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Does the RAGBRAI count as touring?

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Does the RAGBRAI count as touring?

Old 05-22-18, 04:26 PM
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TheRef
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Does the RAGBRAI count as touring?

Doing the RAGBRAI for the first time with my 15year old son. We've done a couple of centuries and a few charity rides and we are talking about starting touring on our own. I'll use the ragbrai as a test to see how he reacts to riding day after day and sleeping on a tent.
Looking for recommendations on a solar charger to keep our lights, phones and gps watches charged.
Also not sure on what else to bring. I'm thinking of some sun sleeves and maybe a neck gaiter to keep it from getting sunburnt. Anybody using one of those that attaches to the helmet? I've seen people using but never seen one at a bike shop.
We already have decent rain jackets that pack really small and all the other riding gear ready.

I'm I forgetting anything? Maybe a cycling cap to be worn under the helmet if it rains?
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Old 05-22-18, 04:57 PM
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For trips like RAGBRAI I'd recommend getting a high capacity battery with USB outputs instead of a solar charger. Never sure how much the sun will be shining and they don't work all that well if the light is intermittent (such as cycling on a tree-lined road). You'll also be stopping in restaurants and other places where you might have a chance to recharge the battery (I'd also carry one of the little multi-outlet plugs so multiple people can use the same AC outlet).
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Old 05-22-18, 07:44 PM
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I use a neck gaiter in cold weather, in hot weather I use sunscreen. You said cap under the helmet if it rains, I prefer a helmet rain cover over the helmet instead.

You ask if it counts as touring. It does not really matter, you just have to go and have a good time. I call it touring if I am carrying all my stuff on the bike, but a lot of people call a van supported trip a "tour" if the van or trailer hauls your gear, so definitions are somewhat fluid and flexible.
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Old 05-23-18, 05:34 AM
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i think I'll have to head over to DuckDuckGo and find out what RAGBRAI is :-)
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Old 05-23-18, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
i think I'll have to head over to DuckDuckGo and find out what RAGBRAI is :-)
The annual ride across Iowa. Route changes each year. I've never done it (still on "the list") but looks like a rolling party with 10,000 of your closest friends.
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Old 05-23-18, 07:19 AM
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Yes, it is. Might not be the same touring as some here do, but there is no one type of touring, everyone has their own preferences.

I did the DALMAC in Michigan last year, similar concept to RAGBRAI. They had outlets you could use for charging in the schools you slept at overnight, but I'll agree with whomever said to get a battery pack, they got pretty crowded. I far prefer sunscreen to long sleeves, and in the middle of July in Iowa I'd probably just get my head wet if it rains. Should be plenty warm enough for anything but a torrential downpour. Don't forget a towel for showers. A larger saddle bag is nice to hold things you'll need during the day, my 9L held me and the wife's rain coat, small multitool and tubes, and my off-bike hat quite well. Handlebar bag is nice for keeping a map of the route (even if it is marked, it is still nice to be able see distances to stops/towns) and your phone, wallet, and other valuables. It is quick on and off, so you can just grab it and go when you stop for lunch or at a shop.

I've done a good job of blanking my year in Iowa from my memory, but if it is anything like Michigan, nights can get quite chilly even if it is in the 80s all day. If your raincoat is one of those plastic baggy things, may be beneficial to have arm and knee warmers until the sun gets out and warms things up.
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Old 05-23-18, 07:47 AM
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Here in Maine we have "Bike Across Maine" event...we're clearly lagging behind on the cool acronyms. ABAMR perhaps (Awesome Bike Across Maine Ride) ? :-)


Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Yes, it is. Might not be the same touring as some here do, but there is no one type of touring, everyone has their own preferences.

