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Observations about the ride

What are some things that you noticed this year that are different from last year (and years prior)?

My observations:
1. Way less fat tire bikes
2. I haven’t seen any bike boomboxes (excluding mine) 😉
3. More people staying toward the right

Now, I literally just thought of the reason for #3…I now leave at 6:00 AM (as opposed to 9:00 last year). Interpretation: older folks and/or more experienced riders start out earlier?

87 Replies

jpclark7, July 23, 2019 at 7:31 pm

Bump.

#1310113

Cory Rood, July 25, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Day 4 and 5 pass through ‘towns’ were a joke. It was basically the same as going 20-25 miles between towns.

#1310211

dalebob, July 28, 2019 at 8:32 am

Definitely an uptick in electric assist bikes this year. Mostly older riders with knee issues (at least the ones I spoke with) but also several younger e-bikers.

#1310304

murphymp, July 28, 2019 at 9:24 am

Many days the pass through towns were really weak. West Point and a couple others were the exceptions. The fact that southern Iowa is far less populated makes it hard to have towns that can do it right. I will be interested to hear what others thought of the crowds. It was my 10th Ragbrai over the last 12 years and I felt that the totals were down quite a bit. Just wonder if others found that to be true.

#1310307

Jboz, July 28, 2019 at 10:50 am

I agree with the other posters regarding the weak passthru towns in southeastern Iowa. Some were nothing more than wide spots along the road. Personally, I found a day five to be the worst day. Not a difficult ride per se, just tedious. Bad pass through towns, and the road conditions were so bad I thought my gold fillings might come loose. I couldn’t wait for that day to be over.

#1310309

Kent Sewright, July 28, 2019 at 7:11 pm

Agree with Jboz about day 5. For day 6 and 7, I’m not sure what the organizers were thinking when retracing 20 miles of the ride to and then from Burlington. So many riders were complaining about it on Saturday. West Point did a great job.

#1310324

Rene Borrero, July 28, 2019 at 7:55 pm

I keep hearing about Iowa people are very nice. well that was not the case with me. I just kept encountering the wrong people all week long. the only people I really enjoyed the company was the Amish people. great personality, humble, and kind, and of course great pies, ice cream, honey and banana bread. sometime you roll into town and people sitting outside of their home looked at you like you are from another planet. checking all your gadgets you have in your bike and not saying a word to you. I found few people that were nice to me. and so were not even prepare. I stop a small town I cannot remember which one, but I need some ibuprofen and I asked the fire department if they have any and they all look each other and said no sorry. I have to pedal to next ambulance that I came across.

#1310326

jelly0317, July 28, 2019 at 8:51 pm

Next time, try Casey’s: they may be more likely to have ibuprofen than a fire department.

#1310327

Patrick Hatting, July 28, 2019 at 9:55 pm

I have been riding RAGBRAI since 2005. This is the first year I encountered electric assist bikes. All three riders were erratic and/or riding too fast. I empathize with those who need to walk up the hills. The electric bikes need to be banned or complemented with “cheater” by everyone on the ride. See you next year!

#1310328

turtlePacker, July 28, 2019 at 10:01 pm

I don’t know if this was a RAGBRAI thing or an overnight town thing, but this was a constant source of irritation for our support drivers (small team of 4, we trade off riding/driving): campgrounds on all the town maps are just marked as campgrounds, but when you go to find a campsite you find out that it’s all reserved for some charter or other. I have no objection to charters or to reserving space for them, but given that the space must have been reserved well in advance and the maps weren’t posted until quite late, why not mark which campgrounds are strictly for charters and which are “open?” Would have saved us a lot of driving around.

#1310329

T. Gap Woo, July 28, 2019 at 11:03 pm

I have been riding RAGBRAI since 2005. This is the first year I encountered electric assist bikes. All three riders were erratic and/or riding too fast. I empathize with those who need to walk up the hills.

While I had the misfortune of not riding Ragbrai this year, I did ride the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburg PA to Cumberland MD earlier this summer. The weather was seasonable — temps in the mid-80’s and humidity around 70%. The rate of climb ranged from about 1.5% to 2.5% on this old railroad bed, with the “harder” portion coming between Ohiopyle and the Eastern Continental Divide.

While relaxing in Frostburg MD (downhill from the Divide), I encountered a rider on an ebike equipped with front and rear disc brakes.

I asked her how she liked the ebike, how it handled, was it worth the price etc. She loved the assist going up the “hard climb” (!) and used it often. She hated it on the long downhill into Frostburg. While she didn’t need the assist going downhill and didn’t use it, she complained that the bike fishtailed and skidded on the packed gravel surface (the worst trail she said she ever rode, but one of the better rail trails I’ve ridden). She said she almost went over the handlebars several times before recovering her balance. She was so unnerved by the experience that she ended the ride in Frostburg while her group went on to Cumberland, sending their support driver back to get her.

Two takeaways from this: (1) if she needed assistance on an easy grade, she was out of shape (assuming no underlying medical issues; I certainly wasn’t going to be rude and pry into the issue); and (2) she didn’t know how to properly use the brakes, squeezing one brake lever tighter than the other (assuming that the brakes were properly adjusted).

I won’t beat a dead horse and opine on banning ebikes from Ragbrai. That poor nag suffered enough in this forum several months ago. RIP, you poor ‘ol creature!

See you along the I-O-Way in 2020.

#1310330

Mike Howe, July 28, 2019 at 11:26 pm

This was my 3rd Ragbrai. Somethings I noticed

1. Seemed like there was a lot more traffic and cars on the route this year.
2. The mileage/distance for some of the days seemed way off (I understand that it can be different depending on where you stay from one overnight town to the next)
3. Seemed to be more *****y roads this year. Especially on the some of the longer downhills.

With that being said, I had a great time and enjoyed the week. Until next year!

#1310332

Sunflower, July 29, 2019 at 12:05 am

@MikeHowe

1) Traffic in the southern routes is always worse. Fewer large towns= less robust road network.

2) Has always been this way, this year was a bit worse than usual though.

3) See #1.

The good part is that we didn’t have to spend 3 days in Northwest Iowa. I would give my left nut to never have to ride through that area on RAGBRAI again.

#1310333

mrbill3818, July 29, 2019 at 12:17 am

I agree, West Point did a good job with their bike tower (or whatever it was called), I feel as though the Amish appreciated us, but for the rest of Southern Iowans, they didn’t like us. Many had beautiful homes, money was of no issue to them, and they couldn’t wait for us to leave town fast enough.

#1310335

mrbill3818, July 29, 2019 at 12:34 am

I feel the Amish, small businesses and the churches really appreciated us because they could really use the money. However, the rest of the people (which is a majority of people in southern Iowa) didn’t appreciate us. I saw a lot of expensive homes, and I am sure money isn’t an issue with these people, so I can understand why they can’t wait for people to leave town ASAP. I have done two southern routes and a central route. I will never do a southern route again. The ending town of Leon a couple of years ago was a disaster to say the least.

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