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How does one do the Ragbrai?

Old 08-02-21, 11:36 PM
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Geo_Zegarra2016
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How does one do the Ragbrai?

I've heard of the Ragbrai event on ****** where is an event that happens every July and a lot of cyclists around the world would ride from West to East Iowa in one week. I've decided to do this even in 2023 where is the year I will be finishing my Master's in Math. I am 25 years old and a couple of days ago completed 40 miles without walking up a hill! I started cycling back in December 2020 and since then it has changed my life. I want to continue doing cycling for a very long time. I see many folks in the group rides that are in their 50s or 60s and still riding like they are in their 20s or 30s (well not that fast but they can do those steep hills without any problems). 2023 is not a long way to go about 700 days left. What should I do as a young man in their mid 20s prepare for this event? I'm thinking of starting rowing and running. I've started doing running but for some reason, I need someone to be there with me. I need that encouragement to keep running. For those who did the event, did you drive all the way to Iowa? I am from New York and is about a 16-hour drive.
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Old 08-03-21, 02:51 AM
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When you get to the point where you can do a 20 to 30 mile exercise ride and when you are done, you feel just like you did before the ride, you are ready. If at the end of a 20 to 30 mile ride you feel like you need to take a break and relax for a while, then you are not ready. That said, how one defines ready will vary greatly from one person to the next, thus others might disagree with my definition.
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Old 08-03-21, 07:54 AM
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RAGBRAI sounds harder to the new cyclist than it really is. Yes, each day consists of 50-80 miles, but you have all day to do it, and there is lots of food and drink available. There are many small towns along the route, so many of us think of each day as a handful of 5-15 mile rides.

So don't fret about needing two years to "train" for RAGBRAI. You could do it tomorrow! Getting some miles in your legs (and butt) in the months beforehand just makes it more enjoyable.
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Old 08-03-21, 08:18 AM
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How does one do the Ragbrai?

From what I've heard, drunk.
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Old 08-03-21, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
How does one do the Ragbrai?

From what I've heard, drunk.
It's not mandatory, but...

Seriously, though, and to tie this thread to the subforum a little better, RAGBRAI was my gateway to commuting and long-distance riding. It was my first century, and the sense of accomplishment from having ridden my bike across a whole state got me wondering what else I could accomplish on a bike.
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Old 08-03-21, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
RAGBRAI sounds harder to the new cyclist than it really is. Yes, each day consists of 50-80 miles, but you have all day to do it, and there is lots of food and drink available. There are many small towns along the route, so many of us think of each day as a handful of 5-15 mile rides.

So don't fret about needing two years to "train" for RAGBRAI. You could do it tomorrow! Getting some miles in your legs (and butt) in the months beforehand just makes it more enjoyable.
I wish I could do it next year but I'm just a busy person. That is why two years is my goal since after that I am done with school for that time.
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Old 08-03-21, 09:03 AM
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Get to a point where your standard day ride is 40-55 miles long and, as T-MSN says, you still feel reasonably fresh. If hills are hard to do..then ride more hills. As a not so small side thing..do what you can in the next 700 days to insure your bike fits you & is comfortable. If your butt continues to bother you after you're use to cracking out 40-50 miles a day, then you need to find a new/more comfortable saddle. Same goes for other parts of your body..if your knees are continually bothering you or your neck muscles are killing you, then you need to work on your bike setup and fitting. If you're comfortable on the bike, then riding 50-80 a day is very doable. If you're uncomfortable, then it can be a long day.
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Old 08-03-21, 09:04 AM
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I got a good laugh that people in their 50's are slow.

Ah, youth.

Just do it. Don't wait. There is no time like the present.

Fiona Kolbinger won the Transcontinental Race while she was in Medical School.
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Old 08-03-21, 09:12 AM
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The only reason I would say not to do it totally unprepared is that your bike might not be up to it. People that only ride their bikes once a year on RAGBRAI do it drunk every year.
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Old 08-03-21, 09:21 AM
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Don't FIND time to do an event you want to do, MAKE time!
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Old 08-03-21, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
How does one do the Ragbrai?

