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RAGBRAI - again

Old 07-20-23, 02:45 PM
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RAGBRAI - again

Here we go again. I'm gonna ride the RAGBRAI! I'm in Iowa already. Park the car at the end point and take a shuttle tomorrow to the start point.

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Old 07-20-23, 03:06 PM
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Have fun with your ride.

I haven't completely decided whether to ride the Ames to Des Moines day as a bandit or whether to avoid RAGBRAI and come through Des Moines a day earlier or later...

I am on my quest to bicycle through the US via a number of state capitols. I saw St Paul today and next on my agenda are Des Moines and Lincoln.
​​​​​
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Old 07-20-23, 04:11 PM
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Be careful with the temps. It's going to be a HOT week. I had planned to go until my MIL broke her pelvis and waylaid all plans. Summers in Iowa are just brutal. I don't miss it. (Iowa native now in MD).
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Old 07-21-23, 11:10 AM
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RAGBRAI gets some good media today: https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/i...th-anniversary
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Old 07-22-23, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
Have fun with your ride.

I haven't completely decided whether to ride the Ames to Des Moines day as a bandit or whether to avoid RAGBRAI and come through Des Moines a day earlier or later...

I am on my quest to bicycle through the US via a number of state capitols. I saw St Paul today and next on my agenda are Des Moines and Lincoln.
​​​​​
Hit ames to DSM for sure. The temps will keep some away, but the e been trying to make it the largest ride ever in the world. Some Italy ride did that 20ish years ago.
It'll be a rolling circus for sure.
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Old 07-22-23, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
Be careful with the temps. It's going to be a HOT week. I had planned to go until my MIL broke her pelvis and waylaid all plans. Summers in Iowa are just brutal. I don't miss it. (Iowa native now in MD).
Last year's ragbrai stayed at 80 or under every day, and a lot of mornings it was in the low 60s.
Obviously different this year.

I see this narrative that summer is default unbearable in IA and just don't get it.
Well over half the weeks since June have been cooler than I would figure.

It's hot sometimes and cool sometimes. Go figure- weather changes, unlike the temp narrative.
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Old 07-22-23, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus
Here we go again. I'm gonna ride the RAGBRAI! I'm in Iowa already. Park the car at the end point and take a shuttle tomorrow to the start point.

That'll be an easy bike for me to see on the road- just look for the guy with a sail on his bike coasting from the breeze!

Seriously though, between the white frame bag and blue Panaracers, I'll tell out if I see ya.
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Old 07-26-23, 06:10 PM
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I did my one day RAGBRAI ride today.

I ended up with an easy day with much less climbing or distance than average this week. We went from Ames to Des Moines in a populated part of the state. I have seen a wide variety of estimates of rider numbers and today was expected to set a record.

General perceptions on limited data and comparing to other rides (particularly Ride The Rockies which I've done four times):

1. RAGBRAI is big, but also spread out. In contrast to RTR where there was often a single locus like a high school, both Ames and Des Moines had a "main campground" but also a lot more separate and different areas. It seems like various teams or providers were setting themselves up in more different places.
2. Roads were busy all day long, but only slightly congested in a few town stops. Iowa DOT expected a lot of riders and even closed major corridors, e.g. US 69, to other traffic. I went early so not sure if there was more congestion later. To compare/contrast it felt similar to congestion I saw on initial miles of Hotter than Hell 100 (with ~14,000 riders the years I cycled) but continuing all day.
3. Everyone is a vendor. The equivalent of setting up lemonade stands everywhere on the route and selling for a cause of individual. Will be interesting to see how much this also happens in less populated areas since today was populated.
4. Logistics like baggage trucks, town stops, registration seems to have been worked out.
5. Today my exercise was "beat the heat" so I was out at sunrise and in before mid-day. Will be tougher on days like tomorrow with a lot more climbing and distance - with afternoon heat advisories.

