RAGBRAI LI July 20 -27, 2024

Century Day

Well, this could be interesting. We have a century day scheduled for Wednesday between Emmetsburg and Mason City. I have never seen stats for number of riders who chose the add the century loop in past years, but I know the pack thins out considerably on those ‘extra’ miles. How will this pan out I wonder? Lots of sagging the last 30 miles of that day I imagine, and how will that affect the pass thru towns towards the end of that day?

73 Replies

Ashley Polkinghorn, February 12, 2022 at 11:05 am

I’m honestly pretty disappointed with this decision. I love that there’s been an optional loop, but one of my favorite things about Ragbrai is how diverse it is in terms of athleticism and attitude, and I know a lot of riders aren’t going to be able to do this, or willing to attempt it in the Iowa heat.


Froggerz, February 12, 2022 at 4:41 pm

Slow and steady, lots of water/Gatorade, bars and gu’s, and a whole bunch of fun riders along side will make it a doable and complete day…Anything is possible 😁😁👏👏🇨🇦🇨🇦 Ride On!🇨🇦🇨🇦😁

This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by Froggerz.

This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by Froggerz.


JimCoonRapidsMN, February 13, 2022 at 4:10 am

In 2018 I convinced my 34 yr old son to come along by offering RAGBRAI registration and all expenses as my bday gift to him. He celebrated by riding the Karras loop. I and my other riding buddy declined to join him. Perhaps needless to say he was very happy to get the patch and when 2019 came around I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I didn’t get the patch. So I put 122.5 miles on my bike that day. Made it to the end town around 4 pm, really not feeling much different than any other ride over 50 miles. I’m 67, not particularly athletic but I enjoy keeping in shape bike riding. I love the friendly Iowa communities and camaraderie along the way. My message is simple – you can do it. 100 is just like birthdays: “It’s only a number.”


Sarah Prudhomme, February 13, 2022 at 11:59 am

I’ll be riding it with my 81 year old dad. He’s super fired up about it and refused to ride electric. If things go south, we’ll sag, but he’s excited for the challenge!


JimCoonRapidsMN, February 13, 2022 at 9:12 pm

Oh and by the way, I’ll be riding my trusty 1973 Motobecane Gran Jubilé – unless same son as above is able to convince me to finally upgrade …


Joseph Schlau, February 14, 2022 at 7:38 am

Oh my, this is becoming a game of buzz phrase bingo. Super fired up, you can do it, 100 is only a number. Unfortunately, life is not like an episode of Harry Potter, where reciting a few well chosen magical words brings about real world success.

And while Jim from MN made a very impressive ride in 2019 of 122 miles on his 1973 Motobecane Gran Jubilé, he also pointed out this was an option he selected. Just as his option in 2018 to not ride the extra Karras Loop. This year, RAGBRAI made the decision for you to “Just Do It”, (another corporate buzzphrase).

They not only made the decision for you, but inserted their new idea to “Honor the Founders” into a northern tier ride. The north tier is generally recognized as the shortest, flattest, and easiest route. A route most suited for beginners, families with children, and others who don’t have the capability for other longer and hilly routes.

In the January 29 blog post by Andrea Parrott, and the route announcement party all anyone heard or read was;

“I can’t wait for riders to experience these eight overnight towns hospitality,” said Matt Phippen, new RAGBRAI director of operations. “This is truly a route through small-town Iowa communities that have some much to offer riders. 2022 is going to be a fun route.”
The northern route is roughly 430 miles and nearly 11,900 feet of climb. That makes it the eleventh shortest ride and eighteenth flattest. The year’s ride is dedicated to RAGBRAI co-founder, John Karras, who died in November of last year. Mandatory century, no mention.

On February 8th Andrea Parrott posted in part

This year to honor our founding fathers, John Karras and Donald Kaul, we are going back to the roots . . . So if you are riding RAGBRAI in 2022, you will get to do a century ride! Sound impossible? It is not! On today’s episode, enjoy a Parrott Talk. It still sounds like an option like they always have.

Then on February 11th, 2 weeks after the route announcement party, the blog then confirmed what had been talked about for a few days.

