CEDAR RAPIDS — With nearby trails and a burgeoning bar and dining scene, the Czech Village/New Bohemia district is a natural fit for cyclists, and it’s only fitting to showcase it for RAGBRAI Cedar Rapids.
“This is where the action is,” said Rick Larson, 59, of Cedar Rapids, one of several volunteers at the NewBo Bike Collective, 1029 Third St. SE, which refurbishes discarded bikes among its many projects.
Groups of bicycles often can be seen along 16th Avenue SW and parked outside Parlor City Pub and Eatery, 1127 Third St. SE. But both sides of the Cedar River will see an unprecedented influx of Spandex when RAGBRAI makes a pass-through stop Friday morning in the district.
The week-long bike ride across Iowa could bring more than 10,000 cyclists through the district that day.
Thursday night’s Party on the Island, featuring a concert by the Counting Crows, will be followed the next morning by Breakfast on the Bridge, one of the rare times RAGBRAI has designated a town both an overnight stop and a pass-through stop.
“I think it is pretty unique compared to anything we’ve done in the past,” ride Director T.J. Juskiewicz said of the dual stops in one city.
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Juskiewicz said the Czech Village/New Bohemia area is distinct enough to be considered “a different village” within Cedar Rapids, and it’s a place that RAGBRAI organizers wanted cyclists to see, especially with that day’s short ride to Anamosa.
The fact that the area continues to rebound from the Floods of 2008 adds to the importance of the stop, he said.
Juskiewicz said a majority of RAGBRAI riders have never been to Cedar Rapids and might consider returning for a weekend trip after seeing the museums and other attractions.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase not only what’s happened since the flood, but how much everyone has come together for this,” said Sara Reasner, chairwoman of Breakfast on the Bridge for the Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District.
Reasner said 10 vendors and 20 tables with seating will be set up on the 16th Avenue Bridge, known as the Bridge of Lions, when the event begins at 6 a.m. Friday. Restaurants on both sides of the river also will be open for breakfast.
A cabbage roll obstacle race and musicians performing in the Czech Village bandstand and elsewhere are among entertainment options. A display by the NewBo Bike Collective’s Art Bikes Project will be showcased on the bridge to spread the word about the group, said Scott Anderson, 53, of Cedar Rapids, another of the collective’s volunteers.
The 16th Avenue Bridge, along with Third Street SE and 16th Avenue SW, will be closed to traffic from 4 a.m. until noon. The event ends at 10 a.m.
Owner John Rocarek said Sykora Bakery, 73 16th Ave. SW, will be open overnight from Thursday through Friday to sell Czech pastries and more. The most popular kolache flavors — cherry, apricot and apple — will be sold outdoors, along with breakfast pizza.
Thirty volunteers will help the bakery’s crew of eight feed hungry riders, with 5,000 kolaches and 4,000 cookies being baked.
“It’s double the amount of our biggest weekend,” Rocarek said, referring to earlier this month when the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library reopened in Czech Village. “It’s going to be crazy.”
- Cindy Hadish