The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

A Balance Between Preparation and Weight

I will be doing the entire route this year solo. How many tubes should I bring daily? Whenever I ride, I carry one tube, one compact pump, one patch kit, and I have a CO2 cartridge as a backup. This may seem excessive but I have blown two tubes in a day (stuff happens). My pump is not the best. What else should I consider?

I also carry a limited amount of bandages, alcohol wipes, a small USB light and a AAA halogen light as backup in case my headlight or rear light fail.

All of the above (except the pump) fit well in an extremely small saddle pack and they are all very light in weight, so I do not feel that this is excessive. I feel that the redundancy is more important than getting stranded.I also don;t want to be a leach on other people’s generosity.

What are your thoughts?

23 Replies

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Michrider !!!, May 11, 2013 at 5:37 am

zabo, sounds like your comfortable riding with what you czrry. It’s your ride, do it your way! Remember rule #1; HAVE FUN!!!!! Look for me on an Iowa Kurb!!!!



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Paul, May 11, 2013 at 5:45 am

Your plan sounds fine. You can also pack any extra oddball parts unique to your bike with your overnight stuff that gets hauled for you. 26″ and 700 sized tires and tubes are easiy available along the route. Other sizes, not so much.

We carry much more stuff ourselves (including raingear, that way, it does not rain) and just deal with the weight. We are slow anyway. we also like to have some spare space to carry any treasures we pick up along the way and also so that packing up after a stop is not an ordeal.

You will have 7 days to sort out what you prefer to carry or not and with so many people and so much support, packing choices don’t end up being too critical anyway.

See you on the ride!



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Pdiddly, May 11, 2013 at 9:53 am

Are you having regular flats on one wheel? That sounds a bit unusual unless you are unlucky and get tangled in a lot of road debris. I would disassemble your tires and do close inspection to see if something is caught in the tire or your rim tape is thin, etc. I’m a 200 pounder + and y very rarely flat a tire.



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SFC JKL2, May 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I’ve never had a flat on 7 Ragbrais. With that said, I carry 2 tubes and a hand full of CO2. I even used my chain tool to fix someone with a broken derailleur last year.

The good thing is you are never alone on Ragbrai. Just paying it forward.



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barb, May 11, 2013 at 8:08 pm

You’ll have 10,000+ friends for support…



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SFC JKL2, May 12, 2013 at 7:18 am

As far as weight is concerned, I think all the food and the case of beer I’ll drink will slow me down more than carrying an extra inner tube.

If your really concerned, just think about these guys carrying over 100 pounds.



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zabo, May 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm


I don’t seem to flat often, but I have had suspicions about a certain inner tube manufacturer.There was a time when I could only get their product and I seemed to get a lot of flats…particularly around the valve stems. During one ride I flatted once on both wheels.

Someone I know recommended Gator Skins. They sound expensive, but I will have to weigh my options.Given the price, I would probably opt for extra tubes.


Great pix.




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Ken, May 14, 2013 at 1:17 am


On my first RAGBRAI I was so pumped at the start that I forgot to apply sunscreen and I had none with me on the bike. By 11 am I looked like a lobster and a nice young lady gave me some sunscreen but it was too late. I finished the week but I will never forget sunscreen again!! So leave some room in your bag for SUNSCREEN.




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jwsknk, May 14, 2013 at 8:07 am

under saddle bag has 1 tube, 2 tire levers, plastic bag for seat cover, extra can coozie (usually out the tube in that), sharpie, partial roll of electrical tape, bike multitool ( wrench, screwdriver, chainbreaker)

Jersy pockets, sunscreen, lip protection, wallet, camera, swiss army knife.

Solar panel across rack for charging during the day last year, also cargo net under it in case something needs hauled like dry cloths or rain gear



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zabo, May 14, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Excellent list, jwsknk. A partial roll of tp wouldn’t hurt for emergency situations. I leave my wallet at home because of the weight, and just take money, keys and ID.

I did my first Ragbrai last year. I prepared a list of items to bring, and then reviewed the list immediately after completing the ride so that my thoughts were fresh in my mind. Some items may have been changed a bit, but I think that I did okay on most things. I am wondering about the multitool,chain breaker and Swiss Army knife. I’ll look into those.





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jwsknk, May 15, 2013 at 8:02 am

30 RAGBRAI’s, LA to DC, NO to International Falls, used chain tool twice, in Big Sur was what seemed like 20 miles from civilization at the time, would have been a real long walk. At least was able to get most gears after some tweeking. On RAGBRAI, shops closer and more support around but it’s small. the knife and scissors get used a lot more.



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Kelly P, May 22, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I agree with Ken. My first RAGBRAI I didn’t wear sunscreen Day One and my face, including lips blistered. Not pretty. SUNSCREEN.



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Iceman, May 23, 2013 at 9:27 am

Since I use tubeless clinchers, all I take in the bike under saddle bag is one tube and a CO2 (only used it once in over two years for inch long cut from glass, too big for sealant to seal) and some tire levers and a mini tool.

I hang a small tube of sunscreen off the saddle with a carabiner. I take two water bottles – you never know.

I have a plastic sleeve – sort of a thick baggie – that seals against moisture and put my cash, one credit card & drivers license, and cell phone. That goes in my jersey pocket.

The only time I take anything else is if it is cold (arm warmers) or raining (wind jacket) as I start. It would have to be 100% chance of rain for me to take the jacket at the start but not wearing it.

Having said all that, before I go on a week long ride I always: (i) Get the bike tuned; (ii) Replace the sealant in my tires and check for items piercing the tires; (iii) check and clean the chain if the bike tune did not do that; (iv) put – in my baggage so I can work on the bike at night – an extra folded tire which really is not necessary but I’m sort of compulsive, two extra tire valves, three 2 oz. bottles of Stans tire sealant.



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Pdiddly, May 23, 2013 at 10:24 am

jwsknk: under saddle bag has 1 tube, 2 tire levers, plastic bag for seat cover, extra can coozie (usually out the tube in that), sharpie, partial roll of electrical tape, bike multitool ( wrench, screwdriver, chainbreaker)

Really? a sharpie pen? Are you handing out autographs? I’m gonna have you sign my jersey when I find you on the ride! LOL.

Zabo, it does sound like a manufacturing issue if you’re failing around the valve stem and your rim tape is intact and you have no sharp burrs around the valve stem hole.



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Here4TheRide, May 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm

jwsknk: 30 RAGBRAI’s, LA to DC, NO to International Falls…

Brother, I want to grow up to be just like you! 🙂
I’ll bet you have some amazing stories of your adventures on two wheels.
I’m new to this whole long-distance bike touring gig, but I’d very much like to buy you a beverage one evening on the ride and listen to some perspective and wisdom from a veteran such as yourself.



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