RAGBRAI LI Day Passes are still available!

13 year Olds

is this event appropriate for 13 year old girls?

35 Replies

Michrider !!!, October 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

With their family?  YES!


Sandaltan ., October 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm

The Wingman’s 13 year old daughter rode with us for the first four days one year.   She did fine except we had to drag her out of bed every morning…she never has been a “morning person” unless your morning starts at 10:00 am.   Day  five, as we had planned, her grandpa picked her up and they headed for the pool and a few days of Grandma’s home cooking.  Some kids will love it and some will hate it.  Have a plan that will allow her to bail out if she desires.  A grumpy parent and a whiny kid do not make for good memories.



Pirate Brewer, October 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I took my son for his first time when he was 14 yrs old.  I realize that’s older than 13 but you still have the same issues.  You will have a child to train, a child to watch, and a child to keep bicycle ride safety in mind.  Make sure she gets a chance to ride with people prior to RAGBRAI, especially when other riders tend to ride close at times (think of the hills when riders are changing position).  I wouldn’t plan on spending time at the beer tents; plan to spend quality time with her and do things fun for her age.  There are many things to do that both adults and children can enjoy together.  My son had so much fun he had to do this ride with me a few more times.  Now he’s in college and old enough to use the beer tents but he is too busy earning money for school and doesn’t have time to enjoy RAGBRAI.  I recommend bringing her before she gets too busy.  You’ll both remember this for the rest of your lives.  Carry walkie talkies in case you get separated.


“Bicycle Bill”, October 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm

On the whole, I agree with the Kentucky Kurbsitter (Michrider) and Pirate Brewer.

However, remember that like any other event which draws a large number of people, it is entirely possible that there may be some random things one will come across (skinny-dipping in a roadside pond, public intoxication, or ‘public displays of affection’, for example) that may be inappropriate for 13-year-olds.  Under no circumstances would I let a 13-year-old on this ride alone.  Parental supervision and support are (or should be) mandatory.



SFC JKL 2, October 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I would love to do this with my kids but have little hope of it ever happening. (neither kid rides or has any interest in sports).  On the other side, this is my only time away from the family(not work related) and I’d hate to give up my beer time.

My intermediate solution would be to have her bring a friend.  You could spend time together but still have a wingman for her to be safe with, but not have to be with you all week.


Tony, October 19, 2011 at 2:32 am

Yes, it is a family event as well as an adult event. There are plenty of family things to do on RAGBRAI. There is allot of adult partying going on too. But it is easy to isolate from it. As most of that is in the bars and beer gardens. The rest of it is more like a county fair atmosphere. As stated above I think as long as there is parental supervision everyone will be fine. Whats you should be concerned the most with, is her ability to ride 7 days in a row for an average of 75 miles a day. She will need the proper training. I will be making a cut off at age 12 for applicants to our group. Anyone under that age will need prior permission before being able to register with us. I also will not allow babies in our group. Unless the rider has there own sag. RAGBRAI will not allow small children in there sags because of child safety seat laws. You must have a plan in case the child has to abandon the event. We had a lady this year with an 18 month old baby on the ride. With 110 plus heat indexes. It was ridiculous to have a child in a bike trailer all day. She wanted RAGBRAI to sag her child. But they cant. They have no safety seats. Its illegal to ride a child in your lap. Then she wanted me to sag her child in one of the rental trucks. Again we couldn’t due to legal restrictions. She had to get someone to come and get her. So please be aware its YOUR responsibility to provide for your child. Check with RAGBRAI, your charter / club / team before bringing them.


biking mama, October 19, 2011 at 6:43 am

My 7 year old daughter completed all of Ragbrai XXXVIII as the stoker on our tandem. We tested out multi day rides with a 2 day 150 mile ride when she was 6 to ensure that she had a glimpse of the realities of sitting on a bike all day long.

The week was a fabulous time for the 2 of us. It is a completely different experience to ride Ragbrai with your child; make sure that you’re mentally ready to be parenting for the entire week.

Tony’s advice to have a back up plan is great. We rode thru the cold, wind, rain, thunder and lightening on day 6 (in a futile search for the sag wagon). My daughter is planning to ride again next summer; I’ll have a backup plan, other than the Ragbrai sag wagon, in place before we start out on July 22nd.