This is the 11th shortest RAGBRAI and 18th shortest (which is it?) in the 49 year history of this ride. However, there is something new this year. In year’s past there was always an optional 100 mile (century) loop available to riders who wanted to accomplish this feat. For cyclists, a century ride is kind of like what a marathon is to runners – it’s a milestone goal many cyclists have on our ‘Bike-it list’. Well, this year the organizers decided to make one of the days a full century distance for everyone, not just optional. I know this has caused some reason for anxiety among some of you who haven’t ever ridden a century. But I’m here to tell you that you can do it.

Yes, with the recitation of the magical buzz words “you can do it” and “Bike-it list” the eleventh shortest and eighteenth flattest ride just became a mandatory century. An now Andrea has her training program all ready to go.

Ashley wrote
I’m honestly pretty disappointed with this decision. I love that there’s been an optional loop, but one of my favorite things about Ragbrai is how diverse it is in terms of athleticism and attitude, and I know a lot of riders aren’t going to be able to do this, or willing to attempt it in the Iowa heat.

I share her sentiments. Particularly for families with kids who registered for an easier north route and now have to figure out a work around in the middle of the week or suck up the cancellation fees. Also for people who may not have the abilities of Jim from MN and have no options.

Those who registered before February 11th unaware of the century mandate are out the $25 cancellation fee if they “just can’t do it”. Those who start on Andrea’s 5 month training program and find themselves way short of the 80 mile single ride goal by July will lose all of their money if they cancel.

I am also disappointed that both Matt and Andrea could not be upfront and honest at the start and have told people at the route announcement party and their first description of the ride on January 29th of their intentions to force a mandatory century. How hard would that have been?

At the very least, you might consider waiving the cancellation fees to those who registered prior to February 11th , who don’t think of 100 as just a number, and have no options.


JimCoonRapidsMN, February 14, 2022 at 1:43 pm

Joe, you make valid points. You’re absolutely right – it was an option that I took, and in full disclosure, an option that I did not take in 2021. I agree that they could and perhaps should have been more upfront with this expectation. As for a “work around”, sag support is available and perhaps they are going to work extra sag support into that day.

As has been pointed out earlier, there is a way that is about 20 miles shorter to get from Emmetsburg to Mason City. Perhaps a way out of this would be to make a “shorter route” option available that day, with the typical support available on that route just like on a gravel or century loop. Only problem I see with that idea is I think it would have to be on US 18 and I’m not sure the Iowa DOT would be willing to bottle up that pretty well traveled highway for the day. Its even possible that the 100 mile decision was driven by a desire to stay off of 18.

It should also be pointed out that days of over 80 miles have happened before – last year is one example – so 100 is only another hour to hour and a half in the saddle. Heat on that day will make a big difference of course.


Joseph Schlau, February 14, 2022 at 3:48 pm

We will need to wait and see what Wednesday’s route looks like when they publish it in a few weeks. Then it will become apparent where the bypass roads potentially will be. RAGBRAI of course does not encourage off route travel, but our team frequently has to take these routes to reach an overnight host. People are used to seeing nice roads with level shoulders and filled potholes. When you leave the RAGBRAI route it becomes apparent which roads received the most maintenance attention and those that have been neglected.

Yes, RAGBRAI has had many long routes over the years. I have been riding since 2004 but I cannot recall anything with a base daily mileage of 100. The 2019 route for me from Indianola to Centerville was 94 miles due to the location of our host some 7 miles north of Indianola. I’ve done the Karras loops and other 100+ rides in the past, so I’m not looking at another entry to a Bike-It list.

I do have to say though, that Andria’s comparison of a bike century to a marathon is pretty lame. Sorry, no comparison.


Matt, February 14, 2022 at 5:25 pm

I understand being disappointed when a route isn’t to individual expectation, but. . . I’ve heard “forced 100” & “mandatory 100” etc. Every town-to-town mile of every day for the past 48 rides has been “mandatory” mileage. The route is the route. There have been many days with “forced” 80+ miles, some with 90+ miles (and as we know, some with 100) in the past. People trained or didn’t in those years. People decided to register, abstain, ride, or back out just prior. Same choice every year. This year there is, yes once again, a 100 mile day (notice that 5 other days are estimated fewer than 60 miles). Anyone choosing to ride 400+ miles in a week should be training for saddle time regardless. Example: What is a 100 mile day compared to a “mandatory” 87 mile day of yesteryear? That’s right, 13 miles! It’s one year with a 100 mile day tribute/throwback/revisit/whatever. It’s exciting. Please just decide if this year is for you and refrain from targeting the organizers for not fitting an individual expectation. What if they have the audacity to pick a route next year with a hill (Potter’s Hill !) or hills, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 40 years? The route is the route. Train for what’s in front of you. If it’s those extra 13 miles or some hills then so be it. Some years are hard. Some years are easy. If it was the same flat 60 mile/day ride every year, that would be boring. Embrace the challenge (I added that for the buzzword person ;). Keep your eyes open for updates on increased and improved sag services and possibly later end times on century day. They seem to be very focused on addressing concerns. It’ll be a great day and a great year.


