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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

Michrider !!!, January 21, 2020 at 9:46 am

Forget about trying to stay dry, Wear what helps you keep warm! BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


Iowa Mike on a Bike McClellen, January 24, 2020 at 9:31 pm

Rain on RAGBRAI? Just Ask some veterans about Soggy Monday!… You ride and earn the patch! along with bragging rights! Its called the RAGBRAI experience! !


Gypsy Rose, January 25, 2020 at 7:02 am

[quote quote=1314603]Rain on RAGBRAI? Just Ask some veterans about Soggy Monday!… You ride and earn the patch! along with bragging rights! Its called the RAGBRAI experience! ![/quote]

I am a veteran of the infamous “Soggy Monday” (1981’s RAGBRAI IX). Most of the riders did not complete that day’s ride (pouring rain, hills, headwinds, and highs in the upper 40’s). Somewhere past the first pass-through town, my wife, my 2-year-old daughter, and I were picked up by a local with a pickup and taken to the gym in Lake City, which had been turned into a shelter for riders because the intended campground was under water.

For me and my family, the “RAGBRAI experience” was the way that the communities rallied to assist the riders who would have otherwise suffered much worse that day.

~ Kevin


Jose Medina, January 25, 2020 at 8:13 am

Those days are memorable. I am a veteran of Saggy Thursday. HALF of Ragbrai sagged that day. 100+ temp with 35+ headwind all day long. They even put out a t-shirt for that day. They were asking towns to go bring riders in their pickups. When I got in ,my tires were caked with asphalt on the sides. It is the only time on Ragbrai that on the route ,I went behind a barn to rest and I woke up with hogs all around me. You were pedalling even going downhill. I will take some rain .


Sandaltan ., January 25, 2020 at 8:04 pm

JM: I don’t remember Saggy Thursday being hot or any melting pavement. I can remember old rusty horse trailers hauling riders, me arriving the campground at 7:00 and cold showering in the cattle barn. Not a good day but a very memorable day, my longest day ever on the road. Yes … and I remember pedaling down every hill, no coasting that day.



Jose Medina, January 26, 2020 at 4:07 am

Yes , Saggy Thursday was very hot. The route had repairs done on cracks on the road . When your tires hit those areas , the tar was like soup and would splatter around , not the actual road asphalt itself. I still remember scraping my tires. I got in late that day too. One of my longest days getting in. I still have my Saggy Thursday t-shirt but it has shrunk thru the years ,if you know what I mean. Too much good Ragbrai food !


ppayne1959, January 26, 2020 at 11:59 am

As I am riding in the RAGBRAI rain (cause it likely will happen) I am always joyful that I am not riding through sleet and snow. Cept that one year it rained sideways and hailed. Then I was joyful it was not below zero.


rickpaulos, January 26, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Generally the rains blow through in 1 to 2 hours. Just sit it out and you can stay dry. Ride fast enough and you can stay in the rain all day. Check the radar app on your smart phone. That is the best way to monitor the rain. I have cheap (<$40) and expensive (>$200) rain coats. I take the light weight – stuff able – cheap ones on ragbrai. It is usually so warm, wearing a rain coat means you sweat so much in a rain jacket, you get soaked in sweat instead of rain water. Fenders are a huge bonus on wet pavement. They are especially good at keeping water spray out of your shorts. If you are tenting a good tent is much better than a high end rain coat and is about the same price. You want to stay out of the corn fields in the rain as the mud will stick to your feet. Many farmers spread manure in the fields during the winter and, well, do you want that on you?

The cold and rainy days are very rare. Soggy monday was the worst by far. Sagbrai (Ragbrai 2) to Monticello was 95 miles of rain and head wind. Those were both before global warming. We just don’t see such cold days in July in Iowa anymore.


rickpaulos, January 26, 2020 at 12:58 pm

There is a 10 year radar loop on you tube now from Weather Decoded. You can fast forward, rewind, etc to see the rain crossing Iowa during the past 10 ragbrais.


