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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

ehlent, July 31, 2011 at 7:52 pm

My observations this year are much like the other 5 years I have done.

1. People don’t follow ride right much.   There is some sense of it maybe for the first 6 days, but the last day there is no such thing.

2. The last day is always a zoo or whatever you want to call it.   But, it always is a race to get done it seems.   The roads are more congested because everyone wants to get done, and being a Saturday you get a lot of people jumping on for the day.   This year seemed to be worse than usual.

3.  This has been said before, but if you ride really slow, Move right.

4. I also saw a few bikers not following the traffic laws.   This is just plain dangerous and stupid.   Follow the rules. of the road.    

5.  The heat and humidity was bad this year.  

6.  As a general rule, I think all the towns did a pretty good job of preparing for RAGBRAI.   However,  I didn’t care much for Altoona mostly because everything was pretty spread out.   This is something I don’t like about the larger towns.    Coralville was IMO one of the better overnight towns.


“Bicycle Bill”, July 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

tiki said: …… I too did RAG once, and once is enough…….

Good.  One less bandit.



kenimus, July 31, 2011 at 11:43 pm

this is my first year so this is the way i see it

1. waaaay harder then ppl made it out to be. nobody said it would be easy but wow were there some hills and with bad knees i feel accomplished to say i did not walk”not that there is any thing wrong with that it was just a personal goal to say i rode the state i was born in.

2. way more diverse then i expected in a good way. as long as you are respectful ppl were ok with my pace and i theirs. not just on the road but on the curb as well.

3. farts. stilll!

4. if you have gears use them. i saw a lot of ppl that did not respect the machines they were riding. i hope nobody saw my sweet bunny hop doing 20 off a crack.it was not intentional but felt pretty cool.

5. respect for all the fixy’s cruisers and so forth….. minus the guy in the loin cloth. i did not need to see your balls and nobody’s children do either.

6. caseys beer cooler.

7. i dont care if you pay even though i did but were a helmet.

8. shots of maple syrup make your arm hairs stand up

9. wipes are a god send weather your cleaning your bike but or boogies.

10. on your left.


tiki, August 1, 2011 at 1:12 am

Excuse you , Mr Bicycle Bill or “BB”………….I paid fair and square for my one trip on RAG, didn’t use any services, but I did pay. In fact I did the Kerras route and didn’t get my patch that year (2009). Not that I want to be buried with it but just saying.

And by the way BB, you sure are opinionated for a non-rider. What do you do all day long, play being a customer service rep (CRP) for $11 hr and just grind your teeth all day dealing with a-holes?


KittySlayer, August 1, 2011 at 6:29 am

jrwlewis said: 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. 

I encountered a number of Balanced Team groups throughout the week. Sometimes being passed by them and occassionally passing them. Every time I saw their team on the road they were smooth, safe and predictable.

Just because someone is going faster than you does not make them dangerous. While being “barked” at may feel offensive you might consider that it was being done for safety. If I am riding down the far left of the road and see somene up the road that is either weaving, not riding right when possible or talking to the person beside them rather than aiming their bike in a straight line I will “bark” at them too. I would prefer to be heard for my safety and yours.

Ride Right Straight


Michrider !!!, August 1, 2011 at 6:40 am

I have no problem with groups riding faster on the left.  I saw way too many riders traveling slowly down the middle of the road.  When you do that, expect to be passed left and right!   I talk loud (on ur left, etc.) but don’t consider it barking, LOL!!!


Zinger, August 1, 2011 at 6:45 am

I will admit to barking “on your left” once when a guy came onto the road from a vendor that was on the right side and proceeded to weave back and forth across the WHOLE road while waiting for his GF to mount up. That may have been before my first screwdriver of the day, so I might have been a little grumpy. The rest of the time I politely said “on your left hon!”


Michrider !!!, August 1, 2011 at 6:49 am

Zinger said: I will admit to barking “on your left” once when a guy came onto the road from a vendor that was on the right side and proceeded to weave back and forth across the WHOLE road while waiting for his GF to mount up. That may have been before my first screwdriver of the day, so I might have been a little grumpy. The rest of the time I politely said “on your left hon!”

Zinger, I looked for you this year but sadly we did not meet up. Hope you had a great ride! You could bark at me any time, LOL!!!!


KittySlayer, August 1, 2011 at 7:03 am

Through the eyes of a virgin…

We had a couple of virgins in our little group. The first was my age, an experienced cyclist who has done many weeklong tours but was on her first RAGBRAI. She was in RAG mode/mood as soon as the first umbrella drink was served on the bus across the state and she had a blast. I cannot remember a time when I did not see a smile on her face.

