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      World famous bike ride may return to Ottumwa

      On January 26, cities all across Iowa will be anticipating the RAGBRAI or the Register??s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa??s announcement regarding the route for the 2013 bike ride.

      The annual, non-competitive bike ride draws thousands from all across the country to Iowa, highlighting the people and places that make the Hawkeye state what it is today.

      ??I don??t think that there is any event that says ??tourism?? more than RAGBRAI. Who knew in Iowa, that we had this phenomenal bike ride? Certainly we want the phenomenal bike ride to come to Ottumwa and Wapello County,?? said Mark Eckman, Executive Director of the Ottumwa Convention and Visitors Bureau.

      It has been three years since the route toured portions of southeast Iowa, and Eckman as well as members from surrounding communities hope that it will do so this coming July.

      ??They are very close. They are going to have their announcement event in Des Moines. They are not telling anyone; and that is a very important part because people certainly scramble for hotel reservations in all of the overnight towns,?? Eckman said.

      According to Eckman, Ottumwa and Wapello County are hoping that the City of Bridges will be one of those overnight locations.

      ??I think that it is likely. I think they try to change it up. They have toured the northern part when it has been gone, they have been down to the southern and central parts as well; so I believe the expectation is that they will come through some parts of southern Iowa, if not through the entire length of southern Iowa,?? Eckman said.

      If Ottumwa is chosen, Eckman says that they are prepared. He added that both the city and the county are behind the bid 100%, and because of the success, the city had last time hosting the event, he believes if Ottumwa is chosen, they will succeed once again.

      ??I have heard nothing but positive things about 2009, both from riders and from the community. I think it was a great unifying event and they did a phenomenal job. Unfortunately, I was not here yet, so here is my chance if they do choose Ottumwa, to be apart of it and make it another memorable event for Ottumwa itself as well as for RAGBRAI.