It was a fun change from my own self-supported ride to be on RAGBRAI for a day. They are generally heading east and I'm going west towards Lincoln so today was the day that made sense. My blog post: https://mvermeulen.org/gone2look4ame...oines-ragbrai/

Will be interesting to hear from others doing the ride for real and out for all seven days.
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Old 07-28-23, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by mev
Will be interesting to hear from others doing the ride for real and out for all seven days.
I did Ames - Des Moines and Des Moines - Tama yesterday.
Sad that I couldnt do the whole week with the team I have been part of for the last 7 years, but life wasnt going to allow that this year, so seeing many of them and riding alongside some groups for a few miles here and there during both days was a lot of fun.
Plug for the team I have been part of- Dream Team. Its an non-profit teen mentorship program that runs from March thru the end of July culminating in the kids all riding the full week of Ragbrai. There are 38 this year on the route and all will end with more than 1500mi, with a handful breaking 2000mi. Bikes and helmets are donated by a local shop, the program is completely free to the kids, and they ride 3x per week while doing 3 campout weekends to get used to back to back riding.
https://www.dreamteamdesmoines.org/

- The heat and humidity were brutal.
- There were a lot fewer people that I initially figured would ride each day, and that was likely due to the conditions.
- Not many crazy town activities or on route things like giant slip n slides or makeshift pools.
- Tuesday was 65mi total and only 1400' of climb. Wednesday was 89mi total and 4300' of climb. Wildly different days for terrain.
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Old 07-28-23, 02:58 PM
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More power to yíall. Donít think I could take the heat and humidity for a week.

Spent 4 days riding in the state crossing the country. It was over 100 in Dyersville, and very humid. No one bothered to ride out to the Field of Dreams, opting to hang out at the city pool instead. I and a couple of others got motel rooms. Another night we stayed in a senior center with AC. Fortunately, we were hosted for two nights in Davenport.
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Old 07-29-23, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
More power to yíall. Donít think I could take the heat and humidity for a week.

Spent 4 days riding in the state crossing the country. It was over 100 in Dyersville, and very humid. No one bothered to ride out to the Field of Dreams, opting to hang out at the city pool instead. I and a couple of others got motel rooms. Another night we stayed in a senior center with AC. Fortunately, we were hosted for two nights in Davenport.
It barely hit 80 on last year's ride and got down into the high 50s on many nights.
Next week the high is 83.
Its hardly hot and humid every day of every week each summer. This year's ride just fell in a hot week.

Having been here for almost 20 years now, it's no different from the Chicago summers I grew up on and Mississippi in the summer was way more brutal.
Does Philly not have heat waves from time to time?
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Old 07-30-23, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
It barely hit 80 on last year's ride and got down into the high 50s on many nights.
Next week the high is 83.
Its hardly hot and humid every day of every week each summer. This year's ride just fell in a hot week.

Having been here for almost 20 years now, it's no different from the Chicago summers I grew up on and Mississippi in the summer was way more brutal.
Does Philly not have heat waves from time to time?
It does, and I donít ride long distances during them. We just had one break. First time Iíve had the windows open in a while.

As Iíve aged, Iíve become less heat tolerant. Like to go to the northwest for a couple of weeks in mid-June then tour again starting in September, with maybe a couple long weekends in between if temperatures are acceptable. You can keep the lows of 85 with dew points in the 70s. The heat index the last few days was 100 or above.
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Old 07-31-23, 05:32 AM
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It was a wild ride for sure. More challenging than last year when I did it. Some veterans I have befriended said it was the hardest they ever remember. The heat days were quite dangerous to those who have heart condition. I have personally seen multiple events of rescues and people having some kind of serious distress. Multiply this by all day riders that I missed and one could easily surmise there were at least 100 medical events per day. No matter how you slice it, riding 100 or close to 100 miles per day is no joke and those who think Iowa is flat were proven wrong, severely.