I did the DALMAC in Michigan last year, similar concept to RAGBRAI. They had outlets you could use for charging in the schools you slept at overnight, but I'll agree with whomever said to get a battery pack, they got pretty crowded. I far prefer sunscreen to long sleeves, and in the middle of July in Iowa I'd probably just get my head wet if it rains. Should be plenty warm enough for anything but a torrential downpour. Don't forget a towel for showers. A larger saddle bag is nice to hold things you'll need during the day, my 9L held me and the wife's rain coat, small multitool and tubes, and my off-bike hat quite well. Handlebar bag is nice for keeping a map of the route (even if it is marked, it is still nice to be able see distances to stops/towns) and your phone, wallet, and other valuables. It is quick on and off, so you can just grab it and go when you stop for lunch or at a shop.

I've done a good job of blanking my year in Iowa from my memory, but if it is anything like Michigan, nights can get quite chilly even if it is in the 80s all day. If your raincoat is one of those plastic baggy things, may be beneficial to have arm and knee warmers until the sun gets out and warms things up.
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Old 05-23-18, 08:04 AM
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Since they haul your tent on a truck , its a supported trip.
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Old 05-23-18, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by TheRef View Post
Doing the RAGBRAI for the first time with my 15year old son. We've done a couple of centuries and a few charity rides and we are talking about starting touring on our own. I'll use the ragbrai as a test to see how he reacts to riding day after day and sleeping on a tent.
For you, it does (or might). For me, no, it doesn't. You aren't wrong nor am I. We just look on it differently.

Originally Posted by TheRef View Post
Looking for recommendations on a solar charger to keep our lights, phones and gps watches charged.
​​​​​​​
That's a lot of electrical energy needed. In my experience, solar chargers can't keep up with the demand of a phone much less lights (true energy hogs) and GPS devices. I carry a external battery pack and a solar cell pack but have never found the solar cell able to keep up with the demand of only a single phone. I still need to charge them all at night on the grid.

I would suggest that you ditch the lights...you won't need them in a crowd and, frankly, they are rather annoying to your fellow riders, especially if they are blinking...and ditch the watches. Your phone can be used to track you through several apps. Ridewithgps is a good one but it will eat your phone battery...which is why I carry the external pack. If you want instantaneous speed and distance get a wired computer for the bike. The battery in those lasts for years.

Originally Posted by TheRef View Post
Also not sure on what else to bring. I'm thinking of some sun sleeves and maybe a neck gaiter to keep it from getting sunburnt. Anybody using one of those that attaches to the helmet? I've seen people using but never seen one at a bike shop.
We already have decent rain jackets that pack really small and all the other riding gear ready.

I'm I forgetting anything? Maybe a cycling cap to be worn under the helmet if it rains?
I use sunscreen. Neck gaiters and sun sleeves are just too hot for me. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 05-23-18, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Since they haul your tent on a truck , its a supported trip.
Some do, some don't. It's all up to you.
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Old 05-23-18, 12:03 PM
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One major difference between a big event like ragbrai and standard touring is the amount of people. Your son may love ragbrai but hate standard touring due to not having all the people, probably a fair amount his own age, around during the day while he is riding. When you're out there riding on a normal tour, you may not see any other bike for days/weeks on end. It can have a nice psychological effect if you're not prepared for it.
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Old 05-23-18, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
One major difference between a big event like ragbrai and standard touring is the amount of people. Your son may love ragbrai but hate standard touring due to not having all the people, probably a fair amount his own age, around during the day while he is riding. When you're out there riding on a normal tour, you may not see any other bike for days/weeks on end. It can have a nice psychological effect if you're not prepared for it.
That's exactly why I picked the Ragbrai as our first multi-day event. Not only the riding aspect but I like the idea of being a part of a 20k people circus. My son loves bike porn and look at fancy bikes and whatnot.
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Old 05-23-18, 12:44 PM
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I use sun sleeves as i hate sunscreen since it seems to just smear and collect dust. Once im hot, it doesnt seem to reapply either.
sprinkle water on sun sleeves and its nice n cool.

