PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK

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

jimval, July 29, 2019 at 8:59 pm

The southern route is always harder. The mileage and climb data was the most inaccurate I have ever seen (10+) years. This was the most I have ever been concerned about the century day but even with the 120+ miles it was a great day with perfect weather. Everything else pretty much standard RAGBRAI but they need the reset the ??th easiest RAGBRAI with real numbers.

Jim

#1310422

Brian Wallenburg, July 29, 2019 at 9:08 pm

I have a dislike for the southern route. Need to have your GPS out to realize you’ve passed through half the “towns”. I wish they would keep the route in middle or northern Iowa. RV Parking was not the greatest this year either. On a good note… the weather was great!

#1310424

Dale Moller, July 29, 2019 at 9:14 pm

As a first timer (I mean virgin), I didn’t know what to expect of the roads, but agree with most that those roads were in really rough shape. I’m obviously spoiled coming from Atlanta where our roads don’t get beat up with the winter freezes. My wife and I were pleasantly surprised that neither of us flatted once during the ride.

You say fewer boomboxes, but have to say I saw more than I cared for. I was more than a little put off at the folks insisting that the entire RAGBRAI population needed to hear their music, especially songs that included the ‘N’ and ‘F’ words repeatedly. One dude had a large Igloo cooler housing a speaker that was blasting so loud he couldn’t even hear me try calling out a car back to him. Started feeling like the ‘get off my lawn’ kind of guy after a while.

Lastly, I had no problem getting ibuprofen from the first aid tent adjacent the park entrance on the century loop. Woman said she was passing them out like candy.

This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Dale Moller.

#1310426

Brian Wallenburg, July 29, 2019 at 9:20 pm

RAGBRAI is not a race. I don’t ride an e-bike but I could care less that they are out there. I found many traditional bike riders more inconsiderate than e-bike riders. You know the ones… constantly yelling “on your left” even when there’s no room to move further to the right. I average around 14-16 mph and was never passed by an e-bike. People will never know other riders struggles. If an e-bike gets someone off the couch and out riding, great! If an e-bike allows a rheumatoid arthritis patient more years of riding, great! Who are we to complain about anything different than what we are used to or know?

#1310428

Bikingaddict, July 29, 2019 at 9:49 pm

Just like every year, there were lots of positives and a few negatives. I’ll share my negatives first.

Pass-through towns without (significant) services. I get it. I really do. Providing services for 15,000+ riders takes a large commitment of time and money with no guarantee of even a minimal payback. So I get it when some of these small towns opt not to take the risk and provide no more than a spot for the roadside bike shop tent. But RAGBRAI knows which towns are not going to offer services and I think they owe it to riders to tell us if one of their listed stops isn’t going to provide food or a water-filling station. I understand the free-wheeling nature of RAGBRAI, but some of us do try to plan things out a bit ahead of time and don’t appreciate being fooled by a “stop” that is nothing more than a dot on the map.

Grossly inaccurate mileage estimates. C’mon RAGBRAI. You know the real distances. You pedalled these roads yourselves in June. Correct your early estimates and give us accurate numbers. I don’t really care if a day ends up 10 miles longer or if the week is 500 miles instead of 430. But tell me about it ahead of time instead of lying to me and then saying “gotcha” because you don’t want to have to correct your “6th shortest” or “8th flattest” designations. And don’t tell me it’s all due to where my campground is. My campground was never THAT far away from the center of RAGBRAI. People plan their start time and how much time they spend in the towns based on the mileage for the day. Give us accurate information (that you already have) so we can do so.

Road maintenance. Some of the road conditions were poor. I expect and can tolerate a fair amount of that. But when there are significant downhills that are full of unmarked cracks, potholes, and sharp differences in pavement height (on bridges or railroad tracks), you’re getting into borderline negligence. You can’t blame all of this danger on the crazies that bomb down the hills. Everyone goes fast down them because they want/need a bit of momentum to help them up the other side. I’ll admit, I take some of the hills pretty fast – but I feel like I’m also much better prepared to react to some of these road hazards than is a relatively new cyclist that just hit 30 mph for the first time. For all riders, and especially the less-experienced ones, a bit of cold patch or warning paint is a cheap investment in rider safety.

A final annoyance was the $7 beers in Council Bluffs. I wasn’t planning on drinking a lot on Day 0 to begin with – but I certainly spent a lot less on their overpriced beers than I would have if they had been a more reasonable price. And let’s not forget that they RAN OUT of TailWind (the official RAGBRAI beer) early in the day.

