The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

2013 RAGBRAI – Single Speed/Fixie's

This will be my first RAGBRAI and I am considering a single speed bike to do it on.

Who’s done RAGBRAI this way? Any advice is appreciated.

Who’s also planning to do it this way?

15 Replies

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velomel, April 17, 2013 at 7:40 am

I’ve seen single/fixed bikes on RAGBRAI. Iowa is not flat. If you’re riding fixed, the challenge isn’t as much going uphill as it is going down.
Also it can make for some pretty long days when there is an all day headwind.
I also enjoy the beauty and simplicity of riding single/fixed, but on RAGBRAI I’ll keep my derailleur thanks




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Dan in Iowa, April 17, 2013 at 9:15 am

I was seriously looking into that myself….the single speed not a fixie. This would be the year to do it! It looks like one or 2 of the days after Des Moines will be a bit hilly, but otherwise not bad. The thing is, I pull my BOB too. I’ve done it with the single speed, but my knees ache a lot from that. My Waterford was broken down for a bit and when I got it all put back together, I realized how much NOT fun the single speed was on the longer rides and gave up the idea.



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FixedYoda, April 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I have ridden from Dallas to Austin TX 4 times fixed(240 miles, 2 and 3 days)and once to New Braunfels TX(300miles 3days). I plan on riding fixed(75 gear inches 48×17 46×16 look up a gear chart) with a front brake to same my knees. As a backup I have freewheel also, but don’t intend on using it. I think there are 2 other riders from the BIG D that are going to be riding with similar setups. I have pulled a trailer with my fixie but do not recommend it!!! On down hills get out of the pedals us your brake to control decent,this is dangerous, but practice getting back in to the pedals and you shouldn’t have any problems. Hope this Helps. FIXIE FOREVER!!!!!!!



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ThinkPie, April 17, 2013 at 6:26 pm

My neice’s boyfriend rode a fixie pulling a BOB trailer, and every morning before he started out he ran a 10K. This was the 2011 ride which he did from start to finish. He is about 5’10” and 140 lbs.



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Scott E Schwartz, April 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I’m also seriously considering riding my fixie. I’m trying to find info on the length of hills and steepness. I’ve done three MS Rides on the fixie and was fine, but the terrain was pretty flat. Anyone know if we’re talking about just rollers of 3% – 6%, which are fine, or are there short but 10% + grades? I’m in Virginia and have never ridden in (or even been to) Iowa, so I’m totally clueless on terrain. Thanks.



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jwsknk, April 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm

these guys have their maps up, that will give you some idea. wow, approximently 15,843 feet of climb for the 7 days. most day 2 with 3329 over 82 +/- miles, more of each if you do the optional “Century” loop, least day 6 with 1108 over 52 miles



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Scott E Schwartz, April 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm

JWSKNK – Thanks! Very helpful info. Now that I’ve seen the data, I’ll probably do it, although now I’m just considering whether to flip to single-speed. It’s a lot of total climbing, but it’s not a race, there’s plenty of rest opportunity, and the worst thing that can happen is I’ll SAG, and start again the next morning.



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Jack in VA, April 25, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I’ve done my last 4 RAGBRAI’s fixed; started out the first year with the freewheel on but flipped it over on day 2. Riding around eastern Virginia is quite flat, and I run a 48 x 16 here. For Iowa I use a 19 on the a$$ end – it’s a little slower on the flats but sure helps getting up the hills. I have had to walk a few; the D.M. River valley climbs last year on the century day (THREE OF THEM – DAMN), Potters Hill, and a few years ago I tried Snake Alley uphill – changed my mind after about 25 feet.

Don’t worry about it or overthink it – GO FOR IT! You will be surprised at the number of other fixies out there! Too bad I can’t be one of ’em this year! Me and my broke-a$$ achilles will be thinking of you all in July! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR THOUGH!!!



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Jack in VA, April 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm

ALSO – There isn’t a hill made that I haven’t been able to walk up (if needed).And push my bike too!
Scott – where in VA are you? I’m in Tidewater (Hampton – Norfolk area)



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Scott E Schwartz, April 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

I’m in Alexandria and ride the fixie as my commute bike, as well as weekends (when in the mood) up into Potomac, and as far as Poolesville. I’ve done a couple Seagull Century’s on the fixie. It’s a Felt full track geometry – the TK2, but I’ve switched out standard track gearing for a 45 x17 – easier to go up, not so much coming down. I use a front brake, though, so I think it’ll be fine. With the data link JWSKNK posted, I think the fixie is very doable for the terrain. I want something memorable because I’m riding for a cause – Ovarian Cancer research (I lost a childhood friend last year) and so I want this to be as memorable a ride as possible. I don’t have a tall bike, so the fixie is it for me! I’m looking into a tracking app so my supporters can track my progress for the week. If anyone has used one – let me know. Jack, I do hope your achilles mends well and you have many RAGBRAI’s, et al., in the future. Just let yourself fully recover.



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B. Ewing, May 31, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Now that we are under 60 days away, I wanted to bump this thread. Those who are considering single speed, what kind of bike and gearing are planned?

Any thoughts on the following bikes:
Giant Bowery
Specialized Langster
Kona Paddy Wagon



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Scott E Schwartz, May 31, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I’ll be on a fixie, track geometry, – Felt TK2 – 45 x 17. I’ll be looking for other fixies/ss.



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Schoepp, June 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

I’ll be sporting my fixie this year too. Last year I road with a full cassette because I had never done this before and thought I’d have a rough time with the hills. Wrong.
This year will be a much flatter route and I’ve always felt much more comfortable on my fixie anyway. Worst case scenario, I’ll flip her to ss for downhill ease. You can always take the ride slower as well. I say do it!



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Robbie Helgason, June 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Hey I have a 2011 Trek 4th District for sale for $500 cash in Des Moines if anyone’s interested. Here’s a link to some pics/details. 56cm.



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