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Century Days

I see the century day is 105 miles this year. The article said the last year they had a century day was 1984 but it was 1985 which also went to Mason City. The first year they called it a century day was 1978 but there were 100 mile days before and after 1978-1985.

88 Replies

David Rutherford, March 29, 2022 at 6:06 pm

I think you proved my point, if 80% of your customers have passed on the 100 mile loop, why would you make it mandatory? The customer has spoken, also, there was a 100 mile loop for those who wanted to do one. So why take the risk of upsetting 80% of your customers when you don’t need to? I hope they make tons of money and continue to make the ride better every year. But this decision seems to be a bad business risk for no real reason.

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Mark47n, March 29, 2022 at 6:33 pm

David R., I don’t agree that this makes any point other than its a possibility of a century day for future years.

To say that because only 20% of riders chose to do the century doesn’t equate to only 20% can or are willing. It only means that 20% of riders really wanted it rather than getting to the beer (beer near, as HHH would say)

I doubt that this will cause any significant impact on ridership in future years, it just means that riders will have to ask themselves if they’re up for a century and, if not, how they can get there.

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David Rutherford, March 29, 2022 at 7:13 pm

Mark, there is a century day every year. If this were my business I would not take an unnecessary risk for future business. My team has many older and first time riders and a few are concerned and are looking to see if they can pull out. So, yes I do see this effecting future business, and my near term business as well. Not sure it’s about the beer for all, many riders don’t drink, especially the young riders.

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Heather, March 29, 2022 at 7:21 pm

It is honor one of the founding members. If you don’t want to do the century, then you don’t have to do Ragbrai this year. It is a choice you do have. Ragbrai gave 6 months notice that they were going to do this. That is plenty of time to train for it.

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“Bicycle Bill”, March 29, 2022 at 7:26 pm

First of all, cannontandem, was it necessary to start an entire second thread re: the century day since there already was one? I don’t think so.

Second, re-read my earlier post – https://ragbrai.com/forums/topic/century-day-2/page/4/#post-1368652 – on the matter in the other thread. Those facts still hold true. Take them to heart.

Lastly, judging by your handle (cannontandem), you are riding a bicycle built for two, which means you are only working half as hard as someone on a single bike. Therefore, you and your partner will have to do the day’s ride twice. (grin)

-“BB”-

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Eric Strobel, March 29, 2022 at 7:54 pm

I’m 61 and I passed on the century loop last year (my first Ragbrai). I did so just because it was optional…I could of done it and would of just been fine. I love the fact we’ll get to do a century this year. Just another memory and life experience I’ll talk about for a long time. I just feel if you train for this you’ll be fine. I trained 1800 miles last year and felt great after each day. The hills really weren’t that bad. So prepare yourself by getting some good training in (saddle time) and enjoy the ride. You’ll be talking about it for many years to come. See you on the road!

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Mark47n, March 29, 2022 at 8:32 pm

Dave, it seems like you’re deliberately missing my point: Simply because 20% do the loop doesn’t mean that only 20% are capable or would mind a century.

That your business is so dependent on the business of RAGBRAI then perhaps you should diversify your holding, then, yeah? I doubt this will greatly diminish interest in this event but may temper it. If people ride it because they view it a a stroll through the park then perhaps they’ll take it a bit more seriously and that can never be anything but a good thing.

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David Rutherford, March 29, 2022 at 9:36 pm

Mark, no one minds the century, but given the choice, 80% said no thank you. Kind of narcissistic to think everyone should do something because you think they could don’t you think? They made their choice by not doing it. Most cyclists I have met over the last 50 years have been a little more open minded and letting everyone do their own thing and not have anything be mandatory to be considered part of an event like this. Kinda sad I think.

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Mark47n, March 29, 2022 at 10:53 pm

You’re putting words in my proverbial mouth. 

Well, if no one minds a century then this whole argument is superfluous, isn’t it? Alas, you’ve brought up the 80% many times and used it to justify how unreasonable a mandatory century is.

It’s not narcissistic to say that you take the event as it is. I don’t care who does what. If you want to blast it out in 3-4 days, cool. Sounds terrible, but I’ve seen people pull 200+ mile days. If you want to do it on a Big-Wheel, awesome. I don’t care. At the end of the day it still comes down to the participant. They’ll either accept it and try and maybe succeed or they won’t. Seems simple doesn’t it?

Do you really believe that a century day will be a deterrent? I mean, it could, right? Doubtful. There are events all over the the country that incorporate centuries that aren’t for triathletes. There are a few in my neck of the woods that attract as many as 10,000 participants and you better believe that you’ll be doing centuries there.

I don’t really care what cyclists you’ve met over your lifetime have to say. It’s completely immaterial. I know many bikers (the motorcycle variety) that only ride within maybe a few hundred miles of their front door. I tend to head out for 500-600 miles rides for the day and I’ve travelled around the country on them. I’ve attempted to record an Iron Butt, which is 1000 miles in 24 hours and I’ve failed twice with no success, yet. Once because of weather and once because of equipment failure. That fear of failure didn’t deter me, though. It just means I need to up my game and try again. Other things I’ve failed at are big-walling, mountaineering, WW kayaking and more. I’ve experienced real success in big-walling, mountaineering and WW kayaking. Failure and success are not permanent states, in fact many successes have some failure incorporated somewhere along the way.