I know I mostly focused on my negatives in this post – but the positives FAR outweighed the negatives. Some of the high points (and I’m forgetting a ton of them) for me:

  • West Grove hospitality
  • The town of Donnellson (and their awesome DIY swimming pool and slide)
  • The teenage band (Crossroads 7) playing at the Dew Drop Inn in Libertyville
  • The Pork Tornadoes
  • The Iowa AG Oasis
  • The gravel loop and the town of McClelland
  • John Karras on the Karras Loop
  • The Iowa Craft Beer Tent stops
  • Mr. Pork Chop

I love RAGBRAI and only want to see it get better.

#1310433

T. Gap Woo, July 29, 2019 at 10:34 pm

RAGBRAI is not a race. I don’t ride an e-bike but I could care less that they are out there. I found many traditional bike riders more inconsiderate than e-bike riders. You know the ones… constantly yelling “on your left” even when there’s no room to move further to the right.

May I respectfully disagree with your “on your left” comment? Calling out “on your left” is NOT a demand that the rider being overtaken must move to the right in order to allow a straight line for the passing bike. Rather, it is a common-sense safety measure intended to warn the bike being passed that they should hold their line in order to allow adequate clearance for the passing bike.

On another note, I wholeheartedly agree with your comments on ebikes. If ebikes allow people the opportunity to ride, who may otherwise not be able to ride, then I say “Go for it.” It’s better than sitting around listening to your arteries harden.

See you along the I-O-Way next year.

#1310434

SFC JKL 2, July 29, 2019 at 11:47 pm

Fat tire bikes almost disappeared on this years route. Two wheel recumbents were also very few and far between. The bumpy roads were a real pain. I understand flooding and winters have destroyed what were perfectly fine roads a couple years ago.
Fewer pass through towns went out of their way for us. I didn’t see towns overwhelmed like some of them have been in the past. The backtrack sucked, but I understand why they did it. Roads are few and far between in that area. Montrose really blew it. Great dip site, people ready to eat and drink, and they did nothing. Wow.
Great run into Keokuk, but then it seemed really anticlimactic at the end. It was like the finish was at the top of the hill, then a three mile run to the dip sight.

#1310435

KenH, July 30, 2019 at 9:06 am

There is a disconnect about the meaning of “on your left”. It literally means what it says, I am about to pass you on your left. It is intended to be a polite gesture so that you know another rider is about to pass you. Very commonly it has come to mean GET OUT OF MY WAY!! I’ve had people SCREAM on your left at me when I am at the very left edge of the road because I am passing other riders. I am sorry that slower bicycle traffic, including me, will cause you to reduce speed once in a while but that is how it is on a ride with this density of riders.

Yes, I was driving the team SAG vehicle at times during this year. I have nothing to do with the official RAGBRAI SAG vehicle but I saw plenty of evidence of it this year, as always.

I am sorry but there are places in many towns where you can buy over the counter pain killers if you forgot them. Other people on the route may hand them out to riders like candy and they are free to do that as far as I know. Some years there has been a rider who hauled free OTC meds for riders in a trailer behind his bike. But firemen and other first responders must follow their departmental policies in such matters because they are legal requirements. Please don’t dump on them because you forgot your aspirin this morning. It was your oversight which you can easily remedy at stores in many towns. Actually, some years some counties have shut down the Medicine Man’s handouts too.

#1310448

Mark Kerber, July 30, 2019 at 12:29 pm

1. E-bikes. I went in skeptical, but it seemed to me that most users had legitimate reasons to use them (i.e., not just that they were too lazy to train). I came away thinking they were an OK alternative for people who otherwise couldn’t do the ride.
2. Southern route. We passed through a couple of the most sparsely populated and poorest counties in Iowa. Cut them some slack. Bigger towns can provide more support to the ride, but RAGBRAI makes a concerted effort to move the ride around the state–which I think is important to the long-term health of the ride and the overall goal of getting a bunch of bikers out into rural Iowa.
3. Roads. Mixed bag–some really nice new surfaces and some pretty broken up. None of them were worse than what I ride at home, at least from time to time. I thought there were more bad stretches than what I saw in 2017, which was my only prior experience.
4. Whining about not getting NSAIDs at the fire station. Really?

