Bike Walk Across Iowa

It is unfortunate there were many instances where we had to walk into some thru towns this year. And we also had to walk out of Rock Valley. But everyone was in the same boat and made the best of it. Kudos to all town organizers for doing the best you could. I had a great time. See ya next year. Go South!

16 Replies

ehlent, July 31, 2014 at 10:43 am

You always have to walk through many of the pass through towns. At least if you ride in the main crowds. If you leave really early or late you can avoid having to walk.


GORDON BROWN, August 1, 2014 at 3:08 pm

I LEFT EARLY ENOUGHT ON A COUPLE OF DAYS TO NOT WALK AT ALL AND IT WAS MY FIRST YEAR. That said, the days it was busy enough to be forced off the bike, it was okay, take it in stride, we’re not punching a clock, that is part of it, chill and experience it.
It can hardly be called a walk across Iowa, seriously?!! Think about the small sections where it was congested compared to the wide open expanses between towns.


Sandy, August 1, 2014 at 6:09 pm

It’s a bike tour of Iowa – if you ride through the towns, you miss out on a big part of the experience. It’s about the people – not just the ride.


Robert Vano, August 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm

It was my first time too. The walking part was my least favorite part of the whole trip, but only a little bit. It was as if some of the towns were set up in such a way to direct the bicycle traffic into the vendor areas. As you entered some of those towns, you could see that roads were blocked off but some riders were still skirting through on that closed road. Some snuck through yards too. While I am happy to deal with that again at Ragbrai, some of us just do not need or want to stop in every town at every vending area. There were so frequent of opportunities to refill water or get food that it was nice to slide on through where we could to avoid the crowds. That’s my suggestion: If you are a rider, look for those opportunities to sneak through. If you are a Ragbrai organizer, look to see if there is an “open lane” for those who don’t want to stop, so they can sneak through. Make that open lane known with a sign….Food and Water, THIS WAY >>>>….Don’t Want To Stop, GO THAT WAY <<<<<<.


“Bicycle Bill”, August 2, 2014 at 2:52 am

RoyBoy et al:  Allow me to share a story.  Back in the late 1970s, I took part in a ride called TOSRV (the Tour Of The Scioto River Valley) in Columbus, OH.  I was on a bus chartered through an Illinois group, as and happenstance would have it one of the participants was Phyllis Harmon — one of the persons behind the revitalization of the League of American Wheelmen as an effective voice of cycling back in the 1970s.

The testosterone was flowing, as we compared notes (myself included) with how we blew through the mileage each day.  I got knocked back on my heels when Phyllis asked two questions.  The first question was, “Do you enjoy riding your bicycle?” — to which the answer was unanimously affirmative.  She then asked, “Then why are you in such a hurry to finish?”  I don’t recall that anybody had an answer.

So, as was pointed out, this is the “Register’s Annual Great Bicycle *RIDE* Across Iowa”, not the “… Bicycle *RACE* across Iowa”.  Back in 1982, when the ride was created, it was done to allow people to explore and discover small-town Iowa.  It was not intended to be a ride to determine “how fast can I get across the state”.  So take the time to stop and smell the roses.  And if it means that you have to walk a few blocks through someplace like Bremer IA, then so be it.



“Bicycle Bill”, August 2, 2014 at 3:22 am

Dammit, do I wish this board had an edit feature!!!
I wish to acknowledge that I know RAGBRAI was started in 1973, not 1982.  Don’t know what sort of brain fart was responsible for that.



Paul, August 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Crosstraining RoyBoy. Glad you had fun. See you next year!


KC, August 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm

1973 or 1982 – doesn’t matter. I don’t think anybody could say what you said any more eloquently, Bicycle Bill. Well said, indeed!!!!


T. Gap Woo, August 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm

“Bicycle Bill”: So take the time to stop and smell the roses. And if it means that you have to walk a few blocks through someplace like Bremer IA, then so be it.

