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Gravel Loop????

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

77 Replies

BIANCHI-BRETT, March 8, 2016 at 3:44 pm

I know what you mean about the cheating Ken. I see people riding in at the finish of the Karras Loop every year to get a patch they didn’t earn. Don’t get it but if it makes them happy… Once saw a bandit in line to get a loop patch, I almost went FMC on him!


jwsknk, March 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm

That’s why they try to get a town near the middle of the loop and you are supposed to show your wristband to get a patch.


515rider, March 8, 2016 at 7:21 pm

If a Google Street View car can make it down the Level B road then so can you! But seriously, that’s some pretty good Street View coverage in SW IA. Its not even that good around Des Moines.


bearpath, March 8, 2016 at 8:47 pm

Tim, once I get that derailleur out from my rear wheel, where it remains wedged after snapping off the bracket, and replace the trashed bike frame, wheel and derailleur, I’ll consider the gravel loop so we end up at the campsite at roughly the same time, like last year… Gravel,
the first day of RAGBRAI on a road bike? What can go wrong?


Brian Wallenburg, March 8, 2016 at 8:52 pm

I got a bunch of “earned” Karras Loop patches if someone wants them to cheat and say the earned it. I ride for fun and never really know why I get in line to get them. I figure I paid for the miles with the registration, I might as well ride them.


KenH, March 8, 2016 at 9:37 pm

515rider: If a Google Street View car can make it down the Level B road then so can you! But seriously, that’s some pretty good Street View coverage in SW IA. Its not even that good around Des Moines.

I don’t dispute that, but if July is wet enough neither the Google car nor I will make it down the level B road! I am delighted to see the Google cars venturing down the gravel roads of Iowa. When I tried to look at last year’s loop I felt like Moses: I could stand at the intersection and look into the promised land but Google would not allow me to go there. So I don’t know if Google is gradually and systematically completing its street view coverage or if we just got lucky this year and are riding roads that got covered before the money ran out!?

I’m not that bent out of shape about gravel loop cheaters. I might even have forgotten about them by now but one of them very nearly ran me down last year. We were both waiting to cross the busy paved road through Pomeroy. I was going straight across to complete the gravel loop and assumed the guy on my right was too. He was going to turn left to take the paved road north to the main route after collecting his patch and apparently he assumed everyone else was doing the same. So when the cross traffic cleared and we all took off he attempted to complete his left turn by running through me. That makes the experience hard to forget!


Thoreau, March 9, 2016 at 1:50 pm

I’m going to do the gravel loop this year on my standard road bike. I didn’t do it last year, but other riders on my team who did ride it i 2015 had no problem. I’m excited to give it a try–it seems like Ragbrai is a good time to try new things. Plus I rode a lot of gravel on my road bike a few years ago to see the Buddy Holly memorial and that was OK and very much worth it–I just had to take it easy.


John, March 9, 2016 at 11:07 pm

Gravel roads in Iowa during the summer can be anything from packed gravel/almost pavement-like, to loose gravel, to Class B (no county maintenance) roads and worse. I see the complete range, sometimes all on the same ride.

As this year’s gravel loop is fairly close to home for me (and right off some of my usual training rides), now that the initial routes have been posted I’ll see if I can’t do some reconnoitering, and hopefully remember to write a review for anyone interested…


Anonymous, March 10, 2016 at 3:28 am

Class B (no county maintenance) roads and worse.

John, I think you meant to say Class B roads are maintained but no snow removal in the winter and such.


KenH, March 10, 2016 at 8:08 am

Here is the State of Iowa’s official position on class B roads:


Looks like fun to me if it isn’t too wet!

A standard road bike is fine for gravel roads. It is even better if you were to put the widest tires that will fit on it. There is something to be said for even 4 inch tires (and above!) but 28s are much more likely to fit the average road bike and they probably provide 80% or so of the benefit on dry days. Because the pro racers have finally seen their advantages for the spring classics there are some very fine 28s available these days too. You could run them all week and notice no difference other than road cracks and other hazards are less of a concern. But, I might as well preach this to any random rural Iowa fence post because you are all going to run your 23s and stay in the car tire packed tracks on the gravel roads until you die! But you will have fun anyway so bike on!!


Chris Miller, March 10, 2016 at 4:08 pm

I am a RAGBRAI first timer….find this whole thing fascinating. I am especially intrigued now by the references to Beekmans. Sounds like a pilgrimage destination worthy of the gravel loop. Can someone fill me on what exactly Beekmans is?


czysk, March 10, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Beekmans is the best ice cream you have ever eaten. It is churned with antique gasoline powered farm engines. They set up in a farmers yard about 15 miles from the end town every day. Other than the road signs, the engines can be heard before Beekmans is in sight. It’s a must stop at least once. I stop every day.


Chris Miller, March 10, 2016 at 7:30 pm

This is a very helpful forum…I am bringing the 28’s and hoping the gravel leads to Beekmans.


Brian Wallenburg, March 10, 2016 at 7:39 pm

You’ll hit Beekman’s, gravel or not! I assure you, they will be on a paved road. It’s worth the stop. Ice Cream, lawn chairs and shade, while taking a break on a hot summer bike ride…..


wnl256, March 11, 2016 at 7:40 am

Beekmans will be there every day (except maybe Saturday). The Wabash Trail is only there on Monday. So I’m planning to take the trail from Imogene to Shenandoah. From Earth View it looks like it will be a very pleasant ride and …… it will be *shady*!!

Since I don’t have the right equipment for the gravel loop I will probably go the wrong way down J18 to get to the trail. I may sidetrack in to Imogene just to see it before starting on the trail. I won’t be getting a patch, because claiming an unearned patch is just wrong.


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