RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

How fast?

I saw a speed of 45 mph mentioned in another thread and it made me curious about what kind of speeds you’re comfortable with on the downhills and specifically during Ragbrai.I live and train on the Texas coast. To say it is flat really doesn’t do it justice, but the only climbs/descents are overpasses and bridges. I’m comfortable at 35-38 mph but really don’t want to (or have the opportunity) to exceed that. My personal max happened a few years ago on an organized ride over an unfamiliar course when the bottom dropped out and I hit 46 mph. It wasn’t far into the course and I was surrounded by riders on all sides but never expected to reach that speed. I was very relieved to reach the bottom and slingshot into another climb. I’m a pretty experienced rider, and strong for my 60 years, but I darn sure don’t want to go barreling into a barrier of hay bales!

39 Replies

BillDana, March 28, 2012 at 9:26 pm

When we were riding a Rans Seavo with a fairing it was easy to go faster than 50 MPH. Now that we are on an upright I feel more comfortable in the 40’s. But I don’t let the bike go unless I can see the run-out at the bottom of the hill. We ride early so even on Ragbrai there are opportunities to let it go. A tandem in the pack is awkward… slow uphill, and holding back on the downhill. That’s why we get out early.

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Michrider !!!, March 29, 2012 at 6:43 am

I take downhills slower on RAGBRAI since I’m riding with a crowd of strangers, on strange roads!!!

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jwsknk, March 29, 2012 at 6:50 am

Like billdana, I don’t let it fly unless I can see the bottom, often a bridge down there, sometimes a road or railroad crossing. The road into Stone City, off the route this year, is a “T” intersection at the very bottom of a good sized hill, that’s the only one in 30 years where I have seen them pit out bales. There will be a few where you can get into the 30’s maybe 40’s, (maybe before Lehigh and Brushy Creek for 2 that I know, and 2 others on the century loop) dependes on the other traffic around. Watch the center cracks esp. on the downhills, easy to get trapped in a lane because sometimes that joint looks just to big to cross. And you can be pretty sure a ‘bent or tandem will by coming down faster on your left.

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giantron, March 29, 2012 at 6:59 am

My two fastest downhills of 44 and 45 were on RAGBRAI, usually the other side of notable hill climb. I’d also nearly matched that in another ride. But in all cases I had a clear clean road to the bottom. Of course the tricky part is looking way in front of you for seams, cracks, debris, etc.
Also last year soon after the 45 mph downhill I guy says, “do you know your back wheel is untrue?”. We were only a few miles out of town so I waited to get into town, then found out my rear rim was cracked in multiple spoke joint locations. I was real lucky that thing didn’t fail on that downhill. So the moral of the story is make darn sure your gear is in good shape as well!

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“Bicycle Bill”, March 29, 2012 at 7:13 am

My comfort factor for a high-speed descent is directly proportional with how many people are around me and how well I know these people. I have already hit 40-mph+ on several long descents in my home area, when I’ve got a clear road and am familiar with the descent itself. Other times, such as on RAGBRAI, I’m riding the brakes on what would normally be a full-tuck freewheeling downrun simply because I’m in traffic and don’t know when someone might veer into my path.

In all honesty, if your idea of a hill-climbing technique is to go flat out, balls-to-the-wall on the downrun with the intent of carrying as much speed and momentum as possible up the upslope, let me give you fair warning right now. That method will generally not work on RAGBRAI simply because there are just plain too many people, of all varying abilities, on the road ahead of you; and unless you are clairvoyant you have no idea what someone in front of you is going to do next. You need to realize that you have multiple gears on your bike, and learn to properly use the lower end of your cluster. That’s what they are there for.

-“BB”-

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indianafrank, March 29, 2012 at 8:31 am

From time to time on this forum people have mentioned the fastest they’ve ever gone, but they are usually talking about rides besides Ragbrai. People do hit some pretty high speeds down some steep hills on Ragbrai, but I”d be wary of going 45 mph in a crowd. A couple of years ago a rider died when he missed a curve at the bottom of a hill and crashed. Ragbrai is more about riding all day long with a bunch of other people, not setting speed records.

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eddie_the_ex_cabana_boy, March 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

Just remember………………”Faster ISN’T always better”!

:)

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Michrider !!!, March 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

IndianaFrank, just a few years back, a rider died when he struck a road grader on the side of the road. I believe he was going downhill, fast, with his head down and failed to see the big construction vehicle!!!!

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rmorr, March 29, 2012 at 11:26 am

Appreciate the responses. Like I said, my comfort zone is somewhere less than 40 mph and that’s on familiar roads and alone or with familiar riders. I have no intention of seeing that kind of speed on Ragbrai unless the conditions are perfect. I’ve started looking at maps and will be asking lots of questions about my two major concerns, the routes and the pies, because I’d rather read the responses of those who have been there than trying to memorize elevation profiles. Occasionally I drive away from the coast and find hills to break the monotony and I’m very familiar with the gearing on my bike.

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Sandaltan ., March 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm

On the downhill there is always someone faster, much faster, so leave some road space on your left.

RIDE RIGHT

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Michrider !!!, March 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

rmorr:
Appreciate the responses. Like I said, my comfort zone is somewhere less than 40 mph and that’s on familiar roads and alone or with familiar riders.I have no intention of seeing that kind of speed on Ragbrai unless the conditions are perfect. I’ve started looking at maps and will be asking lots of questions about my two major concerns, the routes and the pies, because I’d rather read the responses of those who have been there than trying to memorize elevation profiles. Occasionally I drive away from the coast and find hills to break the monotony and I’m very familiar with the gearing on my bike.

Pie? You can gain lots of experience about pies from the Forum regulars! Eat pie often!!! I still remember a piece of Butterscotch meringue from 2007! Excellent!!!! It’s difficult to find any pie that uses eggs in the recipe due to summer heat. Last year I had a delicious pecan pie!!!! If you don’t gain weight on RAGBRAI,maybe you did something wrong!!!!!

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rjjensenia, March 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm

The only time I experienced significant anxiety while bicycling was several years ago in Colorado riding down from McClure Pass. I hit a little over 60 and started thinking about what if I had a blow out or hit a rock etc. A helmet would not have been much protection! What is the fastest anyone else has ever reached on the bike?

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rmorr, March 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm

60 mph…..I hardly drive that fast. You’ve set the bar pretty high RJ! Remind me to never bike in Colorado. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

And Mich…you’ve set a pretty lofty standard for pie as well. Butterscotch meringue with 4 exclamation points(must be a Michigan thing). Not something I’d normally seek out, but if I see it, your enthusiastic recommendation is good enough for me. Probably good too for the road rash I’ll get tumbling down the big hill at crazy speeds!

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RonB, March 30, 2012 at 7:46 am

rjjensenia: What is the fastest anyone else has ever reached on the bike?

46mph for me. Was last year on GRABAAWR. Could probably have gotten one or two mph faster, but there was a curve ahead that I was not sure of, so backed off. Like Maxwell the pink pig says on the commercial….WHEEEEE! Don’t think I’d want to approach 60, for the same reasons you mention…what if!

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jwsknk, March 30, 2012 at 8:23 am

no computer so don’t know top speed, but do know other people going down the same grade were in the high 50’s. but this wasn’t in iowa, out in the mountains, maybe Penn. too, some of those were pretty steep. that was where se saw runaway truck escapes, not in the California, the Rockies or Bid Horns.

and for pies, some have to be kept cool, so there may be a secret stash of pies at some places that they can’t set out on the table.
Dang, shouldn’t be giving these secrets out.

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