The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Recumbent Riders

I just purchased a Catrike Expedition have started training. This will of course be my first RAGBRAI, that is if I get selected. Do you see many recumbent riders? Looking forward to the ride and all of the excitement that comes with it!! Any information you have for a ” Virgin” would be greatly appreciated.

33 Replies

jawmail, January 25, 2019 at 4:47 pm

O my gosh there are tons of recumbent bikers on Ragbrai, more than you’ll ever see. You will get “selected” almost everyone does. I do not know anyone who has not made it through the lottery process. Read up on the ride, I have done this 6 times and love it more every year. Get in shape and enjoy the ride:) It’s never easy but the memories will stay with you for years.

#1298520

Jboz, January 25, 2019 at 7:14 pm

That Catrike is a nice machine. There is regular poster here Michrider who has one I think. Maybe he will weigh in too. You will see that there will be recumbents and especially trikes everywhere and there is kind of a kinship among the trike riders. You will quickly find some riding buddies, even if only for a few miles.

There are tons of general “need to know” items on various Ragbrai forum threads. Read through them all. But recumbent specific tips include:

Sunscreen – important for everyone, but the recumbent position exposes your face to more direct sunlight than riders get on regular bikes.

If you have 20″ front wheels, it might be a good idea to pack a spare tube. For the full-size back wheel there will be plenty of supply at every passthrough town and fellow riders, but those 20’s might be more scarce.

Be mindful of the rumble strips…trikes have a wider stance with the two wheels up front, so don’t wait till the last minute to move both wheels left and away from the rumbles.

The recumbent position doesn’t lend itself well to looking back to check for oncoming riders before changing your line. Install both a left and a right mirror, and use them religiously.

Trikes can be very fast on downhills and you will tend to be flying on the left, but you might be among the slowest turtles going back up. Make sure that as soon as you loose the momentum at the start of the uphill, you get all the way over to the right.

Anticipate your shifts on uphills. Better to shift a little too early than too late.

Ride through the pass-through towns. No need to dismount.

Although technically you don’t need chamois padded riding shorts, the snugness is good for preventing drag.

You definitely need to be clipped in at all times when pedaling. Otherwise, you are susceptible to the dreaded “leg suck” which can be horrific and potentially disastrous.

Peruse Bentrideronline.com for recumbent specific advice. There is a forum section there, and as we get closer to July you will see lots of discussion about Ragbrai. Lots of Ragbrai veterans there. Good folks.

Enjoy. You are going to have a great time!

#1298521

Chris, January 25, 2019 at 7:55 pm

JBoz nailed it. Welcome to the zoo! Be prepared for the most fun you’ll have with your clothes on 🙂

I wanted to add something I think is kind of funny: “Trikes can be very fast on downhills and you will tend to be flying on the left….” On the Karras Loop in 2012 (Karras Loop: an extra section of riding one day during the week that makes the day a full Century ride), there was a monster hill. It was our first year on the tandem, another bike that’s slow going up and a rocket coming down.

We were bombing down this hill, going about as fast as I would dare, the brakes sort of getting stinky hot, and were passed like we were standing still by some guy riding a yellow Catlike rocketship. When we got to the bottom, we caught back up with him, and I asked him how fast he went back there. His answer:

“I’m not sure. I know I flew with all three wheels off the ground for at least a little while…..”

I think he scared himself just a little bit.

See you in July,
-Chris

#1298522

dalebob, January 26, 2019 at 8:03 am

Greg, welcome to the small but mighty sub-group of Recumbent Ragbrai. Hard to improve on the list from Jboz, but I would add that it is a real good idea to get in some practice riding in a group. The bigger the better. There is nothing in your post about your other riding experience so forgive me if this is old news to you. Even tho folks warned me before my first ride in 2012, I was still stunned on the first day by the crush of riders jostling their way out of town, both lanes tight and no room for error. Be ready to hear “on your left” all day every day.
The best part for me is stopping in the pass through towns, finding a local, and asking them about their town and what they like about it. What should I see before I leave? That has never failed to reveal a treasure I would have missed otherwise. Take your time. Enjoy the ride.
Dalebob

#1298531

Sandaltan ., January 26, 2019 at 9:07 am

Past RAGBRAI rider surveys put the number of recumbent riders at 3.5 percent.