bring battery packs for your electronics. There are places arpund in every stop town to charge(actual booths and random outlets). You dont need headlights for riding, or better said- if you need headlights for riding, its minimal and i would be shocked if its a couple hours thru the week.

turn the phone on airplane mode for most of each ride yo save battery- no need to be connected while riding and you can still snap pics. Besides, a lot of each route has no/poor data signal. These are towns of 6000 with an influx of 10-20000. The cell towers struggle to handle and data service slows.
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Old 05-23-18, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Here in Maine we have "Bike Across Maine" event...we're clearly lagging behind on the cool acronyms. ABAMR perhaps (Awesome Bike Across Maine Ride) ? :-)
Tennessee has a cool acronym; BRAT - Bike Ride Across Tennessee. It's on my to-ride list.
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Old 05-23-18, 02:50 PM
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Counts for me. It's the highlight of our touring year every year.

Some things I find helpful on RAGBRAI that I don't usually carry on other long rides:

-You can cut the humidity with a knife in Iowa. As such, I go for max ventilation in what I wear and cover the rest with sunscreen.
-I tend to leave all my gadgets turned off, but when I do need to charge something, having an AC power strip is very helpful when 20 people want to use the same outlet.
-You spend a lot of time off the bike. I forgo clipless pedals in favor of flats and sneakers.
-Some of that time spent off the bike is also spent away from the bike. Make sure to have a secure way to carry your wallet, camera, phone, etc when looking for that perfect slice of pie in town.
-Team stickers. Be sure to come up with a cool sticker or beer koozie design you and your son can swap with other teams.
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Old 05-26-18, 06:06 AM
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Maybe not touring in the classic sense but definitely an experience! Returning this year for my second time around. No recommendation on a charger; I did carry a battery pack but don't use my phone much during the ride. The charter service I was with provided a recharging station (basically a bunch of powerstrips plugged into a portable generator) but it was always in heavy use and things recharged very slowly.

I got a helmet visor (a Rezzo by Da Brim) and used it for most of the ride; took me a bit to figure out the best way to secure it (they can be prone to wind buffeting at speed, e.g. during downhill stretches.) Da Brim has other models with varying degrees of coverage. Brought arm coolers/shields (by De Soto who makes a lot of tri gear) and didn't end up using them but it's not like they took up a lot of space.

A tent fan is nice to have - it can be pretty warm at night!
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Old 05-27-18, 05:30 AM
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Whether it is touring or not depends on what you choose to call touring. It is definitely in a different class than other types of touring. I wouldn't consider it much of an introduction to the other types of touring, but it is a lot of fun if you like that sort of ride. It is very easy to imagine someone liking one and not the other.

If I were to plan on riding RAGBRAI I'd minimize my battery needs by not bothering with much in the way of lights, leaving my phone turned off or at least in airplane mode whne not actually in use, and skipping the gps watch.

YMMV but, I am kind of inclined that way any way. I rode coast to coast without needing to change batteries in my little 2 AA blinkie or my tiny little .25 oz flashlight. I tend to go a week or more on a charge for my phone and if I choose to use it more I just carry a second phone battery.
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Old 05-27-18, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Askel View Post
-You can cut the humidity with a knife in Iowa.
^^^This^^^

One reason I have 0 interest in RAGBRAI. Spent 4 or 5 July days riding in IA while crossing the country. It was very hot and very humid every day. And corn provides very little shade.

OP: One tip a guy in my club offered: If you are riding in the masses and need to duck into a cornfield for a nature break, do so on the left side of the road. He told me one day he went on the right and had to wait a while for a gap in the bike traffic so he could re-mount and get started again.
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Old 05-27-18, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Askel View Post
Some things I find helpful on RAGBRAI that I don't usually carry on other long rides:
If you are a light sleeper, potentially also earplugs?