From what I've heard, drunk.
Pretty much. It's more of a big drunk fest than anything.

U.P. in Da Corn.
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Old 08-04-21, 08:26 AM
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Four Ways to Ride RAGBRAI
There are plenty of accounts describing what RAGBRAI is, (the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) and what you might expect in the sojourn across Iowa. I want to skip ahead, and describe the various ways that people participate in the ride. There are four ways for cyclists to participate, by my count: the Register, the Charter, the Team, and the Bandit.

The Register

The Des Moines Register (as the leading sponsor of the event) offers the most basic services, but plenty enough to get you by. A “full-week” rider pass includes use of the baggage truck: drop your bags at the designated area each morning before eight (no sleeping in too late) and your duffel will show up at the next night’s camp around five or six in the evening. Your official registration also includes privileged access to the sag wagon, and will occasionally get you discounts with sponsored food and merchandise vendors along the route. Official registrations are limited, however, so register early. Applications open in mid-November for the lottery, though the results are not released until April. Even if you miss the lottery however, rider-registrations are transferable and often appear for private sale from May right on through July (sometimes even at discount rates).

The Charter
The Charter is a more recent strategy, though it has become incredibly popular. Outfitter organizations, such as the renowned Pork Belly Ventures sell a litany of services to rider-participants; the services come in at various price points and offer a range of amenities. The charter organizations are vetted by the Des Moines Register, and will only accept riders who provide an official rider registration (though some charters still encourage application and payment for their services beforehand). Once you have your official rider-registration, the charters can handle shuttle services from one side of the state to the other, for you and your bike. Beyond the shuttle, charters may offer tent rentals (and even tent-setup for you each night), nightly shower tents and towel services, water and gatorade on-camp-site, and sometimes even a dinner meal or two or seven throughout the week. There is even a ‘mobile bunkhouse’ service, too. Rates, of course, are commensurate with services.

The Team
A more traditional approach is the Team. This includes anything from hundred-member cycling clubs to families of four. Each team provides their own varying levels of service, though generally a team includes a support vehicle -- anything from a small RV with a bike rack on up to a full-length retrofitted school bus. Teams are allotted their own registrations aside from the lottery, so registering with a team takes some of the headwork out of the official lottery. Though some teams come prepared with their own week-long support staff (volunteers and family members to drive the vehicle and set camp), smaller teams may have you taking a turn driving the baggage-wagon. The team approach might afford some unique experiences as well -- many teams have close friends along the route, offering a more private backyard camp away from the main-camps (with an indoor, hot shower if you’re lucky).

The Bandit
There is always a contingent of so-called bandits (the word is used derogatorily by some, but embraced by others). Foregoing the baggage trucks, the sag-wagons, and often-times the official registration itself, a bandit truly “rides their own ride”. If you can carry your own gear (a la touring bike style) you can follow along with the crowd almost anywhere -- after all, the roads are always open to the public during RAGBRAI. There is no sag wagon, and no charter service will sell you a shuttle pass for before or after the weeklong ride. That does not mean you’re alone, though; you’re never alone on RAGBRAI. Besides, compared to actual ‘cross-country touring’, riding across Iowa in the last week of July means there will be a pop-up bike shop at every morning and night stop (and some en-route too) and the same number of small towns and smiling faces. Perhaps the best part of being self-contained is the flexibility. You can camp all alone in the far corners of the park, or you might just get an invite from a small team to join them for the night. In any case -- while some might disparage the bandits as ‘freeloaders’, -- the self-supported rider hearkens back to the first days of RAGBRAI, before there were shower-trucks and bunkhouses.

