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

Luv 2 Ski, August 5, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Obviously what seems like big hills to some are not to others and depending on where you live, or lived, and how you train makes a difference. With that said I felt this year was moderately hilly, not difficult, but definitely not a flat route. The hills were not the kind that you can roll over because of speed going in. All week long I was gearing down on climbs. My comment to my group was that from day one to day seven we were climbing each and every day pretty much the whole ride. Nothing crazy hard but just constant. Nothing as difficult as the hills at the end of 2017 in Northeast Iowa though.

All in all I thought it was a great ride with more interesting terrain than the checkerboard flat routes of Northwest Iowa.

I will agree with an above comment in that the winds played a role in how difficult the ride seemed. There were many days of either head wind, or head/crosswind and that added to the difficulty. If I recall there were only two or three sections of tail wind all week. Day 7 would have been a totally different day with no wind.

Even though it is the topic in another tread I do not feel the roads were that bad. My personal feeling is that when you feel the roads are bad slow down and then they do not seem as bad. In 2018 there was one day that the road was bad for many miles, constant cross cracks that jar you every few seconds. No way to get around those. I did not experience anything like that this year. There were sections here and there that required attention but road conditions were never a real topic with our group.


marcolaurenzo, August 5, 2019 at 2:00 pm

7th Ragbrai, and I have enjoyed every year I have ridden it as every year brings new & varied experiences and stories. Maybe I am an exception, but I enjoyed the run thru Geode. I might have been there earlier than most as I could take any line I wanted on the winding roads thru the park, and enjoyed the view of the lake and their busting a geode to show us the prize inside, but it was a refreshing change of scenery to me. I look forward to my next Ragbrai and the ability to tailor my ride to another round of new experiences.


Larry Klaaren, August 5, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Tim, do you think it is possible that you got the food poisoning at that place in Indianola where we talked? I had the same, it developed on the way to Centerville, so Indianola would be a logical place for the source.


Tim TenClay, August 5, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Hey Larry!

No… I was recovering from it that evening! I am 99.9% sure it was a church stand I ate at earlier that day – I should have known better – they had great signage, but were further off route than I normally go and I knew it wasn’t good as soon as I was done eating. I was the ONLY one there (anytime you’re the only one at a place on Ragbrai, that’s a bad sign, huh?!)

Lesson learned.


Luv 2 Ski, August 5, 2019 at 2:14 pm


1. Less Fat Bikes, not surprised about that.
2. More Ebikes, I am all good with that and hope to never need one.
3. Many days seemed less crowded except for Tuesday when it seemed like all of Des Moines came out for the day.
4. Fewer Pacelines.
5. More subdued pass through towns. Nothing bad but at times seemed to be less going on that usual.
6. The Geode State park was total unprepared for what was coming. I was there by noon and they were out of resources at that time with many still to come. Not a big deal for me because I always have food and fuel for those kinds of situations. Just glad I could get water since I heard they even ran out of that later in the day. It would not have been as much of an issue if the distance prior was shorter but with close to 20 miles since the stop before, and the hills, I can see why people were upset.


Larry Klaaren, August 5, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Thanks Tim.


Niles, August 5, 2019 at 8:01 pm

George, I felt the same about pace lines and the less crowd except the third day. I talked to my teammates a couple of times about it while riding.


Denton Kernodle, August 6, 2019 at 10:26 am

RAGBRAI was great angina this year, thanks to all who did the organizational work.


LawnchairMan, August 25, 2019 at 9:51 pm

I think you misread some of my text about the highway patrol. I said they were standing there letting ME make sure I was safe. I expect them to watch traffic and warn me of cars or signal me to proceed. Officers I saw were more concerned about setting up their sound system.
And I WAS there during open route times. I may have started before 6, but took time at a couple of stops and wasn’t all that fast. It was on highway 16 coming from Houghton that we crossed the 218 maybe about 9 am. Isn’t that during open route time? At that time there were other riders, but no police.


Rick Claymore, September 11, 2019 at 8:20 pm

This was my first RAGBRAI, and I was overwhelmed by the hospitality, friendliness, humor and all around good vibe throughout. I met lovely people, saw beautiful things and, for a week, left “real life” behind.
There were challenges, but…fuck it!


Tran Quynh, September 11, 2019 at 11:40 pm

Agree with Jboz about day 5. For day 6 and 7


nicegirl7777, September 14, 2019 at 11:19 am

Hey David, that’s me!!
Brendaa from the Bronx


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