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Heat concerns

The forecast high for council bluffs for next Saturday and Sunday are 100* with lows in the upper 70’s. If this forecast holds, I fear it will cost someone(s) their life. A/c will be hard to come by as everyone will be swarming the library’s and stores and consequently overloading those places cooling systems. Has the actual temp ever actually made it to 100*. I would anticipate dew points to be in the upper 60’s to lower 70’s. That puts heat indexes in the 105-115* range.

41 Replies

David, July 12, 2019 at 1:19 pm

The last few years have been cooler than typical. 2015 was pretty bad. The day we were in Webster City was 105 (without heat index). It didn’t cool down much at night either. By the time it dropped below 85 it was time to get up again.
The day we ended in Lake View (2012 I think) stands out as another recent day that was over 105+.

In Lake View, there wasn’t even much ice for a while. I was able to get an ice bag from the tiny grocery store and was in the shade and a family pulled in with an ~12-year old that looked like death. Not sure what they were thinking. Quickly got her laying down and some ice against the back of knees and wrists. Luckily she recovered after a while.

The current forecast isn’t looking horrible. At least in the evening, it is predicted to cool down. The first couple of days are looking worst.

AC stops aren’t worth that much while riding, it takes a long time to cool down once you are hot. Use water or wet towels on areas where there is significant blood flow close to the skin.

People that bring good battery powered fans will be happy(er) this year.


W0ODS, July 12, 2019 at 1:22 pm

The hottest I remember was in the late 90’s, maybe 1998. Officially, I believe the high was 98, but the temperature on black asphalt exceeded that by some margin.

It was so hot in places that the tires on our tandem sunk into the asphalt. I thought we had a flat. Felt like riding in wet sand. The key to getting through that day was to stop often, before you began to feel bad. “Often” was every 2-3 miles, for about 15 minutes in the shade.


garywilk, July 12, 2019 at 1:47 pm

2012 century day. 100 and the temperature over the pavement was much hotter. Plus the wind switched from the east and up and down the river bluffs which made it the hardest century I ever did. I know it was a very heavy SAG day and a lot of EMS runs for heat. First time I tried pickle juice. It does help. I think I went through 20 water bottles that day although a few went over the head. Also, remember at 10:00 it was still around 90. I think I drank beer till 2 and finally went to sleep or pasted out, not sure which.


patrsnw, July 12, 2019 at 2:27 pm

@WOODS – I think that was 1999. 1995 was hot, but bearable. 1996 and 1998 were pretty nice. 1999 is when it didn’t cool down (relative term) until Saturday when there was a bit of rain in the morning. It was my then-girlfriend-now-wife’s first RAGBRAI. (Yeah, she married me even after that miserable week.)

As in hot rides past, get up early, hydrate, and use shade when you can. Humidity isn’t supposed to be as bad as it could be – only ~50% – and, knock on wood, we should have tail- and crosswinds.


LawnchairMan, July 12, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Yes, 2012 had temps above 100° three days in a row. Century day I started at 0430 to beat the heat, and some of the wind. For me the wind hit just before I entered the Karras loop. I normally ride 20 mph on the flats, but due to the wind I struggled to get 14 mph. Beekman’s root beer float was never more appreciated.
Fortunately, I am used to the Las Vegas heat, so as long as I have water and a breeze I do OK. The killer is when I go up a challenging hill with wind that matches my speed and direction. The ambient heat an body heat add so it feels like a sauna.


dalebob, July 12, 2019 at 2:41 pm

2012 was my first RAGBRAI, after years of “It is so much fun, you will love it!” I finally gave in and rode the whole week. It was like riding into an open convection oven during the day and sleeping on hot nylon at night. But you know, it WAS fun and I did love it. It was a difficult week no doubt, but I saw people time and again helping those who struggled, kids with garden hoses asking if you want a spray, towns going out of their way to put on a good show even tho it was f@#*ing hot for them too. So yeah, get ready. It will be hot. Take it extra easy, take breaks, relax often, drink every time you see someone else take a drink, bring a fan, see you on the melting pavement.


David, July 12, 2019 at 2:55 pm

The thing about all those hot days in 2012 was they built up to that fun night in Marshalltown. Was happy to have my MSR tent that evening.


