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Advice for Virgins

Hey watched the film “A Million Spokes” a few weeks ago.  Found it by accident one night really late.  Now watching this film and all the different riders I wanted to get some feedback on if “Weekend Riders” could handle the trip?  It looks doable to me since you can go at your own pace.  Plan on doing a charter thing so I don’t have to haul a tent and all since I will be coming out of Southern California.  Any advice would be great.  Looks like a fun ride and would love to come out and “unplug” for a week or two. 

39 Replies

OhioCyclone, November 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Ppenka, i would samy it is doable. Last year was my first RAGBRAI and I completed 290 miles of the total 454 miles on the trip. I am a graduate student that is unfortunately not able to get out and ride as muchas I would like. I had around 250 training miles spread out between April and the beginning of July. The ride, although I did not finish was one of the hardest and most rewarding expresences of my life. If I would have heeded my peers from this forum and gotten more training prep miles I would have been fine.

They say to get at least the length of the ride in on road riding before the end of July. This is more than manageable in weekend rides if you start at thee right time.

I should also add that I am not exactly in shape. A few knee surgeries and a couple extra forty pounds may have hindered the process. All I k ow is that I will be back for 2012, and my goal is full completion:)


ppenka, November 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Hey thanks guys.  I have already started to save my money to do this.  Thinking about the “panpered Peddler” thing.  I have got over 6oo miules on my Specialized and think I would be ok with it.  What about locking your bike?  I have to much $$$$$$$$$$$ invested in mine. 


KittySlayer, November 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm

The bike riding is the easy part. The challenge is all the people and the logistics.

1) If you have never camped you need to try sleeping outside a few times. Borrow a tent and sleep in your back yard overnight. Ideally a weekend bike tour where you pack your bags, ride to someplace 50 miles away. Spend the night camping and then ride home 50 miles. Find out what you need to pack to be comfortable and more importantly what not to pack.

2) Learn how to ride around other people. While RAGBRAI is not a race having some racing skills will serve you well as you try to cross Iowa with 15,000 of your closest friends. Find an old (or young) racer and have them teach you some group riding skills in a grassy area. Practice some wheel rubs and learn how to turn into the wheel to stay up instead of turning away. Rub elbows and lean into each other so you know how to react when you make contact with another rider. Learn how to ride in a straight line, bunny hop a road hazard, slide your butt back in an emergency stop…

3) While the riding is the easy part of the week the more training miles you put in before hand will leave you more energy to deal with all the other challanges of the week. Try to get in as many group rides where you can practice the skills you learn in step 2. Also those training miles will leave you the energy to enjoy the many wonders of the ride because it is really fun!


MadCow, November 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I plan on riding my mountain bike.  Do you see many such bikes on the ride?  How do they fare?


Pirate Brewer, November 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm

madcow said: I plan on riding my mountain bike.  Do you see many such bikes on the ride?  How do they fare?

Did one RAGBRAI (XXX) on my mountain bike with my 14 yr old son and he insisted on his mountain bike too.  We did just fine but slower.  I recommend getting some slicks and that will help.  On the following year I had my road bike and my son again insisted on bringing his mountain bike.  After smoking him on the road he finally decided the road bike was the way to go on the future rides.  Either way is fine.  I seem to always see someone with the trail tires on a mountain bike and they seem to be doing fine but it will be tougher.


Michrider !!!, November 22, 2011 at 6:19 am

madcow said: I plan on riding my mountain bike.  Do you see many such bikes on the ride?  How do they fare?

Madcow, you will see all types of bikes on RAGBRAI!  There is no wrong way to do RAGBRAI!  See you in July!!!!


jwsknk, November 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

madcow, slicks and bar ends, you will want to be able to shift positions once and awhile. ppenka, some charters like Pork Belly, have a tent rental and they set up and tear down those too, costs a bit more, Michrider has done it that way. He knows about Bubbas too. And the lock, probably not, depends on the overnight towns, mostly secure but you hear of 2-3 dissappearing each year, mostly easy targets at night. I take a tent big enough to put the bike in. Keeps it dry, out of the way so no one steps on it in the night, and secure.Where in SoCal? riding the Venice Beach trail on weekends a few times should introduce you to crowds. We have a couple coming out from that way and trying to talk a friend from near LA to come home and do it again.


pmac, November 22, 2011 at 8:34 am

While there is always a few folks who claim that they did no training and had no problems, my guess is that is the extreme minority.  If you want to have fun, put some miles on the bike between now and July.  Should be easy to do in SoCal.  After all, riding a bike is fun, so its not really training anyway. 

I think KittySlayer is right, so long as you put in some miles first, riding the bike is the easy part.  Get used to riding in big groups.  Its not hard to do, but you don’t want your first day of Ragbrai to be your first big group ride.   Bring a ten fan, eat some pie and pork, drink a beer or two, take your time and have fun. 


OhioCyclone, November 22, 2011 at 8:50 am

And don’t let people fool you into thinking Iowa is “flat.” maybe compared to some states, but after 60 miles the up and down pays it’s toll. It is still one of the best weeks I’ve ever had:)


MadCow, November 22, 2011 at 9:05 am

I live in Florida but dating a corn fed Iowa girl from Monroe.  She warned me about the Iowa hills.  I have never done a long bike ride, but I plan on putting in the miles to get prepared.  I’ve run marathons, so thinking I can tough this out as well.  I also mentioned it to my brother and he is planning to ride also.  I just wish I didn’t have to wait until May to find out if I won the lottery!


jwsknk, November 22, 2011 at 9:07 am

almost all who enter on time get in, even if somehow you don’t, there are always people posting on here selling in june/July.


ppenka, November 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Hey all thanks for the advice.  Well lets see how I start.  1.  Love camping but do it in my 5th wheel right now.  Full Timer here.  2.  I have had the opportunity to ride in some large groups but not 10,000 friends but willing to meet all I can.  3.  Berr and food are great.  If i can figure out how to keep my keg cold i would hual my Kegerator behind the Roubaix.  4.  Have 600 miles on the bike now and going to put on anothe grand before I ride.  Thanks for all the advice and Orange County here.  Gonna hit the flood control this weekend.  Thanks all hope to see everyone there.  I will be the one with the OU (Oklahoma Sooner) Jersey on.  Unless someone can point me in the direction of how I can get a custom one printed up. 


jwsknk, November 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm

there are some companies that print single and small runs, can’t think of their names now but sure others here have used them. we have been using Voler since we have someones who lives in San Luis Obispo that can work with them in person and save us the shipping cost. click on the “jersey” tag on the left to go to some of last years discussion.


Richie Rich, November 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm

ppenka… about locking your bike,

25,000 bikes and most everyone has plenty of $$ invested. I sure there are some dishonest people on the ride, but for the most part everyone will respect and leave your equipment alone! If you bring a lock, leave it in your gear and lock up at night.


Bartaped, November 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Cheap way to secure your bike at night is to bring a 4′ length of clothes line. Put a loop in each end, loop that trough the rear wheel or the frame and secure the 2 loops to one of your tent stakes. Gives the thief just enough line to bring him to a sudden stop when trying to run away with your bike in the night.


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