GRAGAAWR

Any of you guys ever ride GRABAAWR? My wife cannot do RAGBRAI this year and is thinking about Wisconsin ride and wants to know – in comparison to, say, a central Iowa RAGBRAI – how hilly it is. She has a bit of a bad knee plus she’ll likely go with a few girlfriends that are ok as riders, but not great.

17 Replies

giantron, December 20, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I did GRABAAWR last year with 2 other RAGBRAI veterans and we all agree it was harder than RAGBRAI due to hills. But way more scenic. The advantage is it (usually) is cooler and less crowded (300 people on it last year) but just hillier.
I’ve done 3 rides with BikeWisconsin and they do a really nice job. But as others have said, it ain’t RAGBRAI, so don’t expect that.
I highly recommend if you do it to buy the breakfast package since finding food on the rode is sometimes difficult since they tend to go rural routes. But you can get lunch and dinner on your own easily.
I think all the other posts covered things pretty well.

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Arthur Hackett, December 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I’ve done GRABAAWR probably ten times going back to 1995 and including the past two years. As for hills, all I can say is that when I went up Potter’s hill outside of Dubuque, dodging riders falling off their bikes as I went, when I reached the top I said in a very bad French accent (It’s Dubuque, right) “In Wisconsin we spit on hills like you.”

The ride was definitely bigger the first time I rode it. I enjoyed the crowd (but then I had never ridden RAGBRAI then) The thing to remember is that most of the cities along the route in Wisconsin are bigger than some of the overnights on RAGBRAI. Even 1,200 riders just wasn’t that big a deal. Nothing against Iowa. We’re just a more populous state.
I like the carnival atmosphere on RAGBRAI. This year I’ll do both.
As for the route changes, I’m guessing the end in Richland Center has to do with the fact that at the time the ride was being planned, Iowa County was contemplating a very harsh ordinance on group rides that would have made it impossible to take the traditional route through Spring Green. I’m told that ordinance is on hold but you can’t plan in advance for a ride when there’s a risk of politicians throwing up a roadblock a month before the ride.
One thing new this year is a double overnight in Baraboo. There will be a loop out of Baraboo which, given the terrain around there, promises to have more hills than you can stand. And if you want a longer ride, there is always a century option on the first day. For the record, my total mileage on GRABAAWR was 532, counting in town rides in the evening.
I’ll tell folks here what I’ve told people on RAGBRAI who asked about my GRABAAWR shirts they should give the Wisconsin ride a try. Because it goes north to south you will experience a far greater variety of terrain and climate than you will get crossing Iowa from west to east. That’s not a knock on Iowa. It’s just the geographic hand Mother Nature dealt.

And because the crowds are smaller, you can pace yourself, take advantage of managing downhill momentum, and enjoy the scenery without worrying about running into the pile of riders in front of you.

And one more thing: The beer is way, way, better here. Just sayin’

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