The other virgin was a teenager with limited cycling experience riding with her boyfriend. While she was not smiling the whole time she always had that glow of life that young people seem to posess. Spent  all of Tuesday riding with her and the boyfriend on her very first century. Having done more than my share of centuries I forgot what an accomplishment it is for a first timer. She did great and finished that day with a smile and weary legs in  a very respectable time.

I also had a wonderful time traversing the state with my friends, making new friends along the way and chatting with the locals. While having been away a few years Pork Belly once again made the time off the bike pleasant.


ExBMX, August 1, 2011 at 8:25 am

Some Happy Memories from my 1st Ragbrai, in no particular order
1.) Seeing buses grow in number on the ride across I-80 into Glenwood.
2.) Exchanging a free Chami Butter bottle for the Polar ones before they wised up.
3.) Free schwag in general @ Expos
4.) Getting the last black rasberry pie just outside Luther. It really was the best of the week.
5.) Laughing off the water boil order in Lidderdale(?) *sluurrrpp!
6.) Discovering sun-sleeves
7.) 20 mph hi-fives to lined up  kids
8.) Getting spoiled w/ sprinklers @ Davenport
9.) The serenity on the Karras for my 1st ever century
10.) Dana on the Karras loop – free schtuff!
11.) Discovering the joys of a midday mentholated butt butter application
12.) Realizing that cornfields aren’t dutchovens like the port-o-pots
13.) Looping back onto the route after Karras and hanging with a much more colorful crowd :) I may have to re-think my entire Ragbrai strategy. I’ve always liked hanging out with the pirates.
14.) Duckweed at the Miss’sip Dipsite
15.) Kalona ice cream bars on the rollers into C-Ville
16.) Striking up conversations w/ strangers and finding crazy 1-in-a-million connections
17.) Coming up w/ ideas for helmet accessories for next year…
18.) Loving that cell phones were not working
19.) Seeing the look of awe in little kids eyes as this eruption of colorful spandex swarmed into town
20.) Genuinely telling folks that their town did a wonderful job of hosting. Or that their pie was seriously the best one along the route.


SFC JKL 2, August 1, 2011 at 9:12 am

tiki-  The definition of pathetic has to be someone who did a ride two years ago, never wants to do it again, but is still hanging out on their board.  Flame away since you obviously have no life.


SSC1, August 1, 2011 at 9:55 am

Tiki wrote:

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.

As I said in an earlier post, it is clear that Tiki is in immature, non-adult person with an inability to view other viewpoints other than his own in a positive way.  He appears to attack everyone who disagrees with his viewpoint – personally.  I for one would appreciate it if he would either find a more appropriate communicative style, or, if he can’t be more adult-like, simply refrain from posting at all.  His attacks do nothing to persuade or convince – they just stir up trouble.


gingerjet, August 1, 2011 at 10:23 am

Having passed and been passed by teams running pace lines I found them all to be predictable and professional.  Which is what you want.

What I didn’t find professional are single riders weaving in and out of other cyclists, riding all over the road, or bikers lecturing other bikers.  I’m reminded of an incident going up a hill where a cyclist came up on our left in the other lane complaining that he shouldn’t have to pass in the left lane going up a hill.  Then proceeded to pass in the left lane on a hill.  He came across as arrogant and a complete idiot.

What ragbrai needs to do is get rid of the “ride right” motto.  Its a idiotic phrase and anyone who yells it out comes across as arrogant.  The goal is to ride predictably and straight.  Not “right”.


indianafrank, August 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

BB, SFC, SSC!. Contrary to what you may have been taught when you were younger, sometimes, if you ignore it, it will go away.


JJDUBS, August 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Here are the ten things that stick out about my first Ragbrai:

1. The Heat.  Went to cool off at a pool.  The water temp read > 95 degrees.
2. Free beer! We went to a coffee house in Altoona to escape the heat and some local gentleman opened up his tab to everyone there for coffee, beer, and treats.  Thanks guy!
3. Hitting 40 mph before Twister Hill with riding the brakes.
4. Grinding up Twister Hill.
5. Talking to a little girl at the free gatoraide and water stand before Coralville about how refreshing butt wipes are if they are put in the freezer.
6. How most Bandits dont wear helmets.
7. A member of my group realizing (freaking out) she forgot the wrist bands and car passes en route to the starting town.  I told her that they had to ride Bandit, but luckily the Ragbrai staff was cool and got them hooked up with replacements within a few minutes.
8. Seeing people walk the first hill in the starting town. 
9. Iowa’s small town Craft Beer Scene.
10. Getting a flat 15 miles into the first day.


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