Concentrate first on learning how to ride safely and with endurance. RAGBRAI likely will be one of the most difficult things, physically, that you’ve ever attempted.
- Always stretch before and after riding.
- Have your bike in the best mechanical condition possible. A touring or road bike is going to be the easiest to ride and is the most common type found on RAGBRAI. A hybrid bike will be easier to ride than a mountain bike.
- Safety involves several items. The first is your helmet. DON’T GET ON A BIKE WITHOUT A HELMET. Safety equipment also includes gloves. If you fall they protect the palms of your hands. Riding safely is very important and very difficult to learn because there is no other ride like RAGBRAI in terms of just numbers of bikes. Have a mirror on your helmet or your bike and use it.
- Carry a spare inner tube in case you have a flat. There are repair vans along the route, but chances are you will be waiting in line. Even if you do not have the knowledge to change a tire yourself, someone will be glad to help.
- The greatest threat to your well-being on the route is not cars or trucks but other cyclists. Many riders may be riding for the first time surrounded by thousands of other cyclists. And, while this circumstance promotes a certain euphoria, it also holds hidden dangers, i.e., running into each other and falling down.
- Before you stop, make sure no bicycles or motor vehicles are immediately behind you. Stop at the right edge of the roadway and immediately move off the roadway. Stay clear of the roadway. Stopping is especially dangerous at the crest of a hill or on a curve.
- Call out to fellow cyclists when you are going to pass on the left or right or up the middle, or are pulling off or pulling on.
- Be predictable and don’t weave. Ride in a straight line to make it easier for those riding behind you.
- Don’t draft. Drafting in a crowd is dangerous to yourself and others around you. There is no place for it on RAGBRAI. Drafting vehicles is also dangerous and will not be tolerated on RAGBRAI.
- Ride to the right. Leave room for others to pass on your left. There have been many close calls and at least one serious accident because a passing rider was forced into the lane with oncoming traffic.
Food and Hydration
- While on your bike, be sure to carry with you at least enough money to buy the all-important food. Food, both standard fare and the unusual, is available at every turn. RAGBRAI is a major economic boost to every church, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, 4-H club, VFW post, etc. that it passes.
- It is not unusual to spend $35 per day on food and drink.
- Remember you “eat today to ride tomorrow.”
- You also should carry some type of high-energy food. (Usually food is available when you want it, but there are always times when you may need a boost.)
- Don’t put yourself in danger because you’re not drinking enough fluids. The temperature, wind, distance and previous day’s events all will determine your need for fluids. One rule of thumb is that a bicyclistPhoto of man taking a drink of water should drink water every 15 minutes, but water is not enough. You should carry at least two water bottles with you. Because we sweat and lose those precious minerals when we exercise, we have to replace them through sports drinks and other fluids. And since certain beverages can hinder the effectiveness of some important vitamins and minerals, it’s a good idea to have some vitamins on hand.
- Sugar and carbohydrates keep your body going on RAGBRAI, but don’t try to eat them all at one sitting. It’s much better to eat several times a day than to try to pedal on a full stomach. And, as all seasoned RAGBRAI riders know, there’s always a food stand just up ahead.