This weekend the good folks at RAGBRAI put out the detailed route for this summer's ride. As someone who's interest in cycling was kicked off by the 2012 event, I've been watching the announcements very closely. The route this year is one of the easiest ever, a response in part to the severity of last year. Although last year was not too challenging in terms of terrain, high heat made many of the longer rides unbearable and unsafe.
The route this year starts in Council Bluffs (Omaha, NE), runs over to Des Moines, then down to Fort Madison in the SE corner of the state.
Bigger version and route details here
I know the terrain from Council Bluffs to Des Moines fairly well, the Loess Hills region is very lovely, but full of big sweeping rollers. The route runs parallel to those hills, but they'll have to be climbed sooner or later. I know very little about SE Iowa, but the ride will average downhill. The day after Des Moines will feature a mile long bridge crossing of Lake Red Rock. Should be lovely, provided the wind stays down.
I've only done a single day of RAGBRAI, and as I mentioned, it did not go as well as it could have. This year I hope to complete a another day ride. Right now, leaving my wife at home with a toddler and an infant so I can ride (and eat and drink) my way across Iowa for week seems really selfish.
The same brother that I rode with last year lives in the Des Moines area, so I'm hoping to do the ride coming in to Des Moines. Should be a nice 50ish mile day. I'd love to do the century ride from Harlan to Perry, but the extra overnight is causing some logistic issues. There's no way--that I am aware of--that you can request camping for a single night of the week. There is also no way that I know of to get gear transport for a single day. This means a self supported tour load on my (probably) first century, with a search for a campsite in a seriously overloaded small Iowa town. Anybody know anybody with an available couch in Perry? (Yes, I've tried couchsurfing.org and warmshowers.org.)
For now I'll be content with a single day.