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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

KenH, July 12, 2019 at 8:51 pm

I would add that the meeting towns each day are another place where those who feel that they have done all they can or should could check with RV owners to see if they can get a lift. There is an official SAG vehicle of course but if the weather is that bad (and it may not be, this far out there tends to be a lot of exaggeration about weather extremes) they could be overwhelmed and waits could be long. My team of four changes drivers at the meeting town every day. We can accommodate six riders and bikes so even if we all decide to call it quits at the meeting town we’d still have room for two and perhaps five if three of us continue on. We could get you to the overnight town in comfort and you can try again the next day. If you feel you need help, seek it and you will find it somewhere. Don’t take risks with your health and especially not with your youngsters help.


Miss Curmudgeonly, July 12, 2019 at 11:05 pm

2012 was horrible as far as heat, and “ruined” me in that it stayed so hot at night that it was hard to sleep, and for the last few years I’ve frozen at night because I think “oh, I don’t need any kind of blanket!” and it’s gotten pretty cold at night.

I recall the ambulance sirens all day as people were dropping like flies. One day towards the end of that day’s route, I saw a retention pond by a subdivision, and just dropped my bike, took off my shoes, walked right in. It was tepid but better than the heat. When I left there were maybe 50 people in there.

As far as actual temps, yes, in the 100s. One time I was standing at the side of the road by the Watermelon Guy stand with some other people, and over the radio we hear “and xxx (i forget which town -des moines?) has broken a previous record of 108!” – and a girl’s temp gauge on her bike, in the blazing sun and on the blacktop, read something like 128. That was the one year we started out when it was pre-dawn, because as soon as the sun came up, it was like being a vampire. No! No sun! The headwind days, where it felt like biking in a windy oven, people would bike a couple of miles and then camp out under trees in front of farmhouses. Then repeat.

So yeah, it gets hot, you soldier on. I found the townspeople always VERY helpful – setting up sprinklers, misters, etc.


GP_in_SD, July 13, 2019 at 11:59 am

My first Ragbrai was III and I’ve done 25 or so since (lost count at this point). I remember a very hot Ragbrai in the late 70’s. It was one of my first wearing true bike shorts and I was amazed one day that it was so hot when we got in town my black shorts were stained white with salt sweat. As I recall, someone died that day and I think that might have been the first death on Ragbrai so the combination of the two events left an impression.

2012 does standout as a bad year though. I think it was on the way into Webster City that I saw a Highway Patrolman use a heat gun on the pavement that registered 120. We stopped at a farmhouse outside of Webster City where the owner had a garden hose running and sat in the shade watching people play in the developing mud hole. As we left that farm, I noticed it had been so dry that in some places there were cracks in the earth several inches wide due to lack of rain. The next day on the way into Marshalltown my niece fell on some gravel and we had to take her into the hospital. Spent the night in a school gym which lite up and echoed during the thunderstorm. I like storms so lots of fun :-)


John Condon, July 13, 2019 at 12:48 pm

I’ve been on 13 RAGBRAIs in a row, and here are a few tips, mostly learned the hard way.

1. Ride early and don’t dally at stops. The heat only builds.
2. When it is very hot, I wear a white cotton long sleeved shirt and soak it with water every 5 miles or so. Got me through 2012.
3. Cover your helmet with a helmet hat (They use a lot of these visor/legionarre hats in Australia).
4. Get as much rest/sleep as possible. A fan is a must!

In 2012, Wednesday going to Marshalltown was the worst of 4 days over 100. Marshalltown was 107 degrees at 6 PM. I drove the van (didn’t ride) and that was the best decision in recorded world history. The hospital was full that night from heat injuries. A huge storm blew in at 8:30 PM, cancelling events and blowing tents into Illinois, but it snapped the heat. The next day was 80 miles to Cedar Rapids and I could have ridden twice that distance. Tailwinds and pleasant temps all the way.


jelly0317, July 13, 2019 at 1:34 pm

As I recall, the first RAGBRAI death occurred in 1984. Keep in mind that what works for one person doesn’t work for others. I leave each day at 8:00, regardless of the temperature forecast, don’t wear long sleeves or cover my helmet vents, and don’t use a tent fan. Somehow, I’ve survived 35 rides.


John Condon, July 13, 2019 at 2:11 pm

You are one tough rider!


SFC JKL 2, July 13, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Don’t forget the sunscreen and O2cool fans are the greatest.


John Condon, July 13, 2019 at 3:39 pm

True that!


LawnchairMan, July 13, 2019 at 6:13 pm

I have a suggestion I don’t think has been posted yet. Specially on hot days, try to breathe through your nose and keep your mouth closed. I know it is hard to do, specially when climbing, but more water evaporates if you have your mouth open. I think that that amount of water would cool more through sweat. It seams to work for me, and my mouth doesn’t feel as dry.


John Kiehl, July 13, 2019 at 7:05 pm

My last RAGBRAI was in 2012 and I remember the extreme heat and headwinds the beginning of the week. Hoping for better temperatures this year but I survived the last time and will again. Just need to be sensible and keep hydrated.


Low Rider, July 13, 2019 at 7:39 pm

2012 was hot. Lots of business for the hospitals. The scariest sight for me was watching a women on a bike 20 ft ahead of me just fall over to the left, she didn’t even bounce, she was just flat on the pavement.

Riding into Lake City I realized I had a plumbing malfunction. I was lucky the route went by the hospital, so I went there to get parts to fix my issue. I went into the ED through the ambulance bay, and there were bikes leaning against the bay walls. As I was waiting for the repair parts I heard a man say “I want to leave” and another voice say “We have given you 2 liters of saline in an IV and you haven’t pee’d, you aren’t leaving until you pee”. Talking to the nurse as we were fixing my issue he told me all the area hospitals were full and having to divert patients because of all the heat exhaustion and dehydration cases.

Regardless of whether 2019 is the hottest year or has some of the hotest days, be smart, stay hydrated (bad news – alcohol dehydrates) and find places to cool off, often.


Ken Reed, July 15, 2019 at 8:05 am

I remember riding into Marshalltown in 2012 and the bank sign saying 106. The day from Webster City was all south to M-Town and there was a strong south wind. It felt like riding into a hairdryer all damn day. That year, the weather finally got better on Friday. I’m not worried about the heat. Just stay hydrated and take breaks. After 2012, a week in the upper 90s will be a cake-walk.


KenH, July 15, 2019 at 8:43 am

I don’t know how much predictions vary and it is still a little early to put much stock in them but the Accuweather predictions for each overnight town next week are currently in the mid to high 80’s. That is pretty typical RAGBRAI weather and if you slow down, manage your hydration properly, and take cooling breaks when you need them it will be very rideable weather. Hopefully the predictions will trend down rather than up as we approach the point where they become fairly trustworthy!


Cory Rood, July 15, 2019 at 8:45 am

Yup, forecast has gotten alot better temp wise. Saturday and Sunday still look hot but not quite as bad.


Bentongoing, July 15, 2019 at 9:48 am

2012 was memorable! I did the Karras loop, but I was on a trike 6″ off the pavement!!!!
And the last 20 miles I don’t recall seeing any water stations – perhaps I was delirious!


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