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

mrbill3818, July 29, 2019 at 12:52 am

I thought the meeting towns and even the overnight towns to be disappointments this year. None of them really went out of their way to welcome cyclists with cycling garb. I do realize southern Iowa doesn’t have as high of a population as the northern part of Iowa. However, with that being said, a few years ago, Shenandoah, (which is in southern Iowa), did a great job with by giving people seeds and making people feel welcomed.
Moving on, Centerville’s Monopoly theme was a joke…they had Place Boardwalk instead of Boardwalk Place painted on the street corner. Centerville did a great job of hyping their Monopoly theme up, but in the end, it was a huge disappointment.

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Mike Howe, July 29, 2019 at 2:55 am

Leaving Indianola there was a resident yelling at the riders “welcome to indianola !! now leave!! F**K you guys!!” I found it funny.

I wonder if its going to be tradition on the last day to not go through downtown on one of the pass through towns and instead walk through a gravel area where the vendors, food booths etc are set up. Same thing happened last year on the last day and happened this year.

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Cory Rood, July 29, 2019 at 5:33 am

Leaving Indianola there was a resident yelling at the riders “welcome to indianola !! now leave!! F**K you guys!!” I found it funny.

I wonder if its going to be tradition on the last day to not go through downtown on one of the pass through towns and instead walk through a gravel area where the vendors, food booths etc are set up. Same thing happened last year on the last day and happened this year.

Was this in Donnelson? We bypassed downtown by stopping at the Casey’s for lunch and never saw or went through a gravel section.

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Geoff Butland, July 29, 2019 at 6:20 am

I loved the gravel loop. Big climbs and downhills to match. The folks that passed me on a tandem deserve a medal for bravery.
The roads were pretty rough in spots, but nobody promised a velodrome experience.
Howell’s farm was a highlight for me. The snow globe, melon cannon, bubble bath ride, and the goat ladder were unforgettable.
The town of Cumming has a great sense of humor.
We decided the map distance estimates were in “RAGBRAI miles” which meant they were always wrong and always optimistic 😁.

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Cory Rood, July 29, 2019 at 6:30 am

I loved the gravel loop. Big climbs and downhills to match. The folks that passed me on a tandem deserve a medal for bravery.
The roads were pretty rough in spots, but nobody promised a velodrome experience.
Howell’s farm was a highlight for me. The snow globe, melon cannon, bubble bath ride, and the goat ladder were unforgettable.
The town of Cumming has a great sense of humor.
We decided the map distance estimates were in “RAGBRAI miles” which meant they were always wrong and always optimistic 😁.

Were they wearing Red, White and Blue kits on a Green bike?

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Kurt Hand, July 29, 2019 at 7:48 am

Awesome reply!! Sometimes we get treated poorly because we act poorly. We are inconveniencing people just so we can ride our bikes across the state. They have no obligation to supply our meds.

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KenH, July 29, 2019 at 10:11 am

I had a great time and found plenty of Iowans who seemed delighted to have us. Especially in Keokuk where we have been so long in coming back. I had one who expressed his anger at our presence, so inarticulately that I could not understand what he said, and that is it. A few years ago the Cubs won the World Series. On the celebration day in Chicago the commuter trains were jam packed with several times the normal number of riders which greatly inconvenienced me and forced me to get off with my folding bike a couple of stops early. So, I understand the inconvenience that we cause Iowans. But like the vast majority of them I was more than willing to deal with that for the joy surrounding the event. Don’t let the haters spoil your ride, treat them with more kindness than they treat you and perhaps next time they will mellow out and enjoy the spectacle.

The gravel loop was great although those 10%+ grades killed me!

The Ag Oasis at the Howell farm was pure RAGBRAI!

I noticed more ebikes but is that because we discussed them for so long or because there were more? So far however, they continue to not be a problem for the ride in my opinion. That may well change in the future but not this year. I was eating lunch in a cafe in Keokuk on Saturday because I had to drive SAG that day and two women were asking a lot of questions about the ride. They were obviously thinking about giving it a try. Myself and another rider were doing all we could to prime the pump of their enthusiasm and encourage them to ride a day or two next year. When nothing else worked I even suggested that the one who was sure she could not handle the hills give an ebike a try. Anything that gets people on bikes and riding RAGBRAI is a good thing….

