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Gravel Loop????

Will we have a Gravel Loop this year? I really enjoyed that last year!!!

77 Replies

KenH, March 1, 2016 at 10:03 pm

There will be a gravel loop, on the first day. The route details are going to be released day by day starting next Sunday.


sethjayson, March 7, 2016 at 8:26 am

Anyone know just how gravelly the gravel loop is this year? I mean, there’s gravel and there’s gravel. The roads on the map look like pretty major gravel access roads, so my guess is they’ll be on the good end of the gravel spectrum.


jwsknk, March 7, 2016 at 8:34 am

depends a lot on the weather and what the county road crews do. Have seen everything from blading all the gravel over to the sides to what looked like fresh gravel spread a day or two earlier. That was all back when gravel wasn’t an option.


KenH, March 7, 2016 at 11:06 am

The route of the gravel loop has been released, it is 18 miles and it looks like about half of it is paved. Very hilly compared to last year. Unlike last year Google Maps seems to have a street level view for the entire loop so you can “ride” it from your computer and form your own impressions. I looked over a mile or two of Google’s views and I’d say it will be a lot like last year’s with more hills.


Bernard Schwartze, March 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Will we be staying on the road or taking the Wabash-Trace Nature Trail during the loop?


KenH, March 7, 2016 at 12:28 pm

To me, the official route appears to stay on roads. If you go off route straight where it turns south a couple of miles north of Imogene you could pick up the trail and take it to that town. At that point you could rejoin the official gravel loop route heading west or continue south on the trail to Shenandoah. My guess is that you would miss Beekmans if you run the trail from Imogene to Shenandoah and that is unacceptable!


Bernard Schwartze, March 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm

good call on Beekmans!


jwsknk, March 7, 2016 at 1:23 pm

After Randolph the gravel loop goes north on L68, east on J12 to M21 where it goes south through Imogene. turns back west on J18 to the corner of L68 where the route goes south. Now if you wanted to take the Wabash Trace it’s possible to get on that right before Malvern, go through the town to Imogene and end up in Shenandoah. It was a mixture of gravel and dirt, last time I was on it in spots there we just 2 paths about atv width apart in places.


KenH, March 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm

So there’s a thought. You could run the trail from Malvern (I didn’t look that far north) to Imogene, then run back to Randolph on the route. Just be very careful going the wrong way into Randolph. Then you could ride the trail, see all the towns, and probably not miss Beekmans. One must have one’s priorities correct!


515rider, March 7, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Am I seeing tbis right? Only about half the gravel route is actually on gravel?


KenH, March 7, 2016 at 10:32 pm

That is how it looks to me too. That is rather inexplicable, eh? There are a couple of things you could potentially do to fix this. If this year is anything like last year the traffic on the gravel loop will be very light. It would not be much of a risk to ride the gravel road the right way to Imogene, grab your patch and a cold one, and then ride it the wrong way back to the main route.

If it is anything like last year there will be people riding both ways on the paved portion of the “gravel” loop anyway to get their patches without the pain of riding on, you know, gravel….

It also appears feasible to drop south of Imogene on either the bike trail or on, say, 405 Ave to 130 Street west to the main route and have a full gravel loop. Seriously, if it were me I would make this the official gravel route and BLOCK 120 St/184 TO BICYCLE TRAFFIC. It’s just a patch people, and it means nothing if you cheat by riding on a paved road to get it….

Sorry, the sight of people actually cheating to get their gravel patch rather than honoring the memory of Steve Hed last year struck me as very un-RAGBRAI.


515rider, March 8, 2016 at 6:59 am

130 Street does have a couple sections of earthen or Level B roads which could be a challange for some, especially if it is muddy. Going west from Imogene on 110 and 115 would make the loop nearly all gravel. I expect many, myself included, would do that instead of J18 since it’s such a low mileage day.


genefruit, March 8, 2016 at 7:40 am

I plan on riding this alternate route –


KenH, March 8, 2016 at 8:35 am

Sorry if this is a repeat but my login appears to have expired while I was typing this the first time and I think the original has been lost in the great internet trash bin forever.

I just used Google Maps street view to “ride” 130th Street and I see what you mean. There are two miles of what looks like plain dirt between 370th and 380th Avenues and 330th and 340th Avenues. Challenging for “some” riders if wet? Nay, they look challenging for anyone not on a really fat tire bike if wet and probably unpleasant even then but of course if you own such a bike then some part of you must relish such unpleasantness!! Very few RAGBRAI riders use a bike that will be up to those stretches if they are good and wet. But it is possible to bypass those two miles by heading up to the official route and then dropping back down to 130th Street so this is my tentative plan: ride 130 the whole way if it is firm enough for my 38mm Voyager Hypers and use the official route for those two miles if it is not.


KenH, March 8, 2016 at 8:43 am

Oh, the Google street view makes it plain that you should NOT plan on taking the bike trail south out of Imogene to 130th Street. The bike trail crosses 130 on an old railroad trestle so no access to 130 from the trail. However, if you want to get a taste of the Wabash Trace Nature Trail you can continue on J12 for a short distance past where the main gravel route turns south on M21/309 towards Imogene. Pick up the trail where it crosses J12 and take the trail into town. That seems like a nice option for those of us who have never ridden the trail and the gravel loop traffic is likely to be low enough that one wonders why it is not the official route.


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