Iowa Mike on a Bike McClellen, January 26, 2020 at 6:14 pm

Kevin you got that right! The locals were great! When I got in town hardly anyone was there. Dry Space was limited So I set up my tent in the rain! “Not todays wonderful waterproof tents”! I slept in my orange sears tent on a pile of newspapers trying to keep dry! Woke up a prune next morn to ride in sunshine! The wonderful locals gave shelter for those in need!


Bluestreelguy ., January 26, 2020 at 6:47 pm

riding RAGBRAI is a lot like being a horse. you can be over here in the rain or you can be over there in the rain but either way you are in the rain. just pedal man it wont kill you.


Dusty Ayers, January 28, 2020 at 11:46 am

Count on Rain! at least one day or riding and one night of camping. The first year we all made fun of our friend who hucked a rain coat along with him all week – then Thursday morning came and the rain started. He was the only one laughing then (to his everlasting credit he bought a round of JD shots to warm us)!

I used a relatively clean garbage bag out of a park trash can and it was a life saver. Plan on bringing a nice new one from home and rubber band it under your seat, OR a small compressible rain/wind breaker. It is more the chill on cooler days that gets me – bring wind protection for your trunk whatever it is. A cheap rear fender guard that easily mounts is worth it. Just put it out on days rain is expected if nothing else. Great advice to find a friendly bar/cafe/park/church/anything and let the heavy stuff blow past if at all possible.

Make sure your tent is good for it if you don’t like rivers running through your things at 2am. I also pack my tent in a mesh laundry bag in the morning so if it’s wet it gets dry and not musty.

Overall, when it happens you’ll realize it’s not that big of a deal, and won’t be the thing you remember most about the week! Good luck!


Dueywife, January 28, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Yes, as everyone has mentioned it may/will rain. Don’t knock the sandals until you try them. I was the last holdout on my team w/o sandals. This was my first year with them and I’m never going back. There is a lot of walking in pass-through towns on ragbrai, so a recessed spd cleat vs. speedplay, etc. is easier to walk with.
I remember the rain in Waverly, one teammate packed up and rode in the downpour, the rest of us waited it out in the tents. He wished he would have stayed put. Then in 2017 we knew it was coming in Clear Lake, so we packed up early and hit the road, got about 40 miles into the day before it caught up to us. We camped out at the beer garden under the tent and watched the soggy riders go by. Last year, starting in Council Bluffs, there was no other choice than to ride in it. It wasn’t bad and eventually it cleared up. Not having soggy shoes was the best ever though ;)
I will reiterate, keep an eye on the radar, check the night before and make a contingency plan…if it’s not raining when we wake up we go, if it is we wait it out, etc. If you’re using the Ragbrai trailer, you’re at their mercy, but at least you can plan on finding a place for breakfast in town and wait it out. Ziploc bags to keep things in your pockets dry. A light rain jacket, water-resistant will do fine to keep you warm and is easy to tie around your waist.
As for camping, just make sure your rain fly doesn’t touch your netting and you should stay dry. We’ve only had one squall bad enough to soak the tent (Perry, IA), but with a shamwow towel we mopped out the tent and camped it out.


LoriG, February 6, 2020 at 9:07 pm

I tend to shy away from rain also, so will be trying to make sure I have the right jacket and try to ride in the rain when I can.
I have a question about gear…I have a couple of rain jackets, so I’m good. But I’m not sure what to do with my head. I thought I wanted a hooded jacket, but then I started to think how hard it would be to turn my head to check traffic etc.
So what do you suggest as a head covering?


Sandaltan ., February 7, 2020 at 9:39 am

I carry a couple of very small plastic bags, smaller than grocery bags, that you are given in stores such as Walgreens. Staying dry is not important but conserving body heat is very important when the temps drop below 70 degrees.



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