Matt, February 14, 2022 at 5:48 pm

There is nothing new or surprising about the route announcement process. They announce the towns, they announce the mileage, and people choose to ride or not. As usual, Estimated mileage/elevation filters out in Jan/Feb and Actual mileage/elevation isn’t released until March. Anyone that signs up early knows (or should know) that they may or may not like the route, miles, hills, etc. And as we know from last year, the route and towns can change significantly due to extenuating circumstances. Signing up early is NOT mandatory. Full route, mileage, and elevation is NOT announced until March. Route changes CAN/DO happen. Registrations ARE transferable. They even assist in making transfers easier on this site. There are lots of venues to sell registrations if needed, including this forum. Demands to have money refunded because the route isn’t to individual satisfaction or isn’t defined earlier than normal or didn’t align with an individual’s training plan is simply impolite.


Derek Eilderts, February 14, 2022 at 8:03 pm

Matt – Everything you said was spot on. I imagine there will be many riders proud of themselves upon reaching Mason City to cap off their first century.
Joseph – You mentioned you’ve been off route before so here’s a thought. Pocahontas to Algona is 46 miles. Algona to Mason City is 54 miles. You could complete each of those days on a single battery. Sure you would miss Emmetsburg but you could have Algona all to yourself.


mcdermott1, February 14, 2022 at 10:06 pm

Matt , well spoken . Your comments are spot on. This will be my 6th Ragbrai this year and I’m looking forward to the “ mandatory “ 100 miler . I think it’s a great tribute to Mr Karras and I believe it was a privilege seeing him last year for the last time when I received the Karras patch. As you stated , no one is forcing anyone to do a Ragbrai . If you don’t like this years route , Simply skip this year , stay home and sign up for a year when you like the route.


Guodan, February 15, 2022 at 12:33 am

I like Matt’s outlook on this. Folks who simply won’t do 100 miles have plenty of time to figure out a workaround. It’s only one day. For many it will be that little extra challenge that boosts their interest and determination. One day century events rarely leave the course open for 12 hours or more. What a great opportunity for a first 100 miler with the support of a zillion fellow riders and a full summer day to get it done. Mason City will be high fives and the best beer ever for a lot of folks. Given the logistics around the distance and the size of the event I applaud the courage of the organizers in adding this special challenge. I can’t wait.


garywilk, February 15, 2022 at 7:33 am

Great outlook Matt. It is a ride across Iowa and it will have some tough days. It would be nice to add a loop around a block or two at the end and hand out a patch in Memory of Karras. Suggestions are nice but if people are crying now, please just cancel. The best part about RAGBRAI are all of the happy friendly people. I will love the route this year no matter how they route us. Just plan accordingly. Also, please stay on the route. Thanks you to Iowa for having us and they reroute traffic for us so please do not make it harder on Police, locals, and others.


Mark47n, February 18, 2022 at 11:05 am

Hm. 100 miles in Iowa with a nominal elevation gain of less that 2000′. Hot…okay. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, as long as you put in the saddle time before the event. Hell, there are a few days to get you ready for it before it even hits!

People shouldn’t let the idea of 100 miles be a deterrent but it’s a big psychological barrier for many. You should already be training for this event, all you should need to do is add a few miles to your training rides and you’ll be fine…or not, if you don’t train, but then you’ll already be struggling.

If I come off as cavalier about this, well, I am. I think it’s more of a psychological hurdle, at this point. Seeing that participants will have, in the previous two days, ridden 190 miles or so. You just have to pace yourself, fuel your body and hydrate, and just remember what Papa Smurf used to always say: “Almost there!”.


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