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Who's ridden RAGBRAI?(15 posts)

Who's ridden RAGBRAI?rs3o
Jan 19, 2004 1:32 PM
So my Iowa-raised wife (and former RAGBRAI rider) was talking to a friend of hers she hadn't spoken to in a while and found out that the friend had ridden RAGBRAI this past summer. Of course, our conversation topic of the evening was the possibility of us riding RAGBRAI this coming summer in lieu of going to Italy or the south of France for a road biking vacation.

So, I just want to know what I'd be getting into (or what I'm going to try to get out of). What's it like? Is it a pain riding with 9,999 other cyclists? I've never ridden this sort of distance. Will it be easier if I regularly ride and train at 7000 to 10,000 feet altitude (I would guess not much)? Is the camping mayhem worth it? I'm a vegetarian; is there anything to eat besides pork chops? Worse, I'm a beer snob; is there any good beer? I bet after about day three, any beer will be a good beer.

Oh, one of the advantages I see is that we would get credit for visiting my mother-in-law (she lives in Des Moines).
not for youColnagoFE
Jan 19, 2004 2:00 PM
I grew up in Iowa--other than the college towns--not much vegetarian fare unless you like to eat pancakes and peanut butter sandwiches all day or like scoping out your own restaurants that probably offer pasta primavera or a lettuce salad as a vegetarian option. Good beer? You can probably find it, but PBR, Bud and Miller Lite are the normal fare in rural Iowa. Daytime it can get hot as heck and very humid. Plusses are that you pass a lot of cornfields so you never have problems finding a bathroom. People in rural Iowa are super-nice and put on a good welcome for the cyclists. Nighttime activities (sometimes also daytime) can get a bit rowdy and if you aren't a party-person this may not be the ride for you. Terrain is flat till you get way east, but massive headwinds sometimes make up for it.
re: Who's ridden RAGBRAI?cydswipe
Jan 19, 2004 2:09 PM
I've been on 9 Ragbrais. This summer will make 10. I guess it will be as fun as you want to make it. I can say this: Riding with such a large group can be interesting to say the least, There are lots of different skill levels on the road. Get used to lines, as in waiting lines, for food, showers, beer, etc. There are lots of good eats on the ride. The route doesn't come out until the first of Feb. or so. Your cuisine dillema might be affected as to if we stay in any larger cities this year. Same with the beer. You want to drink or not? As far as training. It depends on how you regularly ride. I've got a lot of info. Feel free to email me.
It's a good time!
All camping??lyleseven
Jan 19, 2004 6:15 PM
Are there available accommodations to avoid camping along the route?
I never stayed at hotels or motels, but....BrianU
Jan 19, 2004 9:46 PM
I have seen others that did. The route comes out the 31st of this month. If you are willing to spend the money, go to the RAGBRAI website and wait for the route to be posted. As soon as it is posted, get on the phone and start calling. From what I have been told, places fill up quick, so start calling asap.

Jan 20, 2004 7:59 AM
camping is part of the Ragbrai "experience". So is taking a cold shower in a car wash. Butch up! ;)
Camping onlybimini
Jan 21, 2004 6:12 AM
Now, if you get on the phone to the few hotels along the route the moment that RAGBRAI announces the layover towns you may have a chance to snag a hotel room. Rooms are booked up the same day the towns are announced.