Great experience for me. We had a great time. My friend Eric in the Celtics jersey experienced RAGBRAI for the first time, this was my second. We bought are open to do it again next year :-)


















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Old 07-31-23, 05:33 AM
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Here are a few photos from the ride
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Old 07-31-23, 08:13 AM
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What a RAGBRAI that was! We did the first four days. I keep seeing all the comments about how hot it was. Maybe it's because we trained in Oklahoma this summer where riding in over 100F isn't uncommon, but we thought it was downright pleasant. That being said we only rode to Des Moines, but it was getting much hotter by Wednesday evening. Glad we were done then. The Monday back to work hangover is real. Came back to a broken AC unit and a 96F house....
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Old 07-31-23, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
It barely hit 80 on last year's ride and got down into the high 50s on many nights.
Next week the high is 83.
Its hardly hot and humid every day of every week each summer. This year's ride just fell in a hot week.
With the (relatively) cool temps and mostly favorable winds, there was a lot of chatter among my team that it would be hard to top last year's conditions.

Our team is composed of some very tough people, but we still had lots of saggers at times this year. Fun is our primary objective, and we made sure to have that.
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Old 07-31-23, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by shoota
What a RAGBRAI that was! We did the first four days. I keep seeing all the comments about how hot it was. Maybe it's because we trained in Oklahoma this summer where riding in over 100F isn't uncommon, but we thought it was downright pleasant. That being said we only rode to Des Moines, but it was getting much hotter by Wednesday evening. Glad we were done then. The Monday back to work hangover is real. Came back to a broken AC unit and a 96F house....
First 4 days weren't bad at all. Days 5 and 6 had the agonizing quadfecta of heat, hills, humidity, and headwinds
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Old 07-31-23, 04:26 PM
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Fun fact: in celebration of the 25th year of Shimano cycling sandals, Shimano put the outline of the state of Iowa on the heel strap to honor how popular the sandals are on RAGBRAI.

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Old 08-04-23, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
With the (relatively) cool temps and mostly favorable winds, there was a lot of chatter among my team that it would be hard to top last year's conditions.

Our team is composed of some very tough people, but we still had lots of saggers at times this year. Fun is our primary objective, and we made sure to have that.
Exactly. I spent the week guiding my 8yo. We rode every day, but she didn't hesitate to sag on Thursday and Friday. She was running out of energy, so she took a break. I ran most of Friday without her, and had a blast (holding 16-22MPH pace instead of the 12MPH we'd been doing all week).

Hot? Yes, it was hot. Headwind? Yes, more than I would have expected (statistically). Those are just part of the ride, not worth griping about. I do think the route was poorly planned. Should have spread the hills out instead of cramming them into Thursday and Friday. Same for the variances in daily mileage. Having 55 flat miles one day and 90 hill climb miles the next day felt odd. I have no doubt that she would have ridden every mile had it been a touch easier on any one of those fronts.

We'll be back. If it's an 80-degree year, she'll probably ride every mile.
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Old 08-04-23, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by campfire
I do think the route was poorly planned. Should have spread the hills out instead of cramming them into Thursday and Friday. Same for the variances in daily mileage. Having 55 flat miles one day and 90 hill climb miles the next day felt odd. I have no doubt that she would have ridden every mile had it been a touch easier on any one of those fronts.
Yeah, this year was a special one. They tried to retrace the original 1973 route as much as possible, which was about 430 miles over only 6 days! And they're always at the mercy of which towns are willing to be pass-through or overnight towns. And this was the first route from the newest director...

As I understand it, the trend had otherwise been for the organizers to keep the route from being too long or difficult for inclusivity, so I wouldn't be surprised if next year is especially easy.
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Old 08-04-23, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
Yeah, this year was a special one. They tried to retrace the original 1973 route as much as possible, which was about 430 miles over only 6 days! And they're always at the mercy of which towns are willing to be pass-through or overnight towns. And this was the first route from the newest director...