Eloquently put, BB! If I would have rushed through Clear Lake on the way to Mason City, I would have missed the Surf Ballroom. As it was, I spent close to two hours, choking down the lump in my throat many times, just looking at the autographed pictures and reading all of the informational shadowboxes. Later in the evening, after finishing in Mason City, Mrs. Woo and I found a park bench overlooking Clear Lake where we watched the sunset.

Clear Lake was truly a priceless experience, all because I stopped to smell the roses!


Brian Zupke, August 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm

One of the benefits of riding a recumbent trike is that there is no need to walk! :) :). I was able to ride every inch of RAGBRAI including in every town. Well, OK, I rode a few more inches as I missed the turn for my campsite in Okoboji so ended up riding most of the way through the town before realizing it was near where we first entered the town!


SFC JKL 2, August 3, 2014 at 10:42 pm

The biggest rookie mistake is always riding too fast. If you want a ride where you can just turn and burn try BRAG. Their goal is to get to the next overnight hotel before they stop serving breakfast. Even the most hardcore stragglers are off the road by 1:00 PM.


Tom Garcia, August 4, 2014 at 7:33 am

Years ago when hiking the Appalachian Trial in the Smokies I met an inn keeper who told me the trial is only one third about the miles; it’s also one third about the people you meet and one third about the small towns you pass through; things you never get to do when traveling by car. Although I spent a good deal of time in the pass through towns talking with people my only regret as a first time rider is that I didn’t spend even more time in the towns talking to locals. The people I met really made the ride an unforgettable experience.


RoyBoy, August 4, 2014 at 7:55 am

Walking in the thru towns was not a bad thing but walking a half mile (or more) to get into a town was what I did not like. Once in a town I could bypass the traffic jam to find a place to park my bike and check out the town.


jwsknk, August 4, 2014 at 8:14 am

My 2 cents on the bike walk. 1) the center street bike parks barrier – fail. it might start out tight but usually to saggy to use for parking. when there are vendors on both sides of the street makes it difficult to cross. part of the reason for the town walk, takes up a third of the street. 2) the people who walk 3-4 wide blocking the whole lane, and there is no one in front of them! 3) I don’t see a town when walking wheel overlapping wheel. to busy watching for the zigs and zags of people ahead walking around lines, parked bikes, people walking even slower, people trying to cross the street, and the salmon (bikes trying to go upstream against the flow)

Solutions? if you are putting vendors on the street use only 1 side, maybe the right in most cases keeping the left open for riders coming in and leaving. All vendors in a park or the town square. Take a couple sheets of plywood and a sheets and put up a map as riders come into town. show us where you are and where water is!

And yes. lots of times I will turn off one block before the walk and take a side street to the other end of it then park. Last year there must have been 20 KYBO’S all lined up on a shady side street that I don’t think anyone knew about. either that of they had been in and cleaned them. Or go straight then turn down a side street and find a place to park.


KenH, August 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

Walking your bike through RAGBRAI crowds is just part of the event. It is the crowd that creates the walking, without the crowd it would not be RAGBRAI. Your daily schedule may have no use for any given pass-through town but if you appreciate the benefits you find from the others you need to be willing to walk graciously through those you could do without. The crowds stopping in those “useless” towns makes the lines a wee bit shorter in the towns you do stop in. Yes, towns try to force you through their vendor areas. The heavy RAGBRAI traffic past the local vendor options is what entices towns to participate in the event. Without the towns RAGBRAI is just another nameless, faceless bicycle ride. Bypasses around those areas kills the event. New to me this year was walking past Farm Boys but that is fine too. You will get there, relax and enjoy. Didn’t see it this year but in years past I have seen those worried about the effect of walking on their average speed walking their bikes with the front wheels off the ground so their computers would not register the painfully slow speeds. This misses the point of RAGBRAI to a degree but if that what it takes to help you deal with the “pain” of walking you now have a plan.


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