RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

Reflections of first Ragbrai

Just got home from my first Ragbrai and I wanted to extend a heart felt thank you to all the people who donated their time and to the vendors who made the great food and drinks available to the tired and thirsty riders.

There were many positive and sadly a few negatives for my wife and I on the ride, but I am sorry to say the negatives stand out in my mind. There was one situation that has left me disapointed in my fellow bikers and and people in general. As semi truck was caught in Coralville going against the flow of bikes and was trying to make a right turn. Anyone who has pulled a trailer knows that you must make a wide turn to keep from riding up on the curb.  As the trucker tried to ease his way around the corner a “race team, uniformed clad Lance wanabe” spat upon the driver and was congradulated by his fellow riders. When would it be OK to spit  on another person? We were later passed by the spitter as he was in a pace line.  Imagine that!  FYI ….he did not have a wrist band.

The other situation involved the double pace line on the oiled road leading into Davenport conducted by the Balance Studio team. We are experience riders and also enjoy the beneifits of a well run line, but it has its place.  The open road on Ragbrai is not the place and a conjested narrow road is stupid and shows self minded arrogance and complete disrespect for fellow riders.  

Sorry for the downer after a fun week.  We did it and sadly we won’t be back.  

49 Replies

cyclesoc, July 31, 2011 at 8:43 am

There are going to be mean people everywhere.  The situation with the trucker is bit disturbing to say the least. That driver will now forever think any cyclist is the scum of the earth, rightfully so.  The most unfortunete part of that is, he drives a great big vehicle for a living every day on the roads that we like to ride.  This must be why the phase “the sun was in my eyes” always works.  There were certainly a lot of the cars on the route this year.  Some of them have no choice, such as a semi I saw full of little pigs.  Some of them had no place being there as I found the same cars in the towns.  They were basically personal sags driving the bike route.


spokes, July 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

I must’ve been a short distance behind you because I saw that semi trying to get through as best he could as well, but wasn’t close enough to see what you saw unfold….unfortunate that the team you saw was soooo full of themselves.  I hope by next year you do change your mind and ride again…some teams need a good example of how to behave in all situations and need folks like you to help them… I work with behavior disordered middle school students and NO it is never acceptable to spit on or at people.  EVER!!


ExBMX, July 31, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hadda blast my 1st Ragbrai! Great peeps, great eats, great looking legs.
Only thing that chaffed me (besides my seat) was the road into Moscow.
An oncoming purple van was easily going 60 mph and riding close to the center line.
I made a slow down signal (the polite kind) and was greeted w/ a double bird from the passenger seat. Was sore about it until I got into Moscow and saw that the locals had done nothing for the riders – it was traveling vendors only.
Fair enough. Yall can keep your town/tirepile the way it is. To be honest, there was one nice family letting riders sit down near the smoothies.

Maybe some will complain that it was so close to the next town, or whatever, but one thing that I saw (and loved) about the ride was locals and vendors made their own scene. Ex: Rural Water Assoc had nothing but water, but they created a buzz and it was a huge turnout.

It was one small negative to a great, tiring week.
I’m majorly hooked on this thing called Ragbrai!
-1st Post Out-


SSC1, July 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

BMX – Believe it or not – I saw the van you are talking about and I saw the signal you gave him as well as the finger.  Weird that I was there……..  You were not overly aggressive – just gave a gentle indication.  He was way out of line.

There will always be people who don’t care – nothing you can do about it.

For the most part – our experience was very, very positive.


AnnG, July 31, 2011 at 10:21 am

Cyclesoc is right.  In any large gathering there are bound to be at least a few jerks.  It would be a shame to let a few mean people spoil an event that has some lovely moments.  Some of those moments that stand out for me are that most towns have at least a few people who call out welcomes, a few aim water sprinklers at the road on hot days, and kids high five riders as they ride through town.  I also enjoy that often the people in the ending towns cheer and applaud as riders come to town.  Davenport did their part Saturday.  At that point I always think, aw shucks, I’m not curing cancer or ending world hunger.  I just rode my bike a long way, but the applause is still nice.  So I hope that you won’t judge a whole event by the worst people who participate.


pHIlo, July 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Many, many negitives, but the positives are what keeps me up.

