The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

New questions from an old dude min speed

Hello folks,
I have thought about doing this ride since I was in my early 20’s ..some 40 years ago.
Our local paper, the St.Pete Times went so far as to have its own cross state ride a couple times back in the 70’s .Of course in South Fla this worked out to 120 miles ,the idea being to start with your back wheel in the Atlantic and finish the same day with your front wheel in the gulf of Mexico.

I know that the spandex clad dude and dudettes are a large part of the crowd, but what i’d like to know is there any proportion of the crowd who rides at the 9 -10 mph pace? My wife and I both average around 9 mi. per hour on long rides on our terra trike rovers. Do many seniors participate in the ride?
Thanks in advance,

21 Replies

Profile photo of Kent
Davy Sprocket, March 11, 2013 at 8:07 am

Hi Bill and welcome!

There are a lot of 9-10 mph riders out there as well as a bunch of seniors. In fact, I believe the average age of a rider is around 45. You have all day to do one thing…..make it to the overnight town. If you hit the road by 7am, that gives you 12 hours to ride an average of about 70 miles per day. At your projected pace, that gives you 7 hours of ride time and 4-5 hours of play time along the way. The only bad thing about going 9-10mph is time in the saddle. Make sure you have plenty saddle time prior to the ride. My first year I went self-contained on a mountain bike with my wife and I bet we road 7-9 mph and loved every minute of it. Also, I see you are from Florida so hill training will be tough to simulate. Not that Iowa has mountains, but a day of rollers can tire a fellow out. I used to live in Iowa so hills were never a problem. Now I live in Kansas,(like FL without the oceans) and I hill train riding into the wind and ride my mountain bike in sandy soil. Seems to work.

Don’t sweat the pace Bill. Just join us and enjoy.




Profile photo of 10usstring
10usstring, March 11, 2013 at 8:12 am

There will be lot’s of us old farts on RAGBRAI. I’ve done it over 20 times and will turn 70 this year. I do now use a charter to make the riding expierence more enjoyable.



Profile photo of jim
jwsknk, March 11, 2013 at 8:13 am

The route is “open” meaning supported by the sag wagons, stste patrol and bike shops , from 6 am to 6 pm. the towns have closing times based on a 10 mph average. That means a town 20 miles from the overnight shuts down support services at 4:00, 10 miles out 5:00. Just try yo keep right but be aware that somebody will probably try to pass on the right at some point and no matter how slow or fast people think they are, ther is always someone faster or slower on any given day.



Profile photo of Jon Harman
Jon Harman, March 11, 2013 at 8:20 am

Ragbrai is ridden by all forms of wheeled vehicles. Roller skates, blades, skooters, trikes, unicycles, great wheels, diamond frame bikes, mountain bikes, recumbants, velomobiles, bananas,…if someone thinks of it, you will see it driven. The age breakdown favors older enthusiasts, but people young at heart of all ages participate. Whatever speed or skill level, your willingness to complete each day is all that is necessary. Time limits allow for sheltering almost all drivers from unnecessary car/truck traffic, but early morning/late evening is ridden by many. Bring a sense of adventure and a willingness to get along. It’s like a moving circus. Check it out on youtube. Most dress up in spandex, but many ride conventionally or even in costume. All facets cannot be seen, even in a week! You will not forget it, but peddlers of all types unite. Ride RIGHT!



Profile photo of Michrider
Michrider !!!, March 11, 2013 at 8:32 am

Ride at your pace and enjoy the spectacle and of course the pie, of RAGBRAI!!!!!



Profile photo of CyclingRoberto
CyclingRoberto, March 11, 2013 at 8:56 am

I’m older than you. I’m no old fart. Ride your bike at your pace. Just make sure you do proper training.



Profile photo of lawrence
knees36, March 11, 2013 at 9:41 am

Schoss…I’m in my “upper” 70’s and “ride off to the right side of the road a lot”. You will be just fine at 9-10 mph and often slower. This year can be a fairly hilly route (rolling hills every day and occasionally a serious hill that has a “name” such as Mockingbird Hill on day 2), so it would be nice to have triple cranksets on your bikes, say a touring setup with a granny gear at 24 teeth and the other two chainrings which are comfortable for you. My setup is 48/44/24 up front with a 13-32 freewheel. “Senior riders” are in quite the minority percentage-wise, but with 10,000+ riders on RAG we still make up a significant number of happy folk. Good luck and hope to see you on the road. Cheers. LP



Profile photo of derek
derek duncan, March 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

you will be fine.
there are lots of trikes going 8-10 mph.



Profile photo of KEn
KC, March 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

If you tip over from lack of speed, you’re going to slow. Anything faster than that is just fine. Just get an early start so you can enjoy your time on the route, stick to the right, and you’ll be fine.



Profile photo of Roy
RoyBoy, March 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm

For last years ride, I pushed hard early in the mornings when it was cool, riding a fair pace at 15 mph with short stops in each pass through town. Once the days got hot, I slowed way down and spent more time at towns and road side vendors, re-hydrating and having fun before moving on. Average speed for each day (breaks included) – 10 mph. Have fun, it is not a race.



Profile photo of Michael
rocker, March 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

In 2011 when I was 65 I rode in my first RAGBRAI. It was my first organized bike ride. I rode a delta trike. I followed the training program starting in April and had no problems. Join the fun!!!



Profile photo of Iceman
Iceman, March 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm


Many years ago I lived in St Pete so I know you will be more than ready for any heat you might encounter in Iowa. I also know you have few hills upon which to train so I would take every opportunity to train INTO the wind to try and make up for the flatness of Pinellas County. Otherwise, I think you would have to travel a bit north to find some hills. Follow the training suggestions you’ll get on this site – but just make sure by the time you go to Iowas in July you can ride three days straight (in Florida) for 50+ miles. And Iowa is not flat.



Profile photo of JoeB
JoeB, March 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Come on out and ride !
I am doing it for the first time this year, I am a self contained tourer so I am used to grinding along at 7-10 mph and i don’t plan on changing for this ride. In fact I may just “bag it” all the way so it feels like a tour. You won’t be the fastest but you probably won’t be the slowest. Though someone has to be I guess…hope it ain’t me : )



Profile photo of drgeorge1
drgeorge1, March 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

My average speed for all rides year-round is about 11.8 mph. It was no different for RAGBRAI last year. I was able to “catch up” with my son in pass-through towns for a fresh start and enjoyed the scenery.



Profile photo of KEn
KC, March 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I’m certainly not a fast rider by any stretch of the imagination, but I was shocked at how many people I passed last year and how many people I was able to just ride with and have a good time (my first RAGBRAI). You will find people who like to go your speed and you will make friends along the way.

I have to admit, I was a tad scared to join the fun last year, but I was glad I did. I knew 30 miles into Day 1 that I’d be back this year and many more to come. It’s wonderful (except for maybe the headwinds).



Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.








Clubs, Teams & Charters

Lost and Found


Gatherings & Meetings