Now you may be able to find rooms 30-40 miles away from the route, but then you miss the experience.
Jan 19, 2004 3:45 PM
I rode all of RAGBRAI for the first time last year. I had ridden a couple days of a previous years route but this was my first time doing the whole thing. I too eat a vegetarian diet, I had initially planned on buying and preparing my own meals but it turned out there was usually ample choices for a meat free meal. there was a place that set up along the ride between towns that sold veg. "sloppy joes" that I hit several days. beyond that, there were always spaghetti dinners at churches and they could all be served without meat sauce. I found a church serving vegetarian lasagna on the 3rd night. there was a mexican place that had vegie quesadilas most nights. it wasnt ever really a problem, I ate well enough. as to the beer selection, itll probably be a bit more limited, I had a few sam adams most nights but never sought out anything too exotic.
All that having been said, I'm not sure Id sacrifice a trip to Europe to do it. not sure I wouldnt, depends what you enjoy in a cycling vaca. As to training for it, if you ride with any regularity at all youll be fine. theres sag service if you dont...but its really not a grueling undertaking. Youve got all day to ride 60 to 100 miles.
I did it in 2000, 2001 and I'm getting ready to.....BrianU
Jan 19, 2004 10:25 PM
do it this year. It is a great time and as long as you do not go there with a race mentality, all the other riders make for a lot of interesting people to meet. Do I think it would better than a road biking vacation in Italy or France? I lived in Sicily from 1989 to 1992 and traveled all over Europe. I do not believe biking in Iowa could compare to riding in the Alps.
On that note, you mentioned you have never ridden the sort of distance that the RAGBRAI covers, which I will say averages about 75 miles a day. Some days more, some less. IMO, if you are not easily up to that sort of riding, I would not spend the money to go to Europe. Do the RAGBRAI first and get a good feel for what it is like to spend a week on a bike.

if you're a veggie beer snobMJ
Jan 20, 2004 3:17 AM
they may not let you into Iowa in the first place...
We would let him in,Turtleherder
Jan 20, 2004 8:06 AM
but he would have to wear a sign around his neck. Something like "if found on the side of the road, feed only corn and Guinness." My two favorite vegetarian quotes: If god didn't want us to eat animals why did he make them out of meat? and Just because you can't hear it doesn't mean the carrot doesn't scream when you pull it from the ground.
Reverend Horton Heat - "Eat Steak" is mine - nmMJ
Jan 20, 2004 8:35 AM
RAGBRAI is an "easy" ridebimini
Jan 21, 2004 6:02 AM
The total milage is a lot, but the miles per day is low and it's just a mater of finding the pace that is right for you. Stops every 15 to 20 miles with plenty to eat. Iowa is flat to rolling hills. There is a lot of complaining about the route if there is more than 2000 feet of accumulated rise in a single day. The wind is more of an impact. Normally the wind in Iowa is West to East which is the dirrection of travel, but the wind does not always behave properly.

The food is farm food. Homemade pies and cakes, fruit, corn, corn and more corn and of course lots O Pork. If your after Californian vegitarian cuisine, your out of luck.

With beer you have your choice of Bud or Miller. You may be able to find a Heine or Guiness in a store in some of the larger layover towns.

RAGBRAI is a party ride, the hard cores would get bored with it. Yes, there is the early morning racer types and plenty of paceline if you want, but that is not what it is about. The whole state supports and embraces it. Towns vie for a chance to have RAGBRAI come through there little towns, and the whole town turns out to make it a good experience for the riders. It is like a long parade. People line up along the streets of the small towns to cheer on the riders, with 10,000+ (more like 13,000-15,000) it is a long parade that lasts for hours. A lot of folks try to outdo each other by wearing unique costumes. It is an even that is all about fun. Think of it as a traveling state fair.

The total number of people is not a real problem. Some roads are shut down on the other roads bike take over the right side of the road. It can be a little crowded at certain times of the morning but things get spread out quickly. The shower lines are the only time the crowds bother me.

If food and beer is a big problem, sign up with one of the "teams". A team is a party bus that carts your gear. Pack a couple of coolers, one with beer and the other with foods you can eat.

IOWA ain't Italy but RAGBRAI is the worlds largest participatory cycling event and is worth going to at least once.

PS: I am bias, I live in IA
Thanks all! (nm)rs3o
Jan 21, 2004 7:45 AM
totally agree...especially about joining a teamColnagoFE
Jan 21, 2004 7:48 AM
I'd suggest joining a team anyway. You are guaranteed to get in and they have a camp spot waiting for you each nite with cold beer ready to drink.