RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

Report from the route: Hills

As we are riding right through my back yard this year, I thought I would give some hill info for the Friday and Saturday portion of the ride. From Cresco to Decorah, it’s mostly rolling with one nice downhill just before Decorah. I am unsure of the exact route through Decorah, but there is a possibility of a couple of horrifying uphills climbing out of there. Ossian to Postville is brand spanking new pavement, flat and smooth. There are shoulder rumbles all along that stretch. North out of Postville we really start to dig into the driftless landscape. A beautiful valley and stream boardered county W4B, and then a long climb back up to the ridge to Waukon. Saturday you will be happy you did your hill training. Beautiful ridge ride out of Waukon until the drop into Waterville. Unfortunately, we will probably be walking down the steepest portion as the typical bottleneck will start to form above town. Also a 90 degree turn at the bottom. Then we climb climb climb back up to the ridge on 76. We get a screamer down into Yellow River Forest and you owe it to yourself to spend some time there. You may have a hard time believing you are in Iowa. Amazing water and dense forest with beautiful camping. Besides, there is a hellacious climb out of there and another fine hill experience before we get to Harpers. You may think the stretch between Harpers and Lansing will be a nice flat ride along the Mississippi river. You would be wrong. Let’s just say they saved the best for last. Get your legs on folks. It’s going to be a great RAGBRAI!

36 Replies

Roy Trent, March 20, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Do you have any grade % and approx feet of climbing for any specific hills?


dalebob, March 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm

I do not have grade % or anything like that. Nothing as steep as Potters Hill but some of the hills are well over a mile long according to my odometer. Mainly wanted to get it out there that Saturday, while not a long day mileage-wise will be a day to be ready for climbing-wise.


Roy Trent, March 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Sorry, I’m from Ohio, so I don’t know what Potter’s Hill is.
The best I can tell with RideWithGPS tools there is an 8% shortly after Harper’s Ferry. Also a couple of 7% and a few short 6% hills but nothing unbearable.
I ride a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia that is 7% for 13 miles(AKA Thunder Ridge), then 10 miles down the other side, that’s fun!


Brian Wallenburg, March 20, 2017 at 5:14 pm

Don’t be fooled by the percent of grade. It’s very different when you’re riding the hills with all different levels of riders. People (20,000 of your fellow friends) swerving all over, or worse, stopping on the right, middle and left in both lanes of traffic. Not to mention all the walkers to begin with. It’s like steering through an unpredictable maze. https://ridewithgps.com/events/29500-ragbrai-2017


Sandaltan ., March 20, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Hills are nothing! Nothing. What is grueling is the heat, two three, four nights in a tent with no breeze at 85 or 90 degrees, the effect is cumulative. Next is headwinds, they don’t stop sometimes. Train for the heat, all else will fall into place.



Roy Trent, March 20, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Congestion, “idiots”, heat and wind comments are noted! Thanks.
When training, I tend to ride early mornings to avoid the heat. I
was planning to do something similar on the ride but the crowds and the towns
might force me to ride deeper into the day than I prefer. I assume congestion limits or eliminates any casual drafting to block head winds. Looks like I need to do some heat training.
Looking forward to my first RAGBRAI!


BillSpriggs, March 20, 2017 at 8:42 pm

Roy, I’m an early rider and heat has never been a problem. If you ride early you’ll be ahead of the crowd.


RDaryl Daryl, March 20, 2017 at 9:11 pm

Try riding at the back of the pack at least one day with overnight town arrival around 6PM. You may possibly choose to never return to the front of the pack. Just make sure to eat before arriving in the overnight town. Oops…….seems like we got off topic. My hill experience involves riding them when I get to them and not spending the next 124 days in worry.


jwsknk, March 21, 2017 at 8:12 am

The final day seems to bring almost everyone out at about the same time. Connection to make to get home, closing ceremony (2:00?), the route closes earlier, fewer and shorter stops. My usual ride is leave 9-10, get to the overnight 6-7. last day we usually meet about 1, dip tires at 2, meet at truck/bus at 3 to get everything unloaded and reloaded, leave at 5.
On Potters a few years ago I did have to stop, I saw 2 people tip over in front of me and people were walking up both the right and left hand sides on the road. It wasn’t easy trying to get restarted half way up.


Roy Trent, March 21, 2017 at 8:33 am

What is the route number and approx location of Potters Hill?


mclousing, March 21, 2017 at 9:48 am

This was from my ride up potters hill


and this should get you to the strava segment



mclousing, March 21, 2017 at 9:50 am

this might be better for strava segment



CyclingCyclone, March 22, 2017 at 12:08 pm

I wonder if we’ll be allowed to climb up Mt. Hosmer Park or if they’ll have it blocked off.
Back on Sunday of RAGBRAI 18 into Cherokee, the DSM Register released a list of the steepest hills in Iowa by county. The photo they used was of John Karras climbing Mt. Hosmer. I wish I still had that article or maybe the DSM Register can update it…
For fun I plotted the route on my Strava, including climbing onto Mt. Hosmer. Only 2 segments on the road currently. Hawes Rd Climb (X52)about 35 miles in. 1 mile, 6% grade, and another one on X52 Lafayette Ridge 1.2 mi, 4%.
Mt Hosmer is only 0.6 miles, 9% grade with some sections easily double digits.
46.4 miles, 2978 feet of climb-that’s with Hosmer.


Jeff Sanders, March 22, 2017 at 12:19 pm

This is also my old backyard…Love this area!!!


Brian Wallenburg, March 22, 2017 at 4:40 pm

The picture of Karras you referenced is in this forum somewhere. I don’t remember the thread though.


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