Conclusion

There is no wrong way to ride RAGBRAI. Without the variety of riders and rider-styles, the event would not be the spectacle that it is. From the hardened cross-country tourist, to the pro-team riders on a ‘rest week’, to the newer, older, and youngling riders who need a hand pitching their tent, RAGBRAI is for everyone.
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Old 08-04-21, 08:37 AM
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Some additional comments:

I disagree that it's a drunk-fest. The heavy drinking is almost always limited to midafternoon and later -- those 'closing down' the route, as it were. Thousands of riders finish each day reasonably early, and without more than a beer or two along the way, if any at all -- there is more drinking in the overnight stops, of course.

The bike is almost as important as the fitness. If you have the resources, try and time a few basic wear-item replacements a month or so before the ride: new tires, new chain, and new brake pads provide a high level of confidence for a weeklong ride.

The fitness is important, but you would be surprised at some of the folks who finish the ride -- a mind over matter sort of thing. If you're more fit, you'll finish riding earlier and more comfortably, and be better prepared for the inevitable walking: to camp, to shower, to the city-shuttles, and so on. Nonetheless, even if you come up a bit short on the fitness end, you won't be alone. The official guides usually recommend about 1,000 miles in the spring months leading up to RAGBRAI; that's really only about 250 miles per month, March to June. Ideally, you'd at least follow a loose progression from 20-30 mile rides on up to a solid (and comfortable) 75-80 mile ride in June.
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Old 08-04-21, 09:09 AM
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Thanks for those comments, Bulette . If anyone is concerned about being on the road during the "drunk fest", it's pretty easy to avoid that by starting earlier. (Our team has a joke that you can tell if you're riding with the correct wave by looking at the shoes other people are wearing. )

My first couple of RAGBRAIs were with a more serious team that skewed older. We generally woke up 5-5:30 and were on the road by 6:30-7. Some days, we'd reach the overnight town by 1pm, which helped to avoid much of the afternoon heat. (Not to mention, food and toilet paper shortages.)
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Old 08-13-21, 11:50 AM
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In addition to Bulette's groups, there are also a number of riders who ride Ragbrai a day ahead of the main group. So none of the hoopla and crowds that you
encounter on Ragbrai but the markings and setups are ready.
But to address the initial poster, the ride days are physically not challenging in terms of distance but you need to do enough riding days in
a row of a length to make sure your crotch/saddle/shorts/shoes all agree and don't become problems after a week on the bike. Many states
have cross state spring/summer/fall rides done every year and some have partial state rides as options in addition to the week long variants.

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Old 08-13-21, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by sch View Post
Many states have cross state spring/summer/fall rides done every year and some have partial state rides as options in addition to the week long variants.
Yes, I suggest doing Crush the Commonwealth in Pennsylvania. An idyllic, 350 mile, 2 day ride with many miles on bike paths
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Old 08-13-21, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Yes, I suggest doing Crush the Commonwealth in Pennsylvania. An idyllic, 350 mile, 2 day ride with many miles on bike paths
"Idyllic" and "350 mile, 2 day ride"? Is it all downhill??
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Old 08-13-21, 02:50 PM
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McKeesport? A good time for some threshold work on crust the commonwealth
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Old 08-13-21, 04:42 PM
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Thanks for the laughs, Ghost and Unter.
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Old 08-13-21, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
"Idyllic" and "350 mile, 2 day ride"? Is it all downhill??
I like it when fleche weekend is scheduled for a Philly to Pittsburgh running of CtC. They always have brutal headwinds, which means from here to Trexlertown will feature tailwinds.

Gap/C&O is relatively flat, but you couldn't do a RAGBRAI type ride on it because it doesn't have the capacity.
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Old 08-13-21, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
"Idyllic" and "350 mile, 2 day ride"? Is it all downhill??
it's actually 400 miles.
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Old 08-13-21, 05:49 PM
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But it's so much fun, nobody notices the extra 50 miles, amirite?
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Old 08-13-21, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
But it's so much fun, nobody notices the extra 50 miles, amirite?
Only if done correctly.
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Old 08-17-21, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
Only if done correctly.
Drunk?
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Old 08-17-21, 06:10 PM
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CtC goes from Sheetz to Sheetz, so I think you could stay inebriated if you wanted.
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