#1310456

jwsknk, July 30, 2019 at 1:34 pm

More “salmon” (people riding out against traffic)
More bad roads (All the spring rain may have put repairs behind or shifted priorities),
Winterset to Indianola to short (Winterset – Knoxville – Centerville maybe to even out the miles a bit)
The Punching Pandas may have been the best local group of the week (Norwalk. seemed to be more dj’s than live music)
another last day gravel loop in a town( I thought they had enough negative comments last year about that that they wouldn’t try it again)
RAGBRAI mileage ( 10% off per day?)
Maybe make the state park loop optional (If I would have looked at a state map would have avoided Geode State Park, a mess at the bottom and a car trying to go up out of there)
Last day too long (say the sigh West Point 5 and Ft Madison 5, thought FM would have made for a fine ending town after Burlington, 40-45 mile day)
and the 18-20 miles of backtracking the last day ( no other way around the Army ground?)

#1310458

Chad Frana, July 30, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Here is my question?? How do you run out of the “beer of Ragbrai” on Saturday at the Expo?? Tailwind was sold out at 2:00PM at Council Bluffs Then by Friday it seemed like they could not give the stuff away.. Just a question..

#1310459

Sunflower, July 30, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Here is my question?? How do you run out of the “beer of Ragbrai” on Saturday at the Expo?? Tailwind was sold out at 2:00PM at Council Bluffs Then by Friday it seemed like they could not give the stuff away.. Just a question..

Comments

Here’s the BJCP on “British Golden Ale”

“Well-hopped, quenching beer with an emphasis on showcasing hops. Served colder than traditional bitters, this style was originally positioned as a refreshing summer beer, but is now often brewed year-round. Although early on the beers were brewed with English hops, increasingly American citrus-flavored hops are used. Golden Ales are also called Golden Bitters, Summer Ales, or British Blonde Ales. Can be found in cask, keg, and bottle.”

The reason they couldn’t give it away is that only neckbeards want a resinous hop forward beer when they’re outside working hard. Big Grove is a California Hop-head brewery. If they had used a less resinous and more multi-dimensional hop combination they would have sold a lot of beer. But neckbeards gonna neckbeard. It was a crappy batch, the malt bill tasted like cardboard and left the hops to flounder in their one-dimension- bitter. Perhaps next year the Franklin Street Brewery will get to do the signature beer and they certainly won’t eff it up so badly.

#1310460

Alfred Del Grosso, July 30, 2019 at 2:55 pm

What is the issue with Northwest Iowa?

#1310466

Sunflower, July 30, 2019 at 3:49 pm

What is the issue with Northwest Iowa?

Its so flat. The biggest hills are highway overpasses. The towns are far more prosperous and fun but I find riding through that part of the state to be similar to driving I-80 through Nebraska during the day.

#1310473

Randall Murphy, July 30, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Here’s the BJCP on “British Golden Ale”

“Well-hopped, quenching beer with an emphasis on showcasing hops. Served colder than traditional bitters, this style was originally positioned as a refreshing summer beer, but is now often brewed year-round. Although early on the beers were brewed with English hops, increasingly American citrus-flavored hops are used. Golden Ales are also called Golden Bitters, Summer Ales, or British Blonde Ales. Can be found in cask, keg, and bottle.”

The reason they couldn’t give it away is that only neckbeards want a resinous hop forward beer when they’re outside working hard. Big Grove is a California Hop-head brewery. If they had used a less resinous and more multi-dimensional hop combination they would have sold a lot of beer. But neckbeards gonna neckbeard. It was a crappy batch, the malt bill tasted like cardboard and left the hops to flounder in their one-dimension- bitter. Perhaps next year the Franklin Street Brewery will get to do the signature beer and they certainly won’t eff it up so badly.

Thanks Sunflower, I feel like I need to get continuing education credits after reading your explanation. (I’m not trying to be sarcastic). I like my bourbon and can similarly wax poetic but I guess that I never paid close attention to beer.

#1310476

Viewing 15 replies - 31 through 45 (of 87 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Categories

Looking for RIDES

RAGBRAI XLVII – 2019

RAGBRAI XLVI – 2018

Training

RAGBRAI XLV – 2017

RAGBRAI XLIV – 2016

Gatherings & Meetings

Lost and Found

Miscellaneous

RAGBRAI XLIII – 2015

RAGBRAI XLII – 2014

RAGBRAI XLI – 2013

RAGBRAI XL – 2012

RAGBRAI XXXIX – 2011

Clubs, Teams & Charters