Brady Bisgard, July 12, 2019 at 3:37 pm

It looks like it will cool down after Tuesday (at least into the 80s). The good news is the evening forecasts are in the 70s so thats not horrible. Just get ready for the city pools :)


KenH, July 12, 2019 at 4:03 pm

The worst I experienced was the Friday/Saturday of 2016 before the ride started. The temperature was not above 100, as far as I know, but the humidity was very close to 100! I only rode the last three days of 2012, my first RAGBRAI, so I guess I dodged a bullet there. Did get to experience the thunderstorm in Marshalltown. If you are suffering still in the evening and you are near the RV park just knock on doors and ask if anyone can help you, I think most all of us will give you some AC time.

Even though the question has been answered already it most certainly does get over 100 in this part of the midwest some years. Nineties are more common. Dew points in the seventies are more common still. A former CEO of Motorola famously remarked during his tenure that Chicago and San Diego (his home town) both have the same average temperature, 60F. The difference, he claimed, is that in Chicago the temperature is 120F for six months and 0F for the other six. Welcome to the midwest, enjoy your stay!!

And the coldest temperature ever reported at RAGBRAI? That would be in the forties! Now ninety and one hundred are much, much more common than the forties in July but I would not put it past our weather to have both in the same week. That certainly can happen in the spring.


hnschipper, July 12, 2019 at 4:12 pm

When it is very hot/humid on RAGBRAI, it’s good to pay extra attention to those around you. There are many out there riding by themselves, and they may not realize they’re suffering from heat exhaustion/heat stroke. It doesn’t really take any extra effort to pay a little extra attention to those around you, and you could save someone’s life. And if you are riding with someone, keep on eye on each other, and make sure you’re all drinking plenty of water/electrolytes (especially kids.)


jay williams, July 12, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Are you peeing every 2-3hrs? If not, you are already behind on fluids.


trek2300, July 12, 2019 at 5:31 pm

The forecast temperatures and humidity levels could make the first several days interesting. As previously noted: keep hydrated, ride slowly, and stop frequently. To be on the safe side, consider carrying a third water bottle in a jersey pocket. Estimates vary, but some articles state perspiration rates of 1.5 to 2.5 liters per hour are typical. I “fondly” remember the Karras Loop of 2012 as one of my most demanding rides and the Stratford “Luau On The Loop” is a distant, dehydrated haze.


Cniewald, July 12, 2019 at 6:00 pm

In 2012 we had five straight days with the temps over 105. On top of that the winds were strong! It only got down to the low 90’s at night. Bring 2 beach towels one to sleep on and soak up the sweat, the other for the showers. A battery operated fan with extra batteries is a must. Drink plenty of water and make sure you don’t wash all your electrolytes out of your system. Many people went to the ER for dehydration. Stay out of the air conditioning- it just makes the heat feel that much worse.


Mike Howe, July 12, 2019 at 6:59 pm

Us Arizonans are looking forward to the cooler 100 degree temps!! Been 110 to 115 here the last few days…. but i like it like that. Less people out.


Chris, July 12, 2019 at 8:05 pm

Drink, Drink, Drink Water, pickle juice, whatever suits your fancy. Skip the beer and the soda, drink some more, and you’ll be fine. It’ll be uncomfortable, sure, but not life threatening.

I’ll pile on:


Lake View was insanely hot. People got in the lake and just stayed there for a good part of the afternoon. The poor little library was open to the public. Normally, I’d suspect there would be 3 people in there. That afternoon…..we were sitting in the aisles just to get a break. We were in the Teen Romance section. Thermometer read 103 (I have a pictures somewhere).

The winner: Stratford. “Hardest Loop in 40 years”. Like LawnchairMain said, when you turned off the main loop to the Karras loop, the wind hit you like you stuck your head in a furnace. We’re a tandem team; we were struggling to make 13mph and was doing a rotating “paceline” with 2 other tandems….and we were pulling about 15 singles behind us. It was hot, hard, and just harsh. We’d start giggling because….well, because. We were looped by the time we got to John. The Tail Gunner thought she was in an old-time video game rather than a town. Watermelon fixed that!
The winner came a little later, after the town. Whatever the hill was out of the river valley might as well have been the side of Everest. You could feel your skin sizzle trying to climb out of there.

So, yeah, 2012 was epic as could be…..and then came Marshalltown.
Talk about an out of control year.

…and it’s still our high-water-mark for “Holy crap, that year was great!”

See ya all next weekend.


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