s to today
  • Learn about eight riders who rode in the first 40 RAGBRAI® events
  • Check out RAGBRAI® team jerseys and accessories
  • Watch a video about RAGBRAI© including footage from the 1974 ride