As I understand it, the trend had otherwise been for the organizers to keep the route from being too long or difficult for inclusivity, so I wouldn't be surprised if next year is especially easy.
I don't think it's fair to blame 1973 for the hills this year. About half of the weeks climb (and all of our complaints) were on the segments North into Tama and then back South again the next day. None of which was on the 1973 route. The route planners added ~7000' of climb that could have been avoided had we stayed along either the I-80 or US-30 corridors (rather than bouncing back and forth between them). Friday could have been much flatter simply by heading East out of Belle Plaine to Swisher and then turning South to Coralville on 965. Or head straight East from Tama towards CR (a route RAGBRAI has used before).

One thing I heard several times from the organizers was that we shouldn't complain about RAGBRAI because Ride the Rockies has even more climb. So I got the impression that this year's team really likes hill climbs. That's fine, if they want to organize a hill climbing event. But that's not been the focus of RAGBRAI in the past.

This year was a lot of fun. But we would have sagged less if we hadn't been sent across the Tama hills twice, and I think that would have made the week even more fun!


Other notes from RAGBRAI L:

I'd like to see more towns. We had a bunch of 20+ mile segments this year, which is longer than I remember. And 4 or 5 times we went along the edge of a town without stopping. 3 of these towns set up a (small) presence along the route, so it's not like the towns boycotted the event. Would have been fun to see these towns up close.

I appreciated knowing about the gravel segment weeks ahead of time. This seemed to catch a bunch of people off guard, but it shouldn't have.

The Register seems to be asserting more control now than 20 years ago. Trying to enforce town curfews, strongly discouraging folks from going off-route, etc. But I still found plenty of the rogue, free-lancing spirit that characterized the RAGBRAI of yesteryear. Riding slowly, we hit many towns at or after the cutoff time, and most of them stayed open for us.

Baggage seemed to be a mess. With multiple official campgrounds in a town (Storm Lake had 13!), spread over a distance of 2 or 3 miles, it did not make sense to have just one baggage collecting point.

The century loop should not have been in the middle of a 22-mile segment between towns. We wound up skipping the loop once I realized I wasn't ready for 40 miles without a rest & resupply point.

It's still amazing! I started RAGBRAI in the 90s, and I've always enjoyed the experience. These points are intended as constructive criticism for the new leadership team. I really want to see the ride improved, as we're already making plans for RAGBRAI LI.

See you in July...
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Old 08-04-23, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
As I understand it, the trend had otherwise been for the organizers to keep the route from being too long or difficult for inclusivity, so I wouldn't be surprised if next year is especially easy.
If so, we'll likely be in the RideEveryMile club next year.
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Old 08-04-23, 01:57 PM
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As much as I relish grinding up hills, a lot of them did seem gratuitous. A few people on our team split off and took some shortcuts here and there, and received no criticism for it.

I'm happy that at least some of the wild spirit is still there -- last year, the State Trooper presence was so heavy that I fretted about how fun it would be if that trend continued. Nothing against State Troopers, but our team likes to start late and take our time, and we're experienced in getting to the end town safely, so it's a buzzkill to have 13 (!) cars gathering to shoo you along at times.

I've only been doing RAGBRAI since 2009, so anything I know about it before then is from word-of-mouth or the Internet.
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Old 01-29-24, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
As I understand it, the trend had otherwise been for the organizers to keep the route from being too long or difficult for inclusivity, so I wouldn't be surprised if next year is especially easy.
Sounds like it's not going to be easier than 2023 was. Straight out of the gate they're already hyping this year's hill count.

That being said, last year's climb numbers changed significantly between route announcement and final route maps.

Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
As much as I relish grinding up hills, a lot of them did seem gratuitous.

Cheers to gratuitous hill climbs!
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Old 02-01-24, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by campfire
Sounds like it's not going to be easier than 2023 was. Straight out of the gate they're already hyping this year's hill count.

That being said, last year's climb numbers changed significantly between route announcement and final route maps.




Cheers to gratuitous hill climbs!
I joked with the old ride director that he claimed 6 years in a row that the ride was 'the 7th longest and 7th hilliest'. It wasn't quite true, but it also wasn't exactly wrong.
And a couple of those years were absurdly flat northern routes that veered south near the end so they didn't even hit the far northeastern hills.
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