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I’m thinking about doing my first RAGBRI in 2020, but the thought of possibly riding a day (or more) in the rain doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. What happens if it rains during RAGBRI?? Just push on and ride through it? Is rain common during RAGBRI??

69 Replies

stuckinmizzou, January 7, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Push through it! Sometimes a nice shower feels great if there have been hot days preceding it.


Jose Medina, January 7, 2020 at 2:32 pm

Yes , push through. Just bring a rain type jacket , not a poncho that flaps all over the place and in your face. We have been in unbelievable rain storms also with hail. That is one sound you never forget , hail bouncing off your helmet and coming across the cornfield. Welcome to Ragbrai. After 30 years its still fun.


Joseph Schlau, January 7, 2020 at 3:36 pm

A real rain jacket that is waterproof not water resistant that is. Once the water resistant types get soaked through and start leaking cold water, they don’t give you much protection.

With a smart phone you can track the storms and time your layover in a town for awhile until the worst is past.

Don’t pass up a training day just because it’s raining. Go out and see how everything works and where improvements are needed.

I’ve added rain pants to my gear as well. If it’s already raining when I start or looks like it will be an extended rain day, the pants help a lot.

Yes you will sweat and get wet on the inside of the rain gear, but you keep out the cold water.

Most days at Ragbrai are warm enough that hypothermia is usually not an issue. I have also rode a couple of days with a steady headwind, extended rain and colder temperatures which left a number of riders shivering from the steady sapping of body heat and energy.

In those conditions, Ragbrai is not going to be able to provide sag services for hundreds of riders at a time. Best to prepare to take care of yourself as much as possible.

The rain gear I have used of late is from Showers Pass. Specific design for cycling. Works well for me all seasons including winter.


Mike Howe, January 7, 2020 at 3:59 pm

It rained a lot the first day last year and it wasnt too bad. I didnt wear any kind of rain jacket (eventhough i had one). I made the mistake of wearing a white cycling jersey though and had a nice black dirt line on the back of it by the end of day from my back tire kicking up rain, dirt, etc on it. My advice is wear a dark colored jersey if you dont wear a jacket or poncho. Also, 3 years ago i t rained and i wore a waterproof jacket and was miserable. It was like wearing a sweat box.


Jose Medina, January 7, 2020 at 4:24 pm

David , you need a waterproof jacket with a breathable flap on the back then you can control the temp with the zipper in the front. Through the years , I have also switched to a two strap riding sandal. I have seen alot of riders switching too. If it rains, your feet will dry faster later . If it is cold in the morning ,I put on cheap ankle white socks and if they get dirty , I just throw them away. Rain is not a bad thing on Ragbrai, it is amazing how many riders can fit under one tree sipping on hot chocolate.


Uncle Kraig, January 7, 2020 at 4:56 pm

It will rain when riding East on RAGBRAI…..one day?? maybe five days, you never know. It will rain riding West on Iowas Ride. One day?? maybe five days, you never know. Get some good rain riding gear, make sure your tent is good and waterproof at the seams. Pay attention to the radar and reports…stay and have an extra bloody in the morning if its raining too hard. Wait for it to slow down. Stay a bit longer and have an extra Fosters Lager in the pass thru town if its raining too hard. It will all work out. Don’t worry, relax, play it by ear and ride. You will have one of the best weeks of your life. See you in July! EDIT – Now that I think about it, you will likely not find a Fosters Lager in a pass thru town on RAGBRAI. Beer choices on RAGBRAI are not a strong suit of the ride :(


“Bicycle Bill”, January 7, 2020 at 6:43 pm

Back in the good old days when I rode, people would ask me that too.  I told them that on RAGBRAI you didn’t get rained out, you got rained on.  So the correct answer SHOULD be that if it rains, you get wet.

However, most people nowadays will hole up someplace dry and use their cellphones to call their support team, spouse/significant other, or hired lackey, which will come out onto the route with the team bus or other vehicle so these poor little creampuffs don’t get their bikes all wet and dirty.


Sandaltan ., January 7, 2020 at 7:03 pm

Beebs, you have made a point, we have become pampered cream puffs; craft beer, sherpa services, bike shops every ten miles, and on and on.



