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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

HughAinATX, April 1, 2022 at 9:59 am

Kent Clow gave me a thought. Is it OK to ride back on the route towards the end of the day and offer encouragement to those still riding in?


“Bicycle Bill”, April 1, 2022 at 2:35 pm

Of course it is, Hugh.  Maybe even ride along with them for a while as companionship, or perhaps even in front of them to give them a little bit of a break from fighting the wind as well as the mileage.  But be especially careful if you do that; people who aren’t experienced in riding in pacelines are one of the biggest causes of accidents on RAGBRAI, and even experienced riders who are feeling the effects of fatigue and aren’t at the top of their form could inadvertently touch your rear wheel, taking the both of you down, and potentially messing up the rest of your ride too.

Just make sure you’re offering them encouragement (and maybe some water, depending on how you feel about sharing a bidon), not teasing them for being so slow…. because if you do that and they beat you to within a half-inch of your life with your own frame pump, you will have only yourself to blame.



LawnchairMan, April 1, 2022 at 5:52 pm

With all the concern about Century Day, I am surprised that no one is worried about the hills of Days One or Seven. I think they will be more work than Day Four. The only concern I have with the Century is if there are strong headwinds. On my first Ragbrai Century, in 2007, the only relief from the wind was one leg of the loop. I don’t mean to minimize riding a hundred miles, but this looks so flat that it shouldn’t scare people. If we don’t have the headwinds this should be a very doable ride. The way I do the hundred is to train as much as I can at home, then when I get to Iowa, I ease back on my speed. I find a pace that I can sustain yet doesn’t keep me in the Sun too long. I also take breaks when I see something interesting or stop at a kid’s lemonade stand. I stay hydrated.
I am more concerned about hills. Day One’s climbs don’t look terribly steep, but the hills just keep on coming. The climb per mile is 47 feet. I will be relieved to get to Battle Creek. From there it will be smooth sailing. So far this year my training rides have only been up to 35 fpm. So, I am planning more practice hills.
Day Seven has more hills and one hill which may be about 8%. I think Day Seven has 45 fpm, so that is still significant.
All in all, I am eager to, once again, test my metal on the pedals. This will be my first time as a septuagenarian.

Side note to Bicycle Bill,
If you remember about two and a half years ago we talked about failing Velcro for my recumbent water system. I finally got around to using magnets on my bike and wire around my Camelbak tube. I just grab the tube from the edge of my seat to take a sip and the magnets grab it when I put it back. It works great! Now I don’t have to worry about Velcro getting old or if the humidity relaxes it. Thanks for inspiring me to do this.

This reply was modified 2 years ago by LawnchairMan.


AmyN, April 1, 2022 at 6:13 pm

This is my first Ragbrai does anyone know if we can start early than 6am on the Century day. I want to stop and see things and enjoy the ride.


iatrikerider, April 1, 2022 at 7:37 pm

You can start as early as you want but you must have a headlight and tail light before dawn. It will be amazing how many bikes will start in the dark on the 100 mile day!


Ben There, April 1, 2022 at 8:53 pm

You can start as early as you like. Consider this will be a dark night/morning, close to a New Moon.
It is not uncommon to see riders are heading out of campground by 4:30am


Joe Chavis, April 2, 2022 at 5:56 am

Hi kids. As it seems to be protocol here… I have ridden in some form or other, on some bike, every RAGBRAI since 1996, this June will be my 72nd trip around the sun. That’s my intro. The 105mile day seems to be quite the topic. IF you ride at least 30miles in your home town on a good day. Then ride 30 miles on the long day… stop… take a break, rest, then repeat. Psych your self up and think of the next 30 miles. You will always have company, whilst you ride. You can do it. However if you find that you can not. There is always the SAG option, and I think there was some mention of extra SAG support just for this reason. Most likely, (and you may wanna check with the official officials, an acceptable reason to sag may simply be that ‘I can not continue’.?
I will be riding the tandem again this year with crap music and not enough bass according to one skinny fellow last RAGBRAI who had nothing nice to say. Did notice he was riding a sleek, light bike with no music, however. I will be riding with 4-5 other riders from NC. We have a 7passenger van this year, IF you’d like to ride 50 miles on the long day, and drive our van the other 50…. hit me up. I’m sure we’d be able to trust you to get our truck to the next overnite. My longest day on a real bike (to date) 230ish miles. Longest on fixed gear (to date) 178.6 miles. However, I was much younger then in my mid sixties. Funnel all the energy. angst, and sometimes just plain meanness into pedalin’. That is all.


