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Gravel Loop????

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

77 Replies

andytetmeyer, June 29, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Screw it – I’m going to risk it and limp my dirty broken bike the last few miles to Shenandoah. If I don’t get eaten by bears first.


bradcss, June 30, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Gravel loop does not “Frighten” me, people are asking for advice, which is what I am giving. You said you didn’t hear of a crash & saw only one flat last year. You wouldn’t know what happened on the loop for the entire day unless you could simultaneously be everywhere on the loop for the entire day. I have personally heard of MANY mishaps and flats on the gravel loop, including last year. So my advice stands, people can take it or leave it.


Michrider !!!, June 30, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Personally, I prefer a slice of warm apple pie, topped by a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream!!! However, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!!


Brian Wallenburg, June 30, 2016 at 6:31 pm

When I get my post ride survey, I’m going to request a full 7 day gravel route for all the grinders. Less bikes on the paved route and everyone will be happy!


jeffreydennis, June 30, 2016 at 8:29 pm

I’m riding tubeless 25’s and will take it on this year


KenH, June 30, 2016 at 9:55 pm

I have no idea how many people had trouble on the gravel loop last year. I only know that I saw none and I heard of none later even though I talked to quite a few who had ridden it. I know that last year I saw my first person fixing a flat just about a mile from the Missouri River dip site. I believe it was on gravel loop day that there was a RR crossing that made a very acute angle with the road. A light rain had made it quite slick and by the time we reached it there were officials there forcing us to dismount and walk across it. I have never been able to verify this but I later heard that 700 people had gone down there before they started forcing us to walk it and there were 14 (I think) separated shoulders. The people I personally saw on the gravel loop appeared to be having no particular trouble but you are right, I did not stay there the whole day and interview every rider.

I can say this however, the gravel loop is back this year with no warnings to potential riders while the pre-ride blog did mention that the crew was studying one RR crossing on this year’s route very carefully. I take the latter to verify not the details that I heard about it but the general level of risk at that one RR crossing last year. There are hazards on this ride and by its nature gravel is a bit trickier to ride and therefore can be expected to cause more trouble per rider-mile than pavement in good condition will. I don’t think it was the worst trouble spot last year or will be the worst trouble spot this year. The one injured during RAGBRAI statistic that I know personally crashed last year in a totally mundane section of paved road when a member of a pace line misjudged his spacing to my friend, clipped him as he shot by, and they both went down with the result that my friend got a separated shoulder and his RAGBRAI was over.

I did not mean to imply that any particular person posting here was frightened by the gravel loop. In fact I said there is no shame in skipping it. I know for a fact that many riders are afraid to ride gravel. I see it in their eyes and hear it in their responses every time I mention that RAGBRAI has a gravel loop to the crowd at the local bike shop. But not all of them and certainly not the shop owner or his crew. I don’t agree with your assessment of the risk level that gravel poses but I do agree that it is riskier than pavement and I mean you no disrespect by disagreeing with you.


jwsknk, July 1, 2016 at 10:29 am

you can always come to Iowa for this ride if you really want gravel.


jonlumpkin, July 2, 2016 at 10:40 pm

I’d rock the cross bike and 40s for that :)


mootsman, July 5, 2016 at 7:23 am


Gravel biking has become a big deal as there are many gravel bike events. There is a century in my home state on gravel as well as many other events 50+ miles in length. Plus I think there is a cross-state ride mostly on gravel in Iowa. The little loop on RAGBRAI is not a challenge compared to those. Yes, if you think gravel with a road bike on gravel is scary stay off the loop. But many love riding gravel, even on road bikes. And Ken is not “dead wrong”. Those who brave what they are uncomfortable with sometimes find a new passion.


mootsman, July 5, 2016 at 7:42 am


I used 25mm tubeless on the gravel loop last year. They worked great. I started using 25mm tubeless on the road this year instead of 23s but have been getting far more punctures. I think due to the wider contact patch. 3 punctures on 25mm Hutch Fusions and 1 on a worn Hutch Inversion. I had 14,000+ miles with 1 puncture on 23mm Fusions on pavement but 4 on 25s in 2,500 miles. Could be just bad luck though. (or good luck on the 23s)..


Brian Wallenburg, July 5, 2016 at 8:35 am

mootsman I don’t think your increased flats are bad luck. I’ve experienced the same thing and have since gone back to 23’s with much fewer flats. Not to mention, the 25’s were gator skins.


KenH, July 5, 2016 at 8:47 am

Luck plays a huge role in anecdotal puncture reports unfortunately as do local conditions. People who live in areas where “goat head thorns” are common report alarming puncture rates unless they ride one of the “bulletproof” tire models, which are not very efficient of course. I’ve had one puncture in about 8000 miles with my first set of 38mm Vittorias which are very efficient but not so very puncture resistant. I’ve just put the second set on and they may be a little more efficient and a little less puncture resistant so we will see. There is a huge difference between them and your 23s so I tend to doubt that the width difference has a whole lot to do with the puncture rate on your 25s.

There is a gravel metric century every year near me. I just heard about it this year and had a schedule conflict, maybe next year. I am sure it gets a lot of cross bikes and fat tire bikes but I would be surprised if it gets no road bikes.


mootsman, July 6, 2016 at 7:18 am


I have gone back to 23s on my 1 road bike as I’ve used up the 25 Fusions. I still have to stick with 25s on my older road bike since I converted the wheels to 25mm rims for durability (ironically enough).


I think rider weight also plays a role in different puncture rates. I’m about 185. That will increase the contact patch and down force when running over glass compared to lighter weight riders. You may want to look at contact groups for Gravel Rides in your area. I foundf one on FB for my area and it turned out there was a whole schedule of 1 day gravel day event rides. The one I planned on this year had rain hit the night before. Getting wet doesn’t bother me but cleaning the drive train after is something I hate.


Brian Wallenburg, July 6, 2016 at 6:26 pm

I’d say rider weight and contact point plays a the biggest part, much like all other parts on a bicycle. I’m 230 lbs and have tried the “bullet proof” tires. They are a waste of money for me. In general, a 38mm tire is much thicker and heaver than a 23 or 25 and much more durable. Performance though… considered to a 23 or 25mm, no comparison.


GetAClue Blue, July 13, 2016 at 7:14 am

I agree, missing Beekmans is unacceptable.


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