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First Timer from Canada!

I’m a first timer participating in this ride.
Not sure what to expect. Please share any tips you have. Thank you πŸ™‚

25 Replies

Julie Peden, June 3, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Hey gringonick,
This is awesome and great info. I have taken some notes down, especially the prep H! KenH, not sure about VIRGIN being written down my calf, some people might laugh. Is there somewhere to charge cell phones at camp? Was going to purchase a solar charger. Thanks sooooo much for all of the helpful information!!!!

#1151593

T. Gap Woo, June 3, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Let it Snow: By the way I did spend at least 2 hours in the Surf Ballroom with my 14 year old in 2014

Let it Snow,

After the day’s ride ended in Mason City (River City), Mrs. Woo, my daughter and I went back to Clear Lake and the Surf Ballroom. While Mrs. Woo was vaguely familiar with Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens (she was a toddler on The Day the Music Died), my daughter had no clue. I had to explain the whole story behind American Pie and the significance of February 3, 1959. Gee did I ever feel older than dirt!

JuliePeden, here’s another tip for you. Go to the Automobile Club (CAA?) and get an Iowa tour book. Contact the Iowa Tourism Office (200 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines IA 50309) and order The Iowa Travel Guide and road map. Read about places along the route and figure out what you might want to spend time seeing and doing in a pass-through town, overnight town or some place just off the route. If I can squeeze in the time, I’m planning to visit the John Deere factory in Ottumwa, because my father-in-law collects and restores old John Deere tractors.

Remember, RAGBRAI is not a race, but a ride. Stop and smell the roses (corn, pork chops, burgers, etc.) along the way and meet the friendly folks of Iowa.

See you along the I-O-Way next month.

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Julie Peden, June 3, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Well there won’t be any worry about me zoooming past everyone and being the 1st person at the camp. I am very much looking forward to stopping and taking in all that every town has to offer. But I will be that person who does follow the rules of biking by saying “on your left” as I had a big crash last June in the Ride to Conquer Cancer and I’m just finishing up with therapy now. I hope everyone does their part with keeping other safe :).
I’ll connect with CAA here to get some information together but I’ll probably rely on what recommendations I’ll get the night before. Can’t wait. A little afriaid of the hills, but whatever! Won’t be my first and certainly not my last.

#1151603

Bentongoing, June 3, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Wow! I’m even learning stuff. Amazing people – but then, why am I surprised? If ever you need your faith in human nature restored, ride RAGBRAI. Everyone you meet is at their best. Kind, helpful, honest. Even makes a skeptic like me hopeful for the future of the human race. (But it’s a ride, not a race)

I use one of those battery charging packs. Phone service is sketchy at best, in fact, I don’t turn my phone on unless I need it for something. The infrastructure is not designed for the additional load of 15-20,000 cyclists (and support staff). So the battery can last the whole week! All of the charters have some charging stations for cell phones, computers, air mattress pumps etc. so I’d forget the solar thing – never could find one that worked well enough anyway.
Don’t forget to pack your stuff in watertight ziplocks or something. Count on at least 1 day of rain and luggage is exposed, so I use large freezer-size zip lock bags and put one day’s clothes in each. At the end of the day, I put the dirty clothes back in, for two reasons – keeps the odour contained (well, until the end of the week, but I use a haz-mat suit to unpack) and even dirty clothes get REALLY HEAVY if they get wet! The luggage gets heavier as the week goes on anyway, just from sweat, don’t need soaked dirty clothes to add pounds (or kgs) to the load.

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Julie Peden, June 3, 2016 at 2:07 pm

I know have 5 post-it-notes of things I need to pack or purchase!! Ziplock bags…right! check! Burn cloths when I return home… check!

