Some final logistics questions for first RAGBRAI

I have some last minute logistic questions that hopefully someone can clarify. Seems like I’m not entirely done buying stuff for RAGBRAI:

1. How do you carry your cash and cards? I read about those lanyards that go around the neck, but I’m weary about wearing one for 80 miles under the jersey. Some big possibility of chafing.

2. Do you know if more places accept credit cards in recent years? I’m hoping to limit the amount of cash. Hopefully having under $60 on person on any given day should work.

3. I’m only bringing the two jersey sets I have. Have you guys found that you need more? Presumably even if the jersey doesn’t dry overnight, it should dry by the following morning.

4. Are the lines really that long for a bathroom and a shower? I was wondering if this depends on how fast you’re riding. Is there such thing as beating half or most of the crowd to the next town and easily using the shower/toilet without waiting much?

5. I’m sure there are others here who enjoy a relaxing shower. We do have to still fit in washing our jerseys in the shower. Is there an etiquette of how long you can take to shower? I’m going with a charter, but I read that anyone can use any shower anywhere and the charter showers aren’t limited to members only. 20-30 min would be great after a long day, but not sure if that would be inappropriate in the setting…

6. Especially those who have done charters (mine will be Brancel), have you found that electrical plugs are limited? I’m wondering if I should bring an extension cord and buy a multi-USB charger. I have battery banks, but they do take a while to charge.

Any other tips along the lines of logistics are welcome.

7 Replies

HelenP, July 17, 2021 at 3:55 pm

1. Look for a top tube bag. I got one that’s slightly bigger than my cell phone, and about 3″ deep. It perches right behind the stem for my handlebar — with one velcro strap around that, and two more at right angles around the top tube. Phone & wallet, etc., can ride in there, where I can always see it. When parked, I can even take the bag off as a small handheld purse, or add a lanyard.

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Kevin Brunk, July 17, 2021 at 6:41 pm

#1. Ditto Helen’s advice but alternatively… I always carry a small wallet (separate from my normal wallet) while riding. It has the cash I think I’ll need for the day, 1 credit card and a photo copy of my driver’s license and insurance card. I put that wallet in a small plastic bag (to protect it from sweat) and keep it in one of my jersey pockets. I’ve never been concerned about nor had it happen that someone pick-pocketed it from me. I also have a Road ID to which I’ve uploaded all my medical information (www.roadid.com).

#2. While many places accept credit cards (all “businesses” do) – especially at the Expo – the churches selling pies and desserts and the people selling water or food from their yards probably WON’T be accepting credit cards. I usually bring a couple of $20, some $5 and $10 in ones…maybe $100 to start the day. If I’m at a store, I try to use my credit card.

#3. This year, because I have so many, I’m bringing a different Jersey for every day but only 3 sets of bibs. I try to was the bibs as best I can each day and hope that in 2 days they’re dry enough to wear again (you definitely want your shorts/bibs to be DRY). You should be OK with 2 jerseys though, your thinking is sound.

#4. Kybo (port-a-potty) lines during the day can be long (especially the ones you first encounter in a town…I usually hunt for the next set!). Don’t know about the showers because I travel with a team and they have their own portable shower (Yay!) so rarely is there more than a 2 person wait.

#5 I think 20-30 minutes in the shower would be HIGHLY inappropriate. This is roughing it, not home! lol Not just because you want to be polite to all those waiting, but also to conserve water. My process is: strip in the shower, turn the water on and get me and everything wet, turn water off, soap up my kit (Jersey/shorts-bib) and then me, spend a couple of minutes hand washing your kit, turn on shower to rinse – first I thoroughly rinse my kit, which usually accomplishes rinsing me, too! Turn water off, squeeze the water out of kit, get dried and exit. This might take me all of 5 minutes. DON’T FORGET SOME SHOWER SHOES! All of this makes me relish the last long home/hotel shower BEFORE RAGBRAI and the first one AFTER RAGBRAI! Seriously, the people attending the showers can help you gauge how long you can/should take.

#6. I have done PBV when they supported Big BAM and they have a really nice charging setup. The team I ride with has a similar cubby-hole charging station setup. So, I can only speak to those experiences. I would suspect that you if you have a lot of different things to charge, you might have to rotate them through your charging “slot”. Again, it’s a matter of being polite to all the others who probably want to charge.

You didn’t ask, but lower your expectations about cell service during RAGBRAI. Cell towers aren’t really meant to handle 20K-30K people trying to use their mobiles all at once in the same location! Wi-Fi can be pretty sketchy so posting to Facebook can be an exercise in frustration. You’ll be less frustrated if you think of telling your story and posting your pix AFTER RAGBRAI.

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Chris, July 17, 2021 at 7:06 pm

Hey Sibelus:
Kevin did a bang-up job; I can only echo most of what he said.

1) Same: we carry small wallets that have just the essentials – license, credit cards, cash – in our jersey pockets for easy access. Usually about 100 cash in smaller bills between us. Like Kevin said, all of the businesses, but very few small vendors, take credit cards. To that end, if you use AmEx, make sure you have a Visa or MasterCard, too. We’ve found that more places take plastic over the years, but we still go though 300-400 or so bucks in cash over the week.

