RAGBRAI XLIX registration is now open!

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

Groeny82, March 22, 2017 at 4:54 pm

The topic is Lansing, on page 4. jwsknk has a link to a Facebook page with a picture of Karras on Mt. Hosmer.


Groeny82, March 22, 2017 at 4:59 pm

According to a comment on that picture from a Lansing resident, Lansing will hold a “Mt. Hosmer Challenge” for RAGBRAI riders and if you make it to the top you will get a free commemorative t-shirt.


W Fanning, March 22, 2017 at 5:40 pm

I love a challenge.. is Mt Hosmer tougher than Potters Hill.. but after 500 miles.. climbing any hill could be a challenge… so what we looking at.. climb for how long? 8% for 1.5 miles…


Gypsy Rose, March 22, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Try riding at the back of the pack at least one day . . .

R-Daryl Daryl,

I agree. Riding at the back of the pack is a completely different experience than riding with the early morning riders. My friends and I refer to it as riding “on the dark side.”

The vibe is much more laid back. The pace is different. The music is different. A lot more free beer stops, kickin’ back in the shade or jumping into the pond. It can be well worth the tradeoff of riding in warmer air.



Roy Trent, March 22, 2017 at 8:18 pm

According to the Facebook post referenced above, it looks like 18%, at least in some places. That will test you at the end of 500 miles. Sounds like a plan!
I have ridden Alexander Road just south of Mansfield Ohio. It is only 1/2 mile but my Garmin said parts were 23% but I’m guessing it was actually in the 17-19% range. It was actually difficult to keep the front wheel on the ground.


Bob Kidd, March 26, 2017 at 11:27 am

Thanks for the link Brian!


jwsknk, March 27, 2017 at 8:21 am

one big difference between Potters and Mt Hosmer is you don’t want to go off the right hand side of the road going up. The road is pretty much a bench cut going all the way up. A lot of straight down to the base through the woods off of that side and lots of curves, at least one really tight.


KenH, March 29, 2017 at 10:36 am

According to a recent Just Go Bike podcast there will be a patch or tee shirt for everyone who makes it to the top AND beats Harriet Hosmer’s time! In the 1850s her steamboat stopped in Lansing. With nothing else to do she challenged a crewman to a race to the top. And won. Thus the hill bears her name, not his.


Jeff Sanders, April 1, 2017 at 9:14 am

It’s been a while but if I remember right on the road through Yellow River State Park there is a spot where the river crosses the road and you have to ride through the river……anyone else remember this.


KenH, April 6, 2017 at 10:46 am

He may make his own announcement in his own thread but it looks like the Geobike data for RAGBRAI XLV has started to go up online! There may be adjustments after the pre-ride in a couple/three months time.


Joe Gavin, April 9, 2017 at 3:06 pm

If you don’t climb Mt Hosmer…your missing a very beautiful spot. Not an easy climb, but well worth it! (My home town) As far as I know…it’ll be open and part of ride for whom chooses.


KenH, April 10, 2017 at 7:14 am

My hill training started yesterday. Did a 40 mile ride with 1100 feet of climb. Yeah, I know that is nothing but that is not the whole story. I rode 20 miles north with the wind at my back and then turned around to make the 20 mile ascent of Mount Headwind. That was brutal! And a foretaste of what the wind can do to this year’s “easy” ride across Iowa….


Brian Wallenburg, April 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

I rode 14 miles with a 1000 feet of climb and 20 mph winds on a fat bike, if that’s worth anything… Hills training is all I do if I start my ride from home. But agreed, the winds can wear on a rider, more than heat or hills!


Roy Trent, April 10, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Did a short 20 mile ride yesterday after a longer, harder Sat ride.
Had a particular 5 mile section into 15-20 mph winds, had to work hard to maintain 13 mph. Cruised at 32 mph on the return trip with tail wind. I can’t imagine doing 30 to 40 miles against 20 mph winds.


Luv 2 Ski, April 11, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I agree with Sandeltan. The heat and wind can be the backbreaker. Both can last the day and then some. Hills have a start and end and you can always walk if need be. My feeling is if you train, hills should not be a problem overall.

I remember in 2014 we had a lot of heavy head winds in Northern IL in the spring and early summer. On one ride we basically headed into a 25-30 MPH wind for 35 miles. That was a real grind but I remember saying to my son it is great RAGBRAI training. That year none of the winds during RAGBRAI were as strong as what we trained in so the wind was a non factor.


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