#1151607

Nico ZZZ, June 3, 2016 at 2:24 pm

T.J. and the pre-ride inspection team will also be adding things to see and do along the route in the next couple of weeks. I wiki for info on the towns on the route, and will print up a 3×5 card for each day’s ride and laminate (or just use poor man’s laminate – clear packing tape). In 2014 there were the Iowa Craft Beer guys handing out biz cards with the locations of the Craft Beer trucks for each day – now THAT was a valuable card! We always supported the Iowa Beer Vendor.
And YES to the ziplock bags – for everything.
And any cycling supplies that you forgot to bring – well, it is all there on Saturday at the Expo, and mechanics tents are in every pass through.
Ragbrai is seven days surrounded by friendly people – that is not possible down here in Miami!
Ride On!

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KenH, June 3, 2016 at 3:15 pm

I’ve tried to post this three times now without success. I think the forum system doesn’t like its own link posting feature today or something. My apologies in advance if all four end up appearing some day/hour. If you search the internet for RAGBRAI packing lists you will find quite a few. Iceman here on this forum has an excellent one which you can find in this thread and it appears to geared towards those who travel to Iowa by air:

https://ragbrai.com/forums/topic/a-beginners-guide-to-ragbrai/#post-1116521

The Register has one to, the 2014 version can be found here:

https://ragbrai.com/2014/07/14/what-to-pack-for-ragbrai/

You’ll have to manually copy and paste those links to your browser unless the forum software decides to be kind to me this time.

If you are using PBV for the whole week rather than just for transportation at the beginning and the end then no fear about the cell phone, they have a charging station. Many other charters do too. I’m going with a small charter this year (unless something changes) so unlike previous years when I just fired up the generator in the motorhome I will need to rely on their charger. But my wife finds that communications with me is critical to her peace of mind so I am bringing a backup: a couple of those “power packs” just in case there is no room for me at the charging inn, so to speak. As someone mentioned earlier they are rechargeable batteries that are large enough to recharge your phone and other gear several times when you are away from outlets. I just bought two 10,000 mAh units which I am now testing with the devices I plan to bring to see if I need a third. I’m an engineer, its just something I gotta do. I too would say forget solar. You need about a 15W solar panel to get a reasonable rate of charge for a phone and while they do fold up, when deployed they are too large to deal with on RAGBRAI really. They also work very poorly at night when you have the most time to use them….

There are no VIRGIN police so if you don’t want to participate you don’t have to. I didn’t….

Up until now I’ve been in a motorhome for the ride. This year, for the first time in three decades, I will be sleeping in a tent. So I have also got some new RAGBRAI skills to learn.

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Sexton, June 4, 2016 at 7:01 am

Julie,
Don’t believe Ken. Canadians in the U.S. stick out because they’re so dang polite all the time, even if they’re upset about something. Welcome to the experience. If you need help with anything just ask anyone. Even that cranky looking old guy with the semi-permanently attached camelbak. That would be me.

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KenH, June 6, 2016 at 8:52 am

If you think it is possible to stand out in Iowa by being too polite you are mistaken!

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KenH, June 8, 2016 at 8:29 am

Last night I did something I have never done before. The small group that I belong to from my church wanted to have a picnic dinner and listen to the Crystal Lake Community Band perform at the park by the lake of the same name. When I was young I was at a few similar concerts, but always to play clarinet in the band. And you are likely to hear town bands performing at RAGBRAI. Last night was the first time I went to a summer evening’s town band concert in my own town as a member of the audience. At the turn of the 20th century such concerts were a major form of entertainment in small towns in America to be sure and probably in most of the western world. So besides being a pleasant evening of listening to good music, well played, it harkened back to a way of life in an earlier time.

The thing that prompted me to post about it here was that the concert opened with our national anthem, which we were instructed to sing. Contrary to what I jokingly posted earlier the audience did in fact know the lyrics to the whole song pretty well but just as I predicted the last two words were “Play Ball”! And then at the end of the evening as an encore the band played “Stars and Strips Forever”. Ahh, it doesn’t get any better than this!

I think you can expect many such moments at RAGBRAI.

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