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Three Simple Rules…

RAGBRAI has three simple rules that the organizers ask the riders to follow: 1. Ride Right; 2. Say, “On Your Left” when passing; and 3.  No pace lines.  Seems simple enough.  Ride Right doesn’t mean, “ride right down the middle of the road.”  It means move to the right when nobody else is there, and stay there until you need to pass someone.  Pretty easy to do.  “On Your Left,” is not a challenge.  It doesn’t mean, “Get out of my way!”  It’s a polite warning to the person you are overtaking.  That person shouldn’t look back at you, then attempt to speed up.  They should thank you for being courteous.  If you are being courteous that is…  And oh yes, the pace lines.  Sure it’s fun drafting behind folks.  It looks cool, and it certainly gets you out of a headwind.  But drafting in a pace line with people who have never ridden a pace line before, with riders who may have had a little too much to drink, or are just gassed and hanging on is just plain stupid when there are crowded roads like there are on RAGBRAI.  There are also kids lining the route along with other spectators who could find themselves injured as well.  Double pace lines are bad enough, but I saw 4 abreast a couple of times this year.