Hills this year?

How do the hills look this year?

Day one about 5 miles in, can anyone tell me how that is? It looks like a wall!

Any other major hills this year?

14 Replies

DenBiker, June 5, 2019 at 8:34 am

Actually looks can be a bit deceiving. Google Earth shows that the main climb to be just about 170 feet in .8 miles. That calculates to be right at a 4% grade. Within that climb I found a 1/4 mile segment at 5.5%. The last time we rode it I remember it as a hill that got your attention but was not one for any record books at all.

Just a note for anyone relying on the elevation profiles at the bottom of the route maps. After day 2 the vertical scale that the mapmakers used is changed from the first 2 days. The hills on days 3-7 are actually bigger than what the profile makes them appear to be. That said, day 7 may actually have a couple of hills more significant than this one.

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Walter Jones, June 6, 2019 at 3:01 am

I am interested in this topic because I am building a bike for Ragbrai. I have a choice of a standard 39/53 crank set or a 30/38/52. I normally ride the triple setup on a route with a few short hills with 6% grade but rarely use little ring unless the wind is really blowing. Should I use the double or cover all the bases with the triple? I was leaning towards the triple until I saw this. This is my first Ragbrai and I want to be fresh enough in the evenings to enjoy the festivities.

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KenH, June 6, 2019 at 7:42 am

The small ring on your double is almost as large as the big ring (42T) on my double! The small ring on your triple is two teeth larger than the small ring on my double. My bike is geared lower than any sensible person needs on RAGBRAI (11-42 in back) but that is because I may do some self supported touring on it when I retire. Even so I don’t think I would be happy with a 39 tooth small ring on this ride. But that is me and you are you. The year the ride finished in Lansing we climbed three or four honest to goodness cat 4 climbs. Potentially this year’s trek along the River the last day could have something like those. If you can climb a cat 4 on a 39 tooth ring then you are good to go with the double.

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Walter Jones, June 6, 2019 at 9:56 am

If you can climb a cat 4 on a 39 tooth ring then you are good to go with the double.

In my dreams I could. I’ll go with the triple Thanks for the reply

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KenH, June 6, 2019 at 10:14 am

My old bike is a triple and it is the only one I have ridden RAGBRAI with so far. This year will be the first on the new bike with its mountain double. If you really want to have a 50-something big ring and a low climbing gear then the triple is the way to go. I fully understand the reasons to love the simplicity of a double, especially now that I am riding one. For me a mountain double works just fine. When I am going fast enough to “spin out” the 42T big ring I no longer need to pedal. If you can ride as fast as you like, or nearly so on your triple’s middle ring then a mountain double might suit you too.

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Larry Klaaren, June 6, 2019 at 10:38 am

Build your bike for your regular riding during the year. On Ragbrai there are so many stops that you will be well rested. If you do any kind of riding the other 51 weeks, you will be fine. There are few good hills, but IMHO not enough that a regular rider needs a special bike for them. You may ride twenty miles without coming to a town or vendor area, but that only happened once last year. I would get that bike built so you can be used to riding it by the time Ragbrai starts.

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T. Gap Woo, June 6, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Good afternoon, Walter!

I concur with Larry’s comment about building your bike for the type of riding you’ll be doing for the other 51 non-Ragbrai weeks. The cost/benefit of building a bike specific to Ragbrai doesn’t seem justifiable IMHO. Besides, as the Sage of Rabbit Hash once said, “There’s no hill in Iowa that I can’t walk!”

If you’re as rich as Croesus, spend that excess cash that’s burning a hole in your pocket by supporting local charitable organizations’ food stands etc.

See you along the I-O-Way next year.

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Walter Jones, June 6, 2019 at 1:33 pm

I have gathered up about everything and will start on it this weekend. I built up a nearly identical one last fall. This frame is just 2 cm smaller and I like the fit better. I will ride it year around.

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Walter Jones, June 7, 2019 at 2:28 am

I’m not rich I just like to tinker with old bikes and have some parts to choose from. The bike I will be riding is 30 years old and most of the parts are from the same era. Consumables like cables & tires I source new. My “Ragbrai bike” will be in the same price range as a new bike from Walmart. Don’t worry I plan to partake of lots of what the good people of Iowa fix for us. Bring on the pie!

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SFC JKL 2, June 8, 2019 at 12:56 am

Better to have the low gear and not use it than to not have it and need it. I’m in the process of changing my drive train on my trusty steed. I’m updating my 3×8 (26 granny with a 12-28 cassette) to new 2×11 with an oval 46-30 and a 11-32 rear. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure out how to shift it in the next month.
Is it wrong that my big chain ring is worth more than my entire bike?

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Walter Jones, June 8, 2019 at 1:27 am

Better to have the low gear and not use it than to not have it and need it. I’m in the process of changing my drive train on my trusty steed. I’m updating my 3×8 (26 granny with a 12-28 cassette) to new 2×11 with an oval 46-30 and a 11-32 rear. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure out how to shift it in the next month.
Is it wrong that my big chain ring is worth more than my entire bike?

I have been thinking the same thing ever since I was invited to do Ragbrai last year but then someone said 4% grades and then a friend gave me a nice Dura-Ace standard crank set and the gears in my head started turning. I am going to stick with the triple especially after listening to the preride podcast.

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Michrider !!!, June 8, 2019 at 11:16 am

The cost/benefit of building a bike specific to Ragbrai doesn’t seem justifiable IMHO. Besides, as the Sage of Rabbit Hash once said, “There’s no hill in Iowa that I can’t walk!”

That sounds vaguely familiar, I guess be I did say it!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!

This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Michrider !!!.

This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Michrider !!!.

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@Trykeman, June 8, 2019 at 4:01 pm

I am a five time, every other year RAGBRAI veteran. All on trikes. In 2010 my first year I rode a 65lb, 3 speed trike. I trained 1800 miles and finished the ride. Yes, I walked Porter Hill and a few others, but I finished. Damn near died, but I finished. It doesn’t matter what you ride if you put in the training.

Now I ride a much more road friendly trike.

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francoisvanzyl, June 10, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Hills this year? There will be some, there always is. Wind as well.

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