RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

Karras Loop

This being my first RAGBRAI.. I like the idea of doing Karras loop.. Is it a gravel loop or a paved loop?

9 Replies

mootsman, January 12, 2017 at 9:00 pm

The Karras loop is paved. There is also a 2nd “loop” day called the gravel loop.


W Fanning, January 13, 2017 at 10:55 am

Awesome.. thanks.. 2 great options to think about…


KenH, January 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm

The Karras loop is a RAGBRAI tradition of long standing and you can count on it being in every RAGBRAI. An intentional, featured, gravel loop has appeared two years in a row. A lot of us hope it is now a permanent RAGBRAI tradition but there is always the chance it is a passing fad. If it appears again this year I think that would be a giant step towards permanency but until they announce the full route we won’t really know. Both options are definitely worth your consideration!


W Fanning, January 19, 2017 at 7:36 am

How far was the Karras loop last year.. Is the loop named after someone? How far was the Gravel loop last year?..


CyclingCyclone, January 19, 2017 at 8:20 am

The Loop last year was about 33 miles. It changes every year.
Back in the old days the century was mandatory, no loop. My first RAGBRAI’s 83-84-85 we had to ride 100+. In 1996 there was an addition to the century loop to celebrate Iowas 150 birthday, and made the day 150 miles. About 1100 of us finished that loop, and it was a stellar day for a ride.
John Karras, he was one of the 2 founders of RAGBRAI along with Donald Kaul.


KenH, January 19, 2017 at 9:51 am

Most likely you will get to meet the man the Karras loop is named after if you dare to take the Karras loop. Health willing he will be there for a photo-op. The Karras loop is always as long as it needs to be to make the day’s ride about 100 miles. My longest Karras loop day so far was 112 miles including whatever riding I did at the day’s start and end towns, my shortest was last year at about 95 miles. Some folks rode around the end town last year until they broke 100, I’ve done enough centuries by now to be willing to call 95 close enough!

The intentional and featured gravel loop is a work in progress. If we have one this year it will be only the third although many RAGBRAIs past have had gravel roads on the main route. So far the gravel loops have been about 15 and about 17 miles and both have included paved roads too, about half of last year’s was paved. Both gravel loop towns so far did a very nice job, in my opinion. The first gravel loop was pancake flat and the gravel was well compressed. Last year’s was hilly and loose enough to let you know you were on gravel if you strayed from the automobile compressed tire tracks. If we are graced with a gravel loop this year it could be longer, shorter, tamer, or wilder. Stay tuned, the gravel loop may be mentioned in Saturday’s route announcement but we probably won’t know any details and may know nothing at all until the full route is released — around the first of March I believe.


W Fanning, January 19, 2017 at 10:14 am

Awesome information.. Thanks.. I was interested in doing at least one century.. I’m doing RAGBRAI to do two of my favorite things.. Bike ride & meet people…


igor, January 19, 2017 at 11:27 am

The first year I did the Karras Loop, Mr. Karras actually handed me the patch and I didn’t know who he was. Oh Well! Now that I’m smarter in the ways of RAGBRAI I usually get a photo with him if I can. Some of the reasons I like the loop are that the traffic is thinned out quite a bit so it’s a nice little break from the hustle and bustle of the main route. Also the pass thru town seems to go all out for the riders and it’s just a blast to stop there for a while. It’s also fun when I rejoin the main route and talk with people I usually ask them if they did the Karras Loop and they chuckle and go, no that’s for nuts. :)


Ken Askew, March 11, 2017 at 11:34 am

Igor: First time Mr. Karras handed me a patch, I did the same thing. Felt like a missed opportunity to at least recognize and acknowledge an icon. Heard people chattering after and tried to turn around, just to pay homage, but in a matter of minutes the line was so long we had to tuck tail and head out. Made up for it the next year. We owe him and his partners in crime a lot.


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