Sorry that the FPD did not give you any pain killers but that is really your responsibility and it is more than likely that their departmental policy prevents them from handing out meds. Especially meds so easily obtained at Hy-Vee, Caseys, etc. If your life had been in danger I am confident they would have responded with everything at their disposal to save it. They are firemen after all.

I probably talked with more local Iowans than ever this year and the thing that struck me was that they all seemed genuinely happy to have us come through their part of the state. Even the policemen who had to stand in the hot sun for hours to direct traffic. The ride is an annual example of our national motto, out of many one. We are not all the same, we do not all believe the same things or support the same causes. It is remarkable what we can accomplish and what great fun we can have when we put our differences aside and cooperate to do a good thing!

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Sunflower, July 29, 2019 at 10:24 am

I thought it was pretty much the usual RAGBRAI. The southern route has a whole different vibe from the rest of Iowa but I don’t think its bad. The countryside is so much more interesting to ride through than the truly flat parts of the state.

I saw people sitting on porches, waving and smiling, just like they always do.

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Brady Bisgard, July 29, 2019 at 10:30 am

Thought it was a great week. A few comments.

1. Day 5 the roads were really really bad. Almost an unacceptable level.
2. SE Iowa is barren and some of the towns are obviously on hard times. It is good to give them attention but there wasn’t much of any excitement on pass through towns in that part.
3. Lots more e-bikes and cross bikes (I saw about 30000 Trek Checkpoints). I don’t get bothered by the e bikes what so ever though.
4. I didn’t love the retracing 20 miles of Day 6 on Day 7 but I get why they did it.
5. There was definitely more traffic on days 5-7 but I didn’t think it was terrible.

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bugs11, July 29, 2019 at 11:50 am

All in all it was a good week, weather wasn’t really an issue. Some overnight towns were better than others. I really liked West Point, so much so I may make the drive to their Sweet Corn festival. Talked to a local in the Biergarten there and they made it sound like the Sweet Corn festival is a fun time. Also, stopped at Fat Jimmy’s BBQ outside of Montrose on the last day. The Burnt Ends and sides were some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had. Talked to a Texan who got the brisket and he said it was very, very good also; “Lot of smoke in the meat” as he put it. Wish that place was closer to where I live.

My biggest complaint would be the un-mowed hay field, including thistles, for a campsite in Council Bluffs, which turned to sticky mud when it rained.

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Rusty Ebert, July 29, 2019 at 3:01 pm

Here are photos in the Van Buren County Register facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Van-Buren-County-Register-132492796817996/

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Rene Borrero, July 29, 2019 at 7:24 pm

Hey KenH. I had my pills in my bag and I forgot to bring a couple with me. they should had ibuprofen in there, period. and where the heck I am going to find a Hy-vee store in mid route?
you said, you were driving the SAG van. what van. I saw plenty people waiting to be rescue. and in the whole week I only saw this van twice. this was my first ragbrai. and it was wonderful, I did enjoyed most of it. and I learned a lot for the next year. and do not worry, I already put the ibuprofen pills on my bike so I won’t forgot.

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BarryTantlinger, July 29, 2019 at 7:50 pm

Rene,

Pretty sure Ken meant he was driving SAG for his team or group and not RAGBRAI. Lots of people do it that way, where team members take turns driving.

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Carl Anderson, July 29, 2019 at 8:19 pm

My biggest observation was how poor of shape the county roads were. They could have put a cold patch on some of the holes. I would like to see less corporate vendors follow Ragbrai, put them in the unicorperateday towns that have nothing. Let the local business have main spots.
Also note that there are 2 types of cyclist on ragbrai, those who want to be worshipped and think they own the town for a day and those of us that just are on our best behavior and enjoying chatting with people and pick up after ourselves. Other then not having enough training miles in it was a great ride. But the roads in southern iowa need to be fixed before the next southern route.

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jimval, July 29, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Medicine man – 25 year veteran vendor of RAGBRAI has free ibuprofen for the asking.

Just fyi,

Jim

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