RIDE RIGHT

#1298535

Dizzy, January 26, 2019 at 11:02 am

Greg,
So using Sandaltan’s retrieved data and assuming there are 10K riders, we’re talking approx. 350 recumbents. Stretch all 10K riders, of which 350 are recumbents, across a 60 mile route, you’d have
6 or so recumbents per mile. Not a lot but not rare either. You’ll be in good company.
Best of luck and welcome to the ride. D

#1298541

Greg Andrea, January 26, 2019 at 11:25 am

Thank you guys for all of the feedback to my question. To answer your question, I do not have any experience riding in large groups. I am currently starting my training regiment and plan on taking this ride nice and slow. I will be meeting my brother in law who also rides a recumbent, he is the one who sparked my interest in the recumbent bike. He will however be the one who wants to ride fast and get to the overnight town probably as fast as he can. Again, my goal is to ride slow and steady and not kill myself:-} Thanks again, and looking forward to this adventure and hopefully many more to come!!

Greg

#1298545

Carl Hoover, January 26, 2019 at 2:54 pm

I’m a virgin and planning on riding a Catrike 700. Any teams of recumbent riders?

#1298553

LawnchairMan, January 26, 2019 at 6:07 pm

A lot of good advice above.

I have heard that regular walking shorts can funnel flying insects into a place you’d rather not have them. I ride a two wheel recumbent and use Kucharic Lycra bike shorts. They come without chamois, but with an extra modesty panel instead. They give me the aerodynamic advantage without the unwanted padding. I think Kucharic also offers a service of removing pads if you have bike shorts with team logos. Check them out.

This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by  LawnchairMan.

#1298566

Evan Guyer, January 27, 2019 at 11:26 am

I did the last 2 days last year for my first ragbrai. Rode a terratrike traveler with 20” wheels, but I’ve upgraded to 24” wheels. The ride was great last year, just make sure you have a super low gear for the steep hills. Yes, I was passed by every bike, just stay to the right and accept it, but, I was pedaling as some bikers had to walk their bikes up. And, get a wrap around visor from DaBrim. That is perfect for recumbents. I got up to 37mph on a long downhill, and the visor held on!

#1298651

Gallagher, January 27, 2019 at 12:05 pm

I rode my recumbent on 2 RAGBRAIs and loved it! I had USA and Germany flags (I’m of German descent) on the back, with the latter being a conversation starter. The uphills were slow, but a great chance to look around! The only reason I stopped taking my recumbent is my charter started charging an arm and a leg to haul it due to its odd size!

#1298660

Jason Stoller, January 27, 2019 at 10:29 pm

I have ridden all my Ragbrai’s on Recumbent Trikes. The first was on a Hase Delta Trike and the rest were on a fully Suspended HP Velotechnik FS 26 Scorpion Trike. Make sure you get your training in. Also make sure you set your Trike up to have a good hydration system because you will find out that it will be very important for you. Clipless Pedals and decent Biking shoes are also important so you can avoid leg suck and hot foot problems.

Jason

#1298723

Ragbrai Nation, January 28, 2019 at 7:47 am

You’ll see, and be accompanied by, virtually anything and everything that can be herded down a highway on wheel(s) via man and lady power! Long (skate) boards, inline skates, etc. The entire route has been run ON FOOT by several ppl. Oh, and a few conventional bicycles should be out there, I believe!

#1298746

Carl Hoover, January 28, 2019 at 3:44 pm

I am a virgin. I am coming from Miami. Maybe flying into Omaha? Any ideas on how to get my trike to and from the ride? Thanks

#1298795

LawnchairMan, January 29, 2019 at 8:18 pm

Several charters offer airport pick up services. A search for Ragbrai charters should get you the info you need.

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