I’m starting this thread for the new RAGBRAI riders with some tips not in the Ride Right handbook we can offer them (and all of us) on staying safe this year. It seemed like there were more than the usual amount of crashes last year and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of bandages.
Here’s my first tips:
Watchout out for the center of the road cracks!! In many of the roads there’s a seam between the left and right side. Many times it’s large enough to catch your tire and flip you like a pancake. I’ve seen a lot of people messed up by this. Don’t cross these gradually, or at all if you’re not sure. They’ll fill these many times with tar, but in the hot sun the tar gets soft, so you get a false sense of security. Then you’re tire sinks in and you go flying. So watch out for those seams!
The other one (but less deadly in my opinion) are the rumblers. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s those rumble strips you run over on your car on rural roads as you approach stops. People will point at the ground to point these out or yell “rumblers” so you’ll know they’re coming. Just move to the side if there’s not another bike next to you, or slow down and go over them but with a firm grip on the handlebars. Most people will shift to the other side of the road to avoid them. Just watch for other bikers before doing so.
A pace line is a group of riders riding in line to help break the wind and generally move along faster. It’s okay, but generally a bad idea if a) you’ve never ridden in a pace line before, or b) you haven’t ridden with the people in this pace line before. Lots of wrecks happen in pace lines due to the closeness of the bikes (less time to stop or avoid), the fact that you generally ride faster or due to lack of communication. One major rule of pace line safety is DON’T CROSS TIRES! Meaning, don’t let your front tire get past the rear tire of the person in front of you. I saw this last year with a line I was in and backed off, and sure as h e c k a mile later the line piled up when wheels touched. RAGBRAI is not a good place to learn to ride a pace line.
Let’s be careful out there!! I’d love to see a lot more bored ambulance drivers this year.