I haven't done RAGBRAI but I've done a few other state rides (mostly Ride the Rockies, Bicycle Tour of Colorado, Pedal the Plains and also BRAT) and agree they are a bit different socially than other touring, particularly self-supported solo touring. I've enjoyed doing both, though for different reasons. What is fun on the event rides, is that this sometimes becomes the biggest event for some of the places we pass through (*) and hence the small places really open up to showcase things. I also like seeing the variety of riders and often these things seem to be fairly supported.

On the other side of the equation, cycle touring solo gives me a sense I can go where I want, when I want and also can adjust. I meet locals as well, but in a different setting and context. I can travel to some interesting places that wouldn't fit a group. There are fewer lines for everything e.g. portable toilets, food,
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Old 05-27-18, 10:57 AM
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I just did my 2nd RAGBRAI last year and I can offer these suggestions.
_
_
  • if you have stuff to charge, bring your chargers and a muti-head extension cord. We typically used outlets at the overnight spots to recharge but had to compete with others to get outlets. We ended up buying a power strip too. Most nights we were camping at somewhere that had electricity (schools, county fairs, etc.)
  • My riding team mate had a solar charger, but mostly we used the setup above and a few spare power packs.
  • Not sure how much you and your son camp, but I just bought a good camping pillow and it made a world of difference in getting a good nights sleep. Since they let you carry 50#, I tried to use all of it. Be forewarned though, they do weigh your bags.
  • I did not use any shading devices, but did often sport long sleeves most or all of the day, and I used a lot of sunscreen. Saw a lot of folks with the brims that go on the helmets.
  • You should be able to buy anything you forget along the trip, so if you leave something out, don't sweat it.
  • There were about 10,000 riders give or take last year, so it will give you a different perspective than solo or small group tours. (Something to keep in mind)
  • Take in all the advice given and then evaluate what you think will work best for you. The ride is well supported and I think it's a excellent way to see if ride/camp/repeat works for you and your son.

    Originally Posted by mev View Post
    If you are a light sleeper, potentially also earplugs?
    Most excellent suggestion - the campgrounds are mostly quiet, but there are a ton of people there and ear plugs weigh next to nothing!

Last edited by Brad_AZ; 05-27-18 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 05-27-18, 01:46 PM
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Free internet and charging at libraries and Starbuckies! Every so often a public park has outlets at covered tables or in bathrooms. Also, look for outlets in front of supermarkets.
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Old 05-28-18, 02:46 PM
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Yes RAGBRAI counts as touring. It's a big group tour with lots of support and it's a great way to get a feel for touring. If you forget anything or get anything wrong, you'll have all the help you need. Just buy some cheap LED lights and they'll last thought the whole event. Put your phone in airplane mode until you need it. The cell phone towers get overloaded in the small towns. Getting out calls can be difficult. I would think a spare power source would be more than adequate, but I don't know much about GPS watches. You won't NEED gps along the way. You couldn't get lost if you tried. There will be plenty of places where you can get a quick charge along the way.
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Old 05-29-18, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Here in Maine we have "Bike Across Maine" event...we're clearly lagging behind on the cool acronyms. ABAMR perhaps (Awesome Bike Across Maine Ride) ? :-)
Whats wrong with BAM! ?

Originally Posted by TheRef View Post
That's exactly why I picked the Ragbrai as our first multi-day event. Not only the riding aspect but I like the idea of being a part of a 20k people circus. My son loves bike porn and look at fancy bikes and whatnot.
Do keep that in mind if you are using this as a gauge for whether he will like bike touring, that he may love this but hate solo touring. I'd probably do something like DALMAC again, but it isn't my favorite style.
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Old 05-29-18, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Whats wrong with BAM! ?
You do need a few superlatives to excite the populace. This should help.
https://www.randomlists.com/random-adjectives
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Old 05-29-18, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post


You do need a few superlatives to excite the populace. This should help.
https://www.randomlists.com/random-adjectives
The Super Barbarous BAM!

Or perhaps the Inexpensive Questionable BAM! ...
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