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mornings: what to expect?

RAGBRAI newbie here; my wife and I are going with Pork Belly Ventures, so if there’s a notable different answer from PBV peeps (I wouldn’t expect so, but well, assumptions), let me know.

If I’m reading this chart right, sunrise at RAGBRAI is right around 6am, and it starts getting light around 5:30am. I know PBV wants us out of our tents by 7am, so okay, that’s one hard datapoint. But I’m wondering about averages:
* when do most people start waking up?
* when do the roads start getting crowded with people heading out?

I’m more concerned about crowds than being the first. I’m not exactly a morning person nor a strong cyclist, so I’m not one of those “wakeup at 5am, hit the road at 6am to tack on a bonus 50 miles” types. :) But since we’re on a tandem, we can’t maneuver all that well around crowds, so I’m wondering what I should be expecting. (I’m expecting that, by mid-day, it’ll be a zoo, and I should just relax and go with it. But I’m hoping that at least the first leg won’t be crazy.)

Also, since I like my beauty sleep, well, that means I need to hit the sack early enough, so I’m trying to figure out what I should plan for.

Thanks in advance!

7 Replies

Amanda, June 28, 2017 at 11:22 am

I will say it is more crowded in the morning. At least until the first breakfast town. So the first day I would think it will be a little less crazy after Paullina. But then again, it’s the first day and there will be a lot of first time riders riding just that day. If you leave at 6, it’s more crowded on the road than it is at 7-8. But if you are with a group that wants to be on the road, make sure your stuff is packed and on the truck by 6:45 at the latest. Big groups appreciate it if everyone follows their rules.
Our group is 9 riders. It’s like herding cats some days!!!??

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jwsknk, June 28, 2017 at 1:05 pm

People will start getting up and talking normal volume way before 5:30. Expect to hear zippers and alarms as early as 4:30 or 5:00. really, it’s vacation but some people set alarms to get up way early. Day 1 is always a zoo getting out of the first town. I(f you can relax and leave after 8:00 you can get behind the biggest mass of people. with a tandem you might catch them at the first town. I usually leave around 9:00 and try to get halfway by noon. That’s about where I catch up the early crowd, hang out there and then take 6-7 hours to do the second half of the day. Getting in around 6 or 7, staying just ahead of TJ and the town closing services times.

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BillSpriggs, June 28, 2017 at 1:59 pm

David, This will be my 4th year with PBV. I’m an early riser by nature. Coffee will be available at 4:30 am. The lines for the KYBO’s will be shorter in the early hours. You will start hearing folks starting to move around 4:00 to 4:30. I usually start riding by 5:30 to 6:00 and don’t have a problem with the crowds. I stop for breakfast at the first pass through town or at Farm Boys along the route.

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Dueywife, June 28, 2017 at 2:20 pm

You will find the 6-8am timeframe to be the most crowded. It thins out as the day wears on. As you are with a charter, they will be leaving at 7am with or without your bags. I would recommend getting up and getting your gear to the truck, then taking time for breakfast in town before hitting the road. This will help the crowd to thin out before you roll out and ensure your gear gets to the next overnight town.

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David Leung, June 28, 2017 at 2:26 pm

*nod* Yeah, we’ll definitely be leaving a comfortable amount of time to get our stuff into the truck because we don’t want to be Those People. :) Knowing that alarms are going off around 4:30am (or even earlier) is super helpful!

Hmm, getting 8+ hours of sleep is going to be tricky. My wife is an expert at naps, but for me, naps tend to reset my internal clock…

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RDaryl Daryl, June 28, 2017 at 8:04 pm

I fully agree with jwsknk.
On Sunday riders are very anxious to ride, but are not yet proficient at riding in the RAGBRAI crowd. This makes it potentially the most dangerous riding portion of the entire week (next to Saturday’s monster winding downhill into Yellow River Forest).
Do your best to wait out the crowd in Orange City or Alton until at least 9 AM. The daily pack generally thins out after the first two towns. As the week progresses, you should develop a pace that makes your RAGBRAI experience the best.
As first time riders, I suggest you carefully read page 4 of your participant guide and listen to episode 22 of the justgobike.net podcast. Many will agree that there is no one correct way to experience RAGBRAI but there is definitely a wrong way (treating every day as a race to the finish). If you do it right, a few lifelong friendships will evolve over the week. Further, your luggage will still be waiting for you in the overnight town camp if you arrive at 6 PM rather than 2 PM.

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Brian Wallenburg, July 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Also an early riser, not by nature, but it allows my wife to participate in cycling/RAGBRAI. She needs to avoid sun and heat exposure due to immunotherapy and chemotherapy. She’s covered from head to toe which is comfortable riding in the winter, but not so much during RAGBRAI. We are almost always on the road by 6:00 AM if not earlier and rarely have a problem with traffic. This allows us to be off the road during the highest sun and heat of the day. Like someone else said, typically Sunday morning is the most congested.

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