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

knees36, November 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm

My guess is that the few bikes that are stolen are by thieves that are not on the ride.  I’ve never had a bike stolen on RAG, but did have a frame pump stolen many years ago in the overnight town of Adel.  The next morning there was a guy brazenly selling pumps in the campgrounds.  I bought one…but mine wasn’t in the bunch he had… because  I didn’t want to be without a pump during the day’s ride…and  I wasn’t the only one buying pumps that morning by any stretch.  I’m guessing that someone had already bought my pump a bit earlier that morning.  I do lock my bike during the overnight, though, just so it’s around the next morning.  Cheers.


sunny7, November 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

24 year veteran here.  There are thefts on the ride-bikes, computers, pumps. Logic says it’s outsiders, but gone is gone.   No matter how much money you have in your bike, there will be dozens if not hundreds who have more in their bikes. The bike thieves often don’t know what they are stealing.  Bottom line is that if it will help you relax, lock your bike.  I’ve been locking mine together with a couple other bikes in the overnight campground for the last 10 years or so.  That way I don’t wonder if it will be there in the morning. Lock it and forget it is my plan.  As for pass-thru towns, the bigger risk is whether I will remember where I parked it.  I also don’t like to worry about my nice bike being knocked over-I minimize that risk by using a kickstand. Yeah-it’s geeky, but it works. 

As for training, you can probably do the ride with minimal training on a pink Huffy if you really want to.  But the more training miles you have and the more easily the bike rolls down the road-the easier the ride will be and you’ll have more fun because you won’t be as sore.  As someone who has done it with 7 miles (1993) and with 400 (2010),  it really is more fun with more training miles.  I’ve never managed to get in more than 400 miles, but dream of how great it would be to ride with 1000 training miles and really be ready at my fighting weight for the ride.  Like that will ever happen.


Tony, November 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I rode my first RAGBRAI on a MTB with slicks. No problems other than I couldn’t keep up with roadies. I had an enjoyable ride. That said, using the right equipment for the job makes it easier. I’ve only used road bikes since.

I’ve also been on both ends of the mileage issue. You will hear someone say I road with no miles in and I did fine. Well they are in the vast minority. You want to risk being miserable on your vacation? Get your b u t t miles in and then get some back to back long distance mileage in. You need to do back to back days of metric or full centuries before the ride. The average day is 75 miles. Now burn that into your brain at 7x days in a row, I suggest 1500 to 2500 miles before the ride. I know it sounds a lot. But with those kinda numbers. RAGBRAI becomes a party and not a medieval experiment in torture. You do want to party, eh? Last year I came with my lowest mileage and I had to abandon on the 3rd day. Not good. I switched my helmet for a hat and helped the support crew.

Don’t worry about theft. But for peace of mind put your bike in your tent or lock it. I would be more worried about it getting knocked over. Don’t bother bringing the lock during the day. Its dead weight. As said, your problem will be remembering where your bike was parked.

Once you decide you are doing this ride. You have to figure out how to get you, your bike, and gear here. Logistics can be a biggy. You must get this figured out very soon as flights and accommodations are filling rapidly. Some charters will assist you on this. Joining a club or team can help too. Take a look a Even if your planning to come by RV or a 5th wheel. You need to start thinking about the logistics. Some of the overnight towns have a population of 2,000. When you add 20,000 riders, vendors, media, public service, and spectators. It gets crowded very quickly.


Sandaltan ., November 25, 2011 at 11:43 am

“medieval experiment in torture.”   Yeah Tony that describes the feeling if you have not become “one” with your saddle.   Great line!!!

If you bike somewhere in the evening locking your bike in a good idea.   I have a 12 foot plastic coated lightweight cable that I put together with furules from the hardware store and a cheap combination lock that we use when we ride to dinner or park the bikes outside in the evening.



bill60, November 26, 2011 at 9:32 am

I take few chances when it comes to preparation. I had over 6,000 miles of riding when I arrived at RAGBRAI. I was ready, had no problems, partied hard, and did the optional Karras Loop 100-miler. I left at 6:30 each morning, did not stop and arrived at my campsite very early and avoided the masses. I enjoyed the overnight towns and the different personalities. Had a super time and am ready for the next one. Yes, I am extreme, but I saw too many that had to end their ride early because of lack of preparation. 


mbunge, November 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I’ve read where those of us over 50 should probably have around 600+ miles in before the ride. Younger riders can get by with less. This will be my third ride and I’ve always had around 1000 miles by the end of July. Try to get in a couple of longer rides – 60 or 70 miles – by mid July. Your butt will thank you. Bill60 is right: the more time you can spend in the saddle, the more enjoyable the ride will be.


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