Jose Medina, January 7, 2020 at 7:14 pm

Hey Sandaltan, your picture indicates that you too has switched to a two strap riding sandal, like I said in my forum . Great tan ! Just like mine. I started Ragbrai before there were cell phones. We would go to tornado shelters when there were warnings. We would then get on our bikes and keep riding , or if we were in camp , we would just march to the nearest storm shelter. I remember my tent shredded in the middle of the night one year and I slept on a wet piece of cardboard for four days on the back of a truck , and I kept riding. Good old days ! No cream puffs here.


Sandaltan ., January 7, 2020 at 8:28 pm

JM: The first Shimano sandals were brown with two straps, I still see a pair on rare occasions. Then Shimano went to three straps which were mighty ugly and unpopular, then to a two strap not quite so ugly now a reasonable copy of their first two strap. Rain, wind and adversity like sleeping on wet cardboard make the best memories and camp fire stories.



Jose Medina, January 7, 2020 at 9:34 pm

Yes , I wore my two straps until they literally fell apart on a training ride. The three strap were terrible and they came out again with the two strap. I bought two pair. Shimanos two strap are the best for Ragbrai. Easy on and off with velcro. You will not go back to a shoe again. I have two new pair of shoes still in the box that I have not worn since I
started wearing sandals. I love to dance (that is how I met my wife on Ragbrai ) and it is nice to have the cleat recessed. You get off your bike and you feel like you are wearing a regular sandal. Great memories , we met at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. I asked her to dance and we have been together 21 years.


David Admire, January 8, 2020 at 12:28 am

OK, so it sounds like rain is almost a sure thing. One day wouldn’t be too bad….but riding through multiple downpours…..or hail? Maybe I’m a cream puff.


Jose Medina, January 8, 2020 at 2:18 am

David, rain , hail etc. is never a sure thing. Having a GREAT time ? YES !!!


Jboz, January 8, 2020 at 5:08 am

I had a rain aversion for years. I refused to train if there was even the threat of a few drops. I got lucky with my first RAGBRAI in 2012…no rain during the ride itself (but it was scorching hot, so not really lucky I guess). Rode 2014, rained hard one morning so I sagged. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t because the rain let up around noon and it was downright pleasant. The other rides came in dry and happy, and I felt like a schmuck. Rode 2019 and the rain came on the very first day. I didn’t have the right gear but my son was with me and he was only riding that one day, so I pushed through it to be with him. I was wet and cold. But you know, it wasn’t as bad as I had made it to be in my head. When thousands of others are also pushing through it, and mostly with a smile on their faces, you kind of get over it. When all was said and done, I got through it.

I still avoid training rides if it’s pouring hard (I tell myself it’s for safety reasons), but I will ride in light showers or drizzle. As others have said, rain specific gear is key. With the right gear, it’ really not a big deal. Biggest problem for me is rain on my glasses.

Oh, one more important thing…when riding in the rain, it’s easy to forget to hydrate. I guess when your body is getting soaked with water, the mental thirst indicators get suppressed. So I probably only drank a couple of bottles of water all during that ride. Bad idea. Apparently my fluids got behind the curve and I didn’t realize it. Ended up in the ER on Day 2 for dehydration.


Joseph Schlau, January 8, 2020 at 6:37 am

[quote quote=1314208]. Get some good rain riding gear, make sure your tent is good and waterproof at the seams.[/quote]

Good point. Looking back to my backpacking days, there was the concept of the 3 W’s. Water, don’t pitch your tent in a low spot or ravine where water flows. Widow makers, if camping under a tree, watch for dead or rotting branches. One of these killed a camper in 05 in Shelton during a severe storm. The third is wildlife. Normally this is for bears but in the case of Ragbrai, it could also include the roads the drunks will be walking back to camp on at 2:00 am.

If you bring your own tent, check the waterproofing with a garden hose to make sure it still stays dry. Good quality tents usually have the seams pre-sealed. Low price models, usually don’t.

Not a bad idea to know where the designated storm shelters are in the overnight towns and campgrounds. Each town publishes their own map, sometimes only available a week before Ragbrai.


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