My fav part is waving & sayin hey to the folk in each town.  Sprinklers gave me an extra shot to keep going! 

I was amazed that I could meet a family four times in a week in our traveling circus.


dberry, July 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm

let me start by saying this is not my first or last ride.  we have a single driver that goes to the next town and is ready for my wife and i when we get in town and i’m always surprised at the lack of respect for motor vehicles from bicyclists.

whenever my wife and I ride, we always obey the lights (unless there is a person there controlling traffic) and i always shake my head when bikers ride up right next to a vehicle.  if you want to be part traffic, then do just that… be part of it and not a nuisance.  This is very dangerous and wonder why, not all, but some thing that just because they are on RAGBRAI, that they are above the law when it comes to riding in town.  I was happy to see a policeman yell at a bicyclist in Grinell for riding on the wrong side of the road at an intersection.

On Friday we were driving up 12th ave. and I made a point that when approaching a 4-way stop and waiting in line behind a few vehicles, that i was far enough to the right so that no bicycles were ride up beside me.  this is just dangerous to everyone involved.  I might get some negative feedback, but driving a vehicle and having bicyclists beside me, let a lone driving in a new town, is just very dangerous. 

ok, other than a few disappointments,(Altoona – worst intersection control – in and out of town) i was very pleased with how things went this year.  We will be back.


pmac, July 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm

My first Ragbrai impressions:

1.  Iowa has some really great looking small towns and wonderful people.
2  I saw one vehicle moving way to fast, but the rest of the people in vehicles were very considerate.  If someone is an idiot, they will be whether in a car or on a bike.
3.  With the number of bikers on the road, some who seemed be pretty clueless about riding, I was surprised that there were not more wrecks.  
4.  “Right ride” seemed to be almost universally ignored.  But the only times it bothered me was when people would ride, slowly, 4 or 5 abreast and when people would not move right going up or coming down hills when there was plenty of room to do so. 
5.  Never realized I could drink so many smoothies.
6.  Ragbrai is a white bread thing.  Very very few people of color.  That is neither good or bad, but just an observation.  My guess that is the result of being in rural Iowa and cycling in general, which seems to be a pretty white thing.  
7.  I really didn’t notice people riding as bandits, although there had to be thousands.
8.  The High Trestle Bridge was very cool and well worth the extra 8 or 9 miles.
9.  The veggie pizza’s were pretty tasty and Iowa really does have some great pork and pie.. 
10.  PBV runs a great organization and does things very well, but it is very big.  As a result, it also operates as sort of an alternative Ragbrai with separate entertainment, food, showers, etc.,  all of which was good.  But if I do Ragbrai again I will try hook up with a much smaller team and camp in a yard close in for a completely different kind of experience.  
11.  The hills were very manageable, but they just kept coming the first couple of days.  I hit 44.5 going down twister hill which is as fast as I ever been on a bike.  Going up twister hill, and the hill heading out of Colfax, was a bit slower.
12.  Gotta have a tent fan, the bigger the better, if you’re camping.
13.  Casey’s was a great place to fill you bottles with ice.  The local bars were pretty good too.  My approach was to buy something wherever I was trying to get some ice.
14.  Finding regular bathroom on the route or in the overnight towns was pretty easy so long as you were willing to go a block or two off the route.
15.  Reading about Ragbrai makes it seem like it was all about alcohol.  While there was plenty to be had and plenty was consumed,  I never saw anyone that seem drunk.  Of course, I got in fairly early to beat the heat, and I didn’t spend much time in the beer gardens either.  
16.  You can never put on too much sunscreen or limp balm.
17.  Were biking sandals.
18.  Who knew there would be be so many good lookin’ girls in Iowa.
19  The paraplegic riders were far and away the most impressive to me.  Those guys were tremendous.
20.  U of I has a really nice campus.
21.  The library in Altoona was great place to take a post-ride nap.


tarmac52, July 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm

this was my 2nd year.  i won’t be back for a few reasons.  one, i just don’t think a third time riding across iowa will be anymore exciting than teh first or the 2nd.  the first was cool, this 2nd time, okay.  i like the people, i like the riding, i liked raising money for livestrong for the ’cause’, but not crazy about some of the livestrong staff…, except for tiger, the bus driver.. if they were all like him, i’d raise $10,000. 

if i do it again, it won’t be with livestrong, but i doubt i’ll do it again.  two times is enough for me… moving on to different tours… have fun y’all!