If your daughter really really really wants to ride Ragbrai, the experience will be fabulous for her and for you. Best wishes on making this decision.


sunny7, October 19, 2011 at 6:48 am

Having brought 12 & 13 year olds on the ride, I think you need to evaluate whether a child is 1) physically capable of riding all week-planning for them to ride a half day and get picked up works for some, but increases the logistical headaches, 2) mentally tough enough-imagine them in a hard rain for 2 hours, or wandering from church to church with you, hungry at night when everybody has run out of food-can they handle it?, and 3) independent enough-even though you might plan to ride with them, if separated, will they know what to do, will they be ok on their own for a few hours until you find each other again?

I wouldn’t trade the years I rode with my kids for anything, we had a great time and have many wonderful memories.  They rode with me as adults a couple years ago, reassuring me that taking them as young teens was a good idea. 

But before you take young teens go into it with your eyes wide open. And be ready to focus on them during the ride as others have said.  


Sandaltan ., October 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

Great posts by all.  And Tony………..I never thought about child safety seats.  So, yeah if you insist on bringing the little one you better have a steel clad back up plan.  (Asking someone to baby-sit your 18 month-old child!!!!  What a fool.)



KittySlayer, November 15, 2011 at 10:37 am

sunny7 said: 
1) physically capable…
2) mentally tough enough…
3) independent enough… 

Great advice from Sunny!

Have been taking my son on week long tours since he was seven. He is now 23 and races at the collegiate level. Weeklong tours like RAGBRAI and the related training helped make him the man he is now.

1) He is a college athlete.
2) He can sit in a lifeguard chair for hours in blazing summer sun and cold fall evenings.
3) He could navigate his way through an airport and travel across the country by himself as a young teenager.

While many people enjoy the adult activities in Iowa there is plenty to do during the week for a father and daughter. Remember too that a lot of the talk is just that. Many of the riders are “old” and often need an afternoon nap so they can drink a couple of beers at the beer tent before crawling into bed before the sun sets. Based on the average age these riders are reliving their youth, but only in their minds.

Keep in mind as you evaluate whether your kid cam meet the three criteria Sunny list are you ready?

1) Can you keep it fun for your kid, even when you are tired and grouchy?
2) Can you motivate your kid through the tough parts so they don’t give up easiliy?
3) Are you physically capable? Basically think of the ride as being 150% harder than if you did it by yourself as you ad in extra physical and mental stress of being responsible for two people.
4) Can you properly train and plan? Be in great shape, learn all the little tricks and motivators that you can use to help a weak cyclist ride beyond their abilities?

Whatever you decide, find a weekend two day overnight tour for a practice run.


mcpartla, November 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I took our 13-year old grandson with me in 2006 and he biked every mile including the century and he had never biked all that much because his parents (our son) were afraid of bicycling on the road.  Alex biked with me again in 2007 along with his 13-year old cousin (also our grandson) and both biked Ragbrai with me again in 2008 but then lost interest.  I look back on those three years with great fondness … both Alex and Zack have grown up to be fine young men.  Alex is serving with the US Marines today in Afghanistan and we’re really proud of him (and scared for his safety of course!). 2012 will be my 9th consecutive Ragbrai.


kicks9, November 18, 2011 at 10:16 am

Just make sure they are comfortable riding in groups.  I saw a kid wipe out last year because he got boxed in and nervous.  He had some nice road rash, but was fine in the long run, I think it was only him and his dad that crashed, which is amazing considing It was a busy morning and it was elbow to elbow.  Some idiots were riding way too fast for how busy it was and that never helps. 



Lowrydr, January 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

My son did his first at 10 1/2 on an iron huffy 10 speed in 89. He has been back for several since. My oldest girl went on a tandem (green with white lizzards in the custom paint, did it myself & friend) with me in 95, which consisted of riding out to the start and back home after end town. She was 11 and had a blast, hasn’t been back since. Change of lifestyle for her, but still talks about.


BackInTheSaddleAgain, January 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm

With the huge crowds, especially as things bunch up in the stopover towns, I would recommend considering the riding with her on a tandem.  It’s a big, continuous challenge not to get separated, and, if you are a strong biker, you can take on a larger amount of the work during times when she isn’t willing or able to put in full effort. 


Vediovis, February 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm

My 10-year-old daughter did the entire route in 2010 and will do the whole thing again this year at age 12. She wasn’t blown away by it and seemed to enjoy the whole thing. Do you want a back-up plan? Sure. Is the kid horribly out of shape? Then there’s a hurdle. Kicks9 is spot on, though: make sure the child has experience maneuvering on streets and with other riders near (including general bike etiquette).

As mcpartla notes, these can be great memories for when kids get “grown up” and drift away (although my 21-year-old son, who did 2002 and 2006 will be back this year!).


Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 35 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.


RAGBRAI L – 2023




Gatherings & Meetings

Lost and Found


Clubs, Teams & Charters