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Gravel Loop????

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

77 Replies

KenH, July 13, 2016 at 8:56 am

I started the year at 200, 201, whatever it takes. Currently I am down to 190 which will be the lowest weight I have ever carried into RAGBRAI. In other words I have a reasonably wide contact patch! Generally speaking tires in the 38 mm and above range are thicker, heavier, and more durable all at the expense of performance. The Vittoria Voyager Hypers that I currently have and the very similar Randonneur Hypers (probably just a name change) that they replaced are thin, light, and efficient. Well worth considering if you want a high performance “fat” tire. But they have little in the way of puncture protection so if that has been a problem for you then you need to look elsewhere.

I’ll keep an eye out for gravel rides after RAGBRAI. I did check and the closest one I’ve found so far is in ……….. IOWA!


sethjayson, July 13, 2016 at 10:06 am

I think the warnings about gravel are a little overwrought. Selfishly, I hope many people take them, because I plan to ride the gravel loop for the relative decline in traffic.

Unless something changes drastically between the streetview conditions and what’s visible over the first couple miles, I’ll be riding it on a carbon-fiber recumbent with ground clearance of < 3 inches. Widest tire will be a 25. Am I worried? Naw.

We finish up our long rides on a trail with 2-3 miles of horrible, awful gravel and chopped up paved trail with root bumps across it so bad they’re like a 3×3 bolted across the trail. Babyheads, poorly-conceived cement, potholes, deep, loose rock on 90 degree corners, deep mud holes from the frequent creek overflows (every 2nd rainstorm). The sections that are merely gravel feature the usual tire tracks with deeper stuff alongside, and they’re perfectly fine, even with a squirrely, low-center-of-gravity recumbent that would rather be going 30 mph. We’re on 23s in back at this point, so on the skinny end of things.

Never had a flat — though I suppose it’s possible to scuff a sidewall. Flats are normally always a glass chip through the bottom from the civilized, paved roads.

The climbing will make it more of a challenge, and the descents will be interesting given that, depending on the availability of a worn track and the depth of the bordering gravel, it will probably be unwise to stay off the brakes, but if you plod along at 8-10 mph on the gravel section, you’ve only added and hour or an hour fifteen to your day. Well worth it to see a few more sites and visit another little town.

I may swear otherwise changing a flat on the side of the road, or choking on the dust down there at an altitude of 27 inches, but that’d just be a momentary challenge and a fun memory.

The dirt will wash off and drive trains are consumables anyway.


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