4) Your assumption is correct: it really depends on when you get to the showers / kybo’s. If you’re in the 6am crowd, there’s rarely a line for the bathroom and maybe a 5 minute wait for the shower. If you’re in the 10am crowd……yes, the lines get long, depending on the town. Worst-case with the bathroom line is about 5-7 minutes in most places. The showers, however….. we’ve waited over an hour in some of the smaller towns that were relying on the shower trucks only. Again, really depends on when you get there.

5) Yes, 20-30 minutes in the shower would be well outside of the accepted norms. 5 minute showers are about it. Some of the shower trucks (I think it was Thundershowers) have a timer for 4 minutes of water, and that’s that.

6) Charging is a funny thing. Brancel does bring a decent supply of outlets. The problem that tends to happen if you bring a multi-charger or your own power strip is that if/when you walk away, other people don’t know it’s yours, and you’re left with the dilemma of leaving it there all night while their stuff charges, or unplugging their stuff. With the charter, it’s usually not a big deal to charge things. Even barring that (for those who read this and don’t ride with a charter), it sometimes takes a little bit of creativity, but you can keep stuff charged. Many of the churches/VFW’s have a whole room set up with power strips now, so you can charge while you eat.

See you next week!
-Chris

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Sibelius, July 17, 2021 at 10:29 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever taken a 5min shower. Seems like I have to practice this almost like I was practicing triathlon transitions, haha. Well, at least now I know. And yes, will be bringing sandals for shower and walking around.
No social media, since I don’t use it. The charging is mostly for technology/action cam/battery banks which ends up being 3-5 devices. Also bringing a small laptop/tablet for reading, since I figure there will be a lot of downtime and this could be a good time to do that. I know it can be loud sometimes, hence the earplugs.

That’s an interesting point, Chris. I had actually read about labeling all your technology, which I’m going to do to avoid confusion. One great tip I read was to bring a big zip lock, label it, and put all the charging devices inside it. No one can confuse it then.

Also, interesting idea about charging at churches while perhaps taking a meal break. That means carrying at least one charger on the bike (unless the meal is in the overnight town).

I do plan to start at 6am. But realistically, it could be a little later until I’m fully ready to hit the road. Don’t really like riding in afternoon sun, plus it could be beautiful to see the sunrise as we’re riding east.

For water, do you guys stop by stores to buy bottles on the route or does RAGBRAI have water refill stations on the route?

Also, do you find that you get more and more beat up as the days of riding take a toll? I want to do the optional Karras loop, but at 111 miles and into Thursday, I wonder how doable it is within a reasonable time.

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garywilk, July 18, 2021 at 6:24 am

As far as charging along the way. I see some people try, but the limited number of plugs and the large number of people, I would not plan on that. Most of the time you do not get a chance to rest next to an outlet anywhere. I think I remember a few cell charging tents in a few towns sponsored by google. That may be an option. Having it fully charge with the charter should work. You may want to turn off blue tooth and wifi to save the battery. If left on, the phone will be searching which eats the battery.

There is always lots of free water from milling stations. Bring two water bottles. The only thing here is make sure you taste it and only put it in one water bottle. There always seems like one or two towns along the way have water that tastes like sewerage. Also every town has girl scouts or some other group selling water bottles for a buck. These are usually cold and a great option to risking the taste of city water. Mainly just leave the town with two full water bottles.
The biggest concern, as the week goes on, is the part of it around the bike seat. Generally we try to ride a bit harder between towns to limit the time in the saddle and enjoy the towns a bit more or any stops along the way. If your bottom feels OK, most people get in better shape as the week goes on. The first day will is longer this year and may be a good gage. You can also add about 5 miles each day for getting to and from the start and riding around a bit in towns. Overall I can not stress to ride you bike like you normally do to save your bottom. The good thing about the century loop is that that option is right at the end of the ride. You can basically do the entire day and then make the decision at the end to do another 30 miles.

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LawnchairMan, July 18, 2021 at 11:52 am

Sibelius
Brancel usually has coffee, muffins, bananas, and water available at 5 AM. I used to get water then, but I found my start quicker if I fill my Camelbak the night before. That will last me about 50 miles, so on longer rides I find kids or firehouses selling bottled water. Often that 50 miles is extended by stopping at kids’ lemonade stands. My preferred start time is 0530 and I usually average between 17 and 19 mph, so I sometimes get to the overnight town before my gear is unloaded. I do beat the lines that way, and find room on the recharging racks.
I always bring four kits. I take advantage of Brancel’s laundry service, so I use my fourth kit while the rest are getting washed. I don’t trust Iowa weather to dry my clothes. Most of the rain I experienced there was at night. Oh, I finally realized it quickened my start by having each kit in a separate ziplock bag. Instead of searching my luggage by flashlight for individual items, my jersey, shorts, socks, and do-rag were all together for one quick grab.
It sounds like this is your first Ragbrai. It will be exciting, and you will get all the support you need from the Brancels and other charter members. Have fun!

This reply was modified 3 months ago by LawnchairMan.

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