Ed, some people like to ride to whatever river happens to be close to the left coast of Iowa. However, there is a lot going on, there is a lot of traffic and most people just don’t have the time! I usually don’t get to the start town until after 3 PM. Personally, I don’t really care about dipping before the ride. I’d rather get set up and enjoy a beverage or three in the shade!
no organized ride to the river , Missouri or Big Sioux north of Sioux City. Depends on where we start if we go near it on Sunday or not. Saturday (Day Ought) is usually consumed with getting there, setting up, catching up with people, eating for tomorrow and the bike expo, usually followed by a band or two and fireworks around 10-11:00
Depends on exactly where the starting point is. Most of the time I would get to the start town on Friday, which would give me all day Saturday to unbox my bike and make sure everything was still in proper working order and make necessary adjustments if it wasn’t. A quick ten or twenty mile ‘milk-run’ ride to the river was just a final tuneup before the Main Event started on Sunday. -”BB”-
Iowa is bordered by rivers on both the “west coast” and the “east coast.” On the west is the Missouri River to where the Big Sioux River flows into the Missouri at Sioux City and then the Big Sioux River becomes part of the “west coast” of Iowa running further north to the Minnesota/South Dakota border. On the “east coast” is the Mississippi River. Iowa is the only state in the US of A which is bordered on both sides by rivers. So, if our RAG start town is at Sioux City or further south you dip your tires in the Missouri River. It the RAG start town is somewhere north of Sioux City it is perfectly “acceptable” to dip your tire in the Big Sioux River as your “tradition” to start your ride, cycling every mile across Iowa and finishing up your ride by dipping your tire in the Mississippi a week later. Many riders, especially virgin RAGBRAI’er’s, opt to dip the tires on the “west coast”, then ride every mile across Iowa and dip their tires in the Mississippi. Many of the “old timers” of RAG opt to just start the ride from wherever the start town is located and dip their tires in the Mississippi the following Saturday. Iowa also has the “Iowa Divide”, a topographical feature which is often quite noticeable when you bike across the Divide about the 2nd or 3rd day of RAG. The hills seem longer going up on the west side of Iowa and they seem longer going down on the east side of Iowa. Fun!!! Cheers.
I’ve dipped a few times at the starting town, especially my first RAG (1981) and almost always dip at the Mississippi, and then often ride again on Sunday into Illinois somewhere before heading back west and home. Funsville.
The best part about Sat. is catching up with friends from around the country you maybe only see one week out of the year. For Virgins & Newbies the spectacle of 1000′s of riders showing up to ride a week across Iowa is amazing.
After 23 years I still get excited, but Day 0 has lost some of the ‘Awe Factor’. I’m more interested in getting on my bike that first morning. Knowing that no matter how hot, cold, windy, rainy, hilly, crowded, the route is; I’m going to ride to the next town and figure out how to have a good time doing it. I’m on Vacation!
The terms “spectacle” and “awe factor” are good descriptions of what you see when our circus comes to town. Biking into town about 10 on Saturday morning and watching RAGBRAI blossom has been one of my greatest pleasures on the ride the last three years.
Saturday, in the start town (to be announced Jan 26th), the day before the ride begins, is magical.
Riders, world-wide, make their final decent on this cycling mecca, a single spot in the Iowa countryside, with one thing in common; A quest to eat, drink, mingle, dance and set sail on a full day’s bike ride… all day… every day… for SEVEN days… on a seemingly-endless ribbon of highway, hills and byways, with 20,000 other bicyclists. Just think of the possibilities!
Some riders head to the start town a day or two early just so they can absorb it at leisure. But all the major bicycle, accessory, clothing manufactures, food and repair booths will beat them to the punch to formulate RAGBRAI EXPO!
In 2010, on this forum we tried to organize a Saturday afternoon, 3-state ride.
Start town was Sioux City. Lot’s of interest and posts ahead of time, but there ended up only being four of us. Still, we had a blast, having a beer in Nebraska, then stopping at a casino (and having a beer) in South Dakota! The loop was about 30-miles, and included the Missouri River Dip on the way back.