Sandaltan ., July 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm

tarmac52 said: this was my 2nd year.  i won’t be back for a few reasons.  one, i just don’t think a third time riding across iowa will be anymore exciting than teh first or the 2nd.  the first was cool, this 2nd time, okay.  i like the people, i like the riding, i liked raising money for livestrong for the ’cause’, but not crazy about some of the livestrong staff…, except for tiger, the bus driver.. if they were all like him, i’d raise $10,000. 

if i do it again, it won’t be with livestrong, but i doubt i’ll do it again.  two times is enough for me… moving on to different tours… have fun y’all!

There are three great tours in Wisconsin, give them a looky see.



t3sk3y, July 31, 2011 at 5:31 pm

From Morgan, the co-founder of Balance Cycling (who asked me to post this for her):
As the co-founder of Balance Cycling, this post dismays me. It
seems we have drastically different memories of the scenario that you’ve
painted. I, too, vividly remember rolling, two-abreast with my teammates into
the streets of Davenport. I was on the front of the line with my boyfriend and
co-founder of the club riding beside me. My heart was full of love for my
teammates and the cyclists around me as we completed this epic adventure
together. My team was respectful in calling out our position as “on the left,”
we congratulated other riders as we passed and maintained an easy pace. I am
truly sorry if we cast a negative light on anyone’s RAGBRAI experience.

Balance Cycling has been a part of RAGBRAI for many years.
Our group is composed of registered riders ages 16 to 75. We are veterans and
virgins, men and women, carbon-fiber and steel downtube shifters. We come to
celebrate our passion for cycling and our love for the cycling community.

Indeed, we have riders who love to ride fast and who
understand the intricacies of group riding and drafting. We don’t go to RAGBRAI
to race. We go to RAGBRAI to ride a ride free of cars, to live for the bike for
a week, to blaze through patrolled intersections and to push our bodies up
hills, through weather, along straights and amongst our people. However, like
every other person out there, we are also there to have a good time, be safe,
join with our friends, honor our hosts and collapse each night utterly
exhausted by the day’s events.

Again, my apologies if we seemed inappropriate. Our
intention is to represent ourselves as organized, open-hearted cyclists.
Please, allow us our ride style, too. I think that RAGBRAI has room for all of


tiki, July 31, 2011 at 5:51 pm

T3sk3y……..you sound like a politician in Iowa around this time next year……save it.

I too did RAG once, and once is enough. How much corn and pig manure can you see and smell? Should name the ride SHEEP.


sestrain, July 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm

My first RAGBRAI and it won’t be my last.  I saw the same negatives, but won’t let that stop me from coming back.  I can’t believe they charge so little for so much that they do and my wife and I don’t use most services because we stay in RV parks.  Our main complaint is handicap accessability.  Any walking over 100 feet and she needs a wheelchair.  Even with this problem, we’ll be back next year and hopefully my son will get in shape and have the time to join us.


Detree, July 31, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Some people are born A-holes, others learn to be, just like anywhere in life a third of the people on the ride are those people, having a band or not has nothing to do with it, as many are self contained and on bigger rides just passing through.

1st RAGBRAI………18 years ago….


jrwlewis, July 31, 2011 at 7:43 pm

This was my first ride too and it was great. I’ll be back but speaking of the Balance team it was not only the ride into Davenport that was offensive. Earlier in the week, I found them to be barking at people to ride right and were too aggressive passing. I though pace lines that big were frowned upon. 


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