AmyN, April 2, 2022 at 12:14 pm

iatrikerider and Ben Three, thank you for the information.


Jboz, April 3, 2022 at 7:00 am

I checked hotels in Algona for Tuesday night. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thought of this. Everything is sold out with only one left (which I just grabbed). This will allow me to shave approximately 26 miles off the long day, plus the bonus of non-crowded restaurants on Tues night, a real bed, A/C, WiFi, and a private hot shower to start Wednesday off, all for the low price of $65. As far as “that’s cheating!”, I’ve done the full crossing many times and have nothing to prove…my main objective is to enjoy RAGBRAI.


Joseph Schlau, April 3, 2022 at 11:48 am

As far as “that’s cheating!”, I’ve done the full crossing many times and have nothing to prove…my main objective is to enjoy RAGBRAI.

The only folks that will call it cheating are those stuck with the Ragbrai or charter services. The self supported riders and teams with support vehicles figured this out the same as you.

In the thread Century Day, the question was asked if the 100 mile day would impact towns due to sagging. Emmetsburg is going to lose. Algona is going to win twice. Once as a pass through town and second as the informal overnight town. Ragbrai had to see that riding in reverse to Emmetsburg then reversing 20 miles out was not the best idea. Algoma should have been the overnight town. It was in 2017. Ragbrai could have still had their Karras loop and everything would be much calmer.

Ragbrai is about freedom of choice to ride the route of your choosing on whatever bike you want.

See you in Algona.


Jimbodog, April 4, 2022 at 8:09 am

I don’t know if any town will lose, win or win twice. I like the fact the new director of operations and the crew has tried something a little different. Remember this century was advertised as a tribute and not necessarily a reoccurring 100-mile day. However, I am familiar with the area. In the past years Emmetsburg was an overnight, I recall coming in from the south after passing thru Ayrshire and leaving Emmetsburg the next morning north. Other years from the north after passing through Graettinger and heading out on the same road due north. Emmetsburg has 9 miles of brand new, wide lanes and shoulders heading north just 1 mile east of town. I thought they may use that. The pavement hugging the east side of the lake is in terrible condition for bicycles. I think Palo Alto County has that road on its list for repair. I am delighted in any decisions they had to make for this route due road construction, towns not able to host or pass through due to centennials, major construction in a pass through or who knows?

One thing I do know. If people don’t like the way Ragbrai is operated they could surely start a different ride, stay home or just live with it. In short there may have been a very good reason for the Emmetsburg double back. Newer riders have time to prepare. Enjoy the ride!


Uncle Kraig, April 4, 2022 at 3:30 pm

Jboz – With regards to your Algona plan…..wont you still have to ride the 26 miles to get to Algona to your hotel? You just have to do it on Tuesday afternoon instead of Wednesday morning?


Joseph Schlau, April 4, 2022 at 4:14 pm

The common intersection on day 3 and day 4 is D55 / 51 just north of West Bend. If you go from Pocahontas to Algona skipping the left turn onto D55 toward Emmetsburg, it’s a 51 mile day. The route to Algona is part of the day 4 Ragbrai route, so it will be in better shape than off route options. Mileage from Algona to Mason City is about 71 also following the official RAGBRAI route.


Jboz, April 4, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Uncle Kraig – as Joseph points out, on Tuesday I will simply skip the backwards turn towards Emmetsburg and ride to Algona instead. Tuesday mileage will be about the same (51 ‘ish). Then I will wake up Wednesday AM in Algona and join the herd, only riding 71 miles instead of 105.


HelenP, April 4, 2022 at 6:10 pm

The turnoff to Emmetsburg is 20ish miles long:
Iowa 15 meets County Highway B55, go West on that, then North on Iowa 4.

So, if you just sat at that intersection (9 miles north of West Bend) until dawn ;-) you’d skip about 20 miles both days.


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