First Timer Questions

Hi Everyone! Well I seemed to have gotten myself talked into helping my friend check something off of his bucket list, so it looks like I’m riding the RAGBRAI!  It actually sounds like a lot of fun, but with something new comes a lot of questions. So I’m hoping someone could help me with some of these.

1.  We thought about taking an RV, but it seemed like the logistics of getting the RV from point A to B each day isn’t going to work UNLESS someone has an idea. 
2.  There is no way I can possibly sleep on the hard ground for a week and still be able to complete the ride.  Has anyone brought an air mattress or something like it with them and is there a place to blow it up?  Are there any other ideas or recommenations other than an air mattress? 
3. What do most people carry with them on their bikes other than the normal maintenace stuff?  Do people carry a change or clothes or rain gear in a backpack?

I apologize in advance for all of the questions, but I want to make sure I’m prepared since I’m a newbie. I’m looking forward to helping my friend to meet his goal, and meeting you all out on the route.

43 Replies

Michrider !!!, January 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm

1. With an RV you’d need a driver or one of your group would have to take turns driving alternate days.
2. An air mattress will work, just bring a battery operated pump.
3. I usually carry some type of rain gear on my bike (rear rack & bag) plus a few basic tools (no change of clothes).

Welcome to RAGBRAI, you’ll have a great time!

#13214

rfattic, January 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

RV’s are nice you only need a driver or trade off driving.   In order to be issued a vehicle pass you need 4 or more in your group and there are a limited number issued.  Next best is using a charter.  Check out the info under “about RAGBRAI”.  Most of the information you want and need is listed there.

#13215

Davy Sprocket, January 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Did someone mention RV’s?

Dude, you have got to go the RV route.  It is the BOMB!  Of course, that is only if you like having your own person hot shower, toilet and soft comfortable bed all in the comfort of airconditioning and a hard roof over your head.  Oh, yeah, don’t forget about the cold beer in the fridge just waiting for your daily arrival.  Just find a friend of spouse or spouse of a friend that is willing to drive for you.  I pay my driver $500 and all the food and drinks for the week and he loves it and has been doing it for the last 7-years.  I would be happy to answer any other RV question you have and I can tell you that riding out a severe Iowa thunderstorm in a tent sucks.  In an RV, you barely know it is raining.  Oh, and with an RV, you can leave town whenever you want.  You don’t have to have your tent rolled up and bags packed by 8:00am each day.  The day is on your schedule and no one elses.

Welcome and good luck.

#13216

ScottStoef, January 25, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I actually thought about hiring a driver but didn’t think that would be very safe. It is one thing for someone to drive a car, but a 25′ RV is something different. Besides I like the idea of having my on sag and if it rains heading to the next stop being comfortable and dry. I don’t enjoy riding in the rain and don’t like getting my bike wet!

#13217

Davy Sprocket, January 25, 2011 at 8:54 pm

ScottStoef said: I actually thought about hiring a driver but didn’t think that would be very safe. It is one thing for someone to drive a car, but a 25′ RV is something different. Besides I like the idea of having my on sag and if it rains heading to the next stop being comfortable and dry. I don’t enjoy riding in the rain and don’t like getting my bike wet!

I am afraid that riding in the rain is pretty hard to avoid, although typically, we only have 1 mayby 2 days of rain on the ride.  It isn’t that bad to ride in it.  Last year it rained hard the morning leaving Waterloo.  I just sat in my RV until it stopped around 11:30am and rode under blue skies and bright sun.  Of course that was after I enjoyed a wonderful omlette, toast, coffee and champagne in my RV waiting for the rain to stop.  LOL.

#13218

Michrider !!!, January 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm

ScottStoef said: I actually thought about hiring a driver but didn’t think that would be very safe. It is one thing for someone to drive a car, but a 25′ RV is something different. Besides I like the idea of having my on sag and if it rains heading to the next stop being comfortable and dry. I don’t enjoy riding in the rain and don’t like getting my bike wet!

If you have your own SAG, you’ll only be able to meet up at the meeting town, approximately half way into the route or more each day.  Vehicles have to follow a different route than the riders. 

#13219

Davy Sprocket, January 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Michrider said:

ScottStoef said: I actually thought about hiring a driver but didn’t think that would be very safe. It is one thing for someone to drive a car, but a 25′ RV is something different. Besides I like the idea of having my on sag and if it rains heading to the next stop being comfortable and dry. I don’t enjoy riding in the rain and don’t like getting my bike wet!

If you have your own SAG, you’ll only be able to meet up at the meeting town, approximately half way into the route or more each day.  Vehicles have to follow a different route than the riders. 

Michrider is mostly correct, but technically, vehicles can’t be prevented from any roads and a savy driver can find many “off-route” roads which intersect with the route if they really need to pick up a rider.  Truth told, you don’t want to drive the bike route, but like I said, there are a plethora of roads that intersect the route which can be used.  A good cell  phone or GPS or even an old fashioned road map is quite useful for this task.

