Hills: Last year vs this

I have been wondering about how this year’s hills compare to last year’s. I have just done the math for feet of climb per mile. I find the results interesting and scary.

(does not include Karras loop)

This tells me that we will have it easy the first four days, but the last day will be a killer! I think the worst day last year was day three at 56.7 feet of climb per mile, but 71.4? I hope this is a typo somewhere. 71.4 feet per mile is what is going to make me train very hard this year.

Please check my math, thanks.


11 Replies

powellpd, February 26, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Hello Scott- Thank you for posting this information. I appreciate the time you took to do the math. Letting us know the hills we will ride that last day will give all of us some idea of the training we need to do. I rode last year and found it very difficult, especially the long rollers and hills. I look forward to the first four days of the week. Again, thank you for this information. Pam


RDaryl Daryl, February 26, 2017 at 8:38 pm

GeoBike calculates difficulty by multiplying Miles times Climb.
This “total difficulty” calculation places XLV as 3rd “easiest” overall.

For a little perspective, XXV was 459 miles with total climb of 25,369 at 5th most “difficult”. Average climb per mile was 55.25 feet for the entire week that year.


jwsknk, February 27, 2017 at 8:07 am

will know more once the full route is released. I expect Decorah to be the meeting town day 6. 8-10 miles of good hills on both side of town. Rumor I have heard is we come into Lansing from the south. No idea what the meeting town will be. Harpers Ferry? If it’s on the river will a lot of teams just end there?
By day 7 you will have ridden yourself into shape for those climbs, unlike when the hit day 1 in the Loess Hills. And unlike last years, its pretty easy leading up to those last 2 days.


Gthomp0419, February 27, 2017 at 8:42 am

The first 3 days last year was a true test and then followed up by the Karras Loop on day 4. This years route seems easy on paper but hills are hills, miles are miles and heat is heat. With that said I hear my bike calling me and the gym just emailed me that tomorrow is leg day….


Brian Wallenburg, February 27, 2017 at 10:17 am

If memory serves me correct, the hills are much longer in NE Iowa. Overall it looks like a pretty decent RAGBRAI. Not only will the hills be different, but the scenery will be much different too, and quite likely the roads will be better maintained than last years route.


donhoppe, February 27, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Do not think just because it is flat that it will be easier. After 20 years in a row of doing ragbrai I can say that some of the hardest days were flat days with a 20+ mph head wind. At least with hills you get to coast when you get to the top. Do not say this will be a easy ride, we do not want to piss off the wind gods.


LawnchairMan, February 27, 2017 at 4:14 pm


I agree that we don’t want to encourage headwinds. Last year the winds were not an issue. My first Ragbrai (2007) was high headwinds the first two days. The Karras loop was the only place we had tailwinds. I’d rather have the hills than unrelenting winds.


My mind knows that Work equals Force times Distance, so I suppose Geobikes uses that in their calculations, but I don’t know how to include climb with that. My legs know that climbing more feet per mile FEELS like I am working harder.


It didn’t take much time, but you are certainly welcome.



KenH, February 28, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Meh, the average grades last year were just over 1% the first three days if you did the gravel loop. Right out of the box. And those were the hottest three days too. An average grade of 1.5% on the last day, after a week of training, through scenery that will probably take your breath away (ok, that’s not a good thing!), and for only 40 miles. You will survive. By all means train, but you will survive! And the scenery probably will make it all worthwhile. Plus there’s Beekmans near the end. Life just don’t get no better….


T. Gap Woo, March 2, 2017 at 12:32 pm

KenH: Plus there’s Beekmans near the end. Life just don’t get no better….

. . . unless there is also some Amish-made PIE to go with the ice cream!

See you along the I-O-Way in July.


Sunflower, March 3, 2017 at 11:30 am

“KenH: Plus there’s Beekmans near the end. Life just don’t get no better….

. . . unless there is also some Amish-made PIE to go with the ice cream!”

Beekman’s last day is always Friday, so none of that on the last day unfortunately!


KenH, March 3, 2017 at 11:54 am

Are you thinking of Mr Porkchop? They quit after Friday. I’ve had Beekmans on Saturday every year I’ve ridden this ride! Or is it just the bad liquor messing with my memory again?


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