But I digress. You don’t have to like what I have to say, or my philosophies, or anything about me up to an including myself. That doesn’t change the fact that there is a century on day 4. Some will experience success and some with experience failure. The reasons for each will be myriad. Some who’ve nailed centuries before may collapse from the heat and some who are terrified may find someone to help them out and they’ll achieve success. After all, both are worthwhile unless you simply don’t try.

Finally, I’m not sad, I’m bipolar complicated by depression.

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David Rutherford, March 29, 2022 at 10:54 pm

Hi Heather,
Could you show me where you found the route 6 months ago? Or where you heard there was going to be a mandatory 100+ mile day? From what I know the actual route and mileage was just released… months after registration opened.

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garywilk, March 30, 2022 at 5:47 am

Please stop complaining and be happy with the route. It is a ride across Iowa and some days will harder than others. It seems like more people want an easy button. Like someone mentioned, next they will want a shorter or flatter route for the people that are a bit larger. Me not being on the thinner side but will ride the hills the first and last day and happy for doing it as it is part of the ride. Then 90 miles will be too long, then 80, then they will extend it to 8 days to keep the miles down. No one is making you ride 100 miles. If you do not like it, then pick a different ride. BRAG may be more for you.

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Joseph Schlau, March 30, 2022 at 7:45 am

Hi Heather,
Could you show me where you found the route 6 months ago? Or where you heard there was going to be a mandatory 100+ mile day? From what I know the actual route and mileage was just released… months after registration opened.

The thread Century Day was started around February 11 when first word of a mandatory century emerged. Registration opened in November. The route announcement party was at the end on January. I watched the route announcement party in its entirety. Even though Matt had hours of talk time, there was no mention of a mandatory century. He even posted a day later in the blog highlighting the relative short distances and elevations of the route. In other words, a typical north route. The route that suits first time riders, families with kids. Now to be clear, the distance between Emmitsburg and Mason City was still over 80 miles. It would seem that this was going to be a typical north route.

Then around Feb 11 word starts appearing on this blog about a mandatory non-optional century. My initial reaction was it must be a reporting error, but no. The RAGBRAI blog finally confirmed it. At first they tried to wrap the memory of the founders around this, then tried to liken it to running a marathon. Something to add to your bucket list.

They even published a training guide where you need to have 2000 miles of ride time.

Needless to say, RAGBRAI got some pushback on this one. In the used car business, it would be called bait and switch. RAGBRAI eagerly took registrations from people who reasonably would believe it was just a typical north route who then, 2 weeks later found out otherwise.

Now for myself, I registered early with my team. Whatever RAGBRAI put out there, we would deal with. With our truck we could and have motored to any starting or pickup point that best suited our plan for the day. Many times we housed miles from the overnight town. We already have a plan for day 4 and it doesn’t add up to the number 105.

As time has gone on RAGBRAI has tried to ease what they call “the anxiety” by increasing shut down times and beefing up their sag services by rolling in equipment from other events.

I did point out on the other thread that RAGBRAI had an entire evening in January to re-introduce the 100 mile day, explain the reason, and explain what measures will be taken to help those unsure about riding 100. In other words, level with your customers and supporters, let them know up front before taking their registration money. Riders could decide to stay or go. No one, except the pre-registered could say, I didn’t know.

Heather did exaggerate a bit in her 6 month window, (actually less that 2). But to be fair, those like me who signed before the route announcement knew the chances. Those that signed up after mid February should have known it was going to be 100+. No surprises there.

In the end, RAGBRAI should have incorporated a few principles of honesty and candor from the founding reporters they now seek to honor. These reporters were RAGBRAI riders part time, and ethical reporters full time.

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cannontandem, March 30, 2022 at 8:34 am

I’m sorry I didn’t see the other blog about the “Century Day” when I started this one.

I know that there are people that stray from the route for several reasons but some times you find unexpected problems in doing so. The most common is bridge work that blocks your way. RAGBRAI contacts state, county and city governments to see what is expected to be going on on those dates.

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Heather, March 30, 2022 at 8:43 am

David, the route was announced the last week in January. They said in January that there was going to be a 100 mile day. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/life/living-well/ragbrai/2022/01/28/ragbrai-2022-route-announcement
It was published on 1/28/2022.
The actual ride is 6 months later.

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HughAinATX, March 30, 2022 at 9:34 am

I’m 5’8″ and have a goal weight of 225 by RAGBRAI.
The point is I fall into the “larger rider” by most definitions.
As my gravel bike is a single speed, that will be my steed of choice for RAGBRAI.
100 mile day? Cool. We get to visit more Iowa towns.
Hills? Yes, please.
Wind? Well I guess people know whose wheel to sit on because I cut a decent draft, or so I’ve been told.

Holy smokes, people. It’s a bike ride. Go enjoy riding with a bunch of cyclists. Enjoy the atmosphere. We all voluntarily signed up. I’m looking for maximum fun on my first RAGBRAI.
As Freddie Mercury once said,”Get on your bike and ride!”

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