#13220

Michrider !!!, January 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Davy Sprocket said:

Michrider said:

ScottStoef said: I actually thought about hiring a driver but didn’t think that would be very safe. It is one thing for someone to drive a car, but a 25′ RV is something different. Besides I like the idea of having my on sag and if it rains heading to the next stop being comfortable and dry. I don’t enjoy riding in the rain and don’t like getting my bike wet!

If you have your own SAG, you’ll only be able to meet up at the meeting town, approximately half way into the route or more each day.  Vehicles have to follow a different route than the riders. 

Michrider is mostly correct, but technically, vehicles can’t be prevented from any roads and a savy driver can find many “off-route” roads which intersect with the route if they really need to pick up a rider.  Truth told, you don’t want to drive the bike route, but like I said, there are a plethora of roads that intersect the route which can be used.  A good cell  phone or GPS or even an old fashioned road map is quite useful for this task.
Would that be a plethora of gravel roads?????

#13221

Davy Sprocket, January 25, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Yes. Indeed those roads of gravel would qualify as a plethora.  Just the sweaters that awaited El Guapo on his birthday.

#13222

jwsknk, January 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

Waterloo we sat out the rain at the high school we camped at. left just a little too soon and road through the tail end of the rain for 5 miles. Left that bar about 12:30 and had sunny skies the rest of the day. Did have a jersey packed on the bike so I could loose the rain jacket, thats the only time I pack clothes, it it’s raining when we leave I I want something dry, esp shorts, for later.
If you get caught out on the road during the day and it statrs to rain, most of the time it won’t last all day and you can wait it out in a town or a barn, if not, the large trash bags seem to make good rain parachutes for some, ( they really catch a lot of wind), Getting to a cross road to get picked up might leave you sitting out in the open for awhile.

#13223

Sandaltan ., January 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

If you go to  http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/   and search RAGBRAI you will find over three dozen mentions of the event and several good accounts of the adventure.  Plenty of reading to occupy your thoughts until spring.

RIDE RIGHT

#13224

Michrider !!!, January 26, 2011 at 9:50 am

The ride out of Waterloo was wet and cold!  I think that’s the coldest day that I’ve ever rode in July!  I did 30 miles, stopped at some farmers roadside stand cause they had coffee & food.  They ran out of styrafoam cups so they went into their home and brought out coffee mugs to use.  I sat in his barn for about an hour until the sky cleared. That’s the kind of hospitiality we find in Iowa.  The people are the greatest!!!!

#13225

Michrider !!!, January 26, 2011 at 9:55 am

My avatar picture of my Budweiser truck was taken in Quasqueton’s beer garden.  It had just stopped raining. The sun came out and we had a nice warm headwind to dry us out.  It was the best headwind ever!!!!

#13226

KittySlayer, January 26, 2011 at 11:50 am

ScottStoef said: …It actually sounds like a lot of fun, but… 2… ideas or recommenations other than an air mattress? …3. What do most people carry with them on their bikes other than the normal maintenace stuff?  Do people carry a change or clothes or rain gear in a backpack?4…I don’t enjoy riding in the rain and don’t like getting my bike wet!.

2. I have always been happy with a Thermarest mattress. They look really thin and you will have to go to a store, inflate one and lay on the floor of the store to believe it will work. A buddy of mine has a Big Agnes mattress which is like a high quality inflated pool mattress that packs really small.

3. You really don’t need to haul a whole bunch of crap. Everything I need beyond my normal bike mtc. stuff in my saddle bag fits in my jersey pockets. Small zip bag with cash, ID, credit card, lip balm. Small tube of sunscreen. Advil and a couple of KFC handwipes. Route terrain and distance of towns and a Beer Guide with a pinup girl laminated on the back for inspiration. IF there is a good chance of rain then a small, folded raincoat and cycling cap.

4. Your bike is a tool, not a work of art. A few days of rain will not hurt it. And as sweet as my wife is, she does not melt in the rain either. Get a well ventilated raincoat and a cycling cap. Watch the clouds, sometimes you can sit out a short shower in the local bar. If you get wet you will dry.

Oh, and for your original thought. Yes, it is a lot of fun!

#13227

Satman, January 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm

1.  RV is great ~ but a Charter might be better for two of you.
      See the list on this site.
2.  Bring a huge air mattress with a battery pump.  They both weigh a lot,
      but who cares ~ the RV or Charter will be carrying them.  Your body
      will thank you!  Don’t forget a tent fan.
3.  Tuck something in for rain and/or cold.  Easy to carry and a lifesaver ir
      the weather turns, which it often does.
That Waterloo to Manchester leg last year was nasty.  Rain and cold from
about 7:00 am until 1:00.  If we would have slept in till noon, we would have
ridden in sunshine the whole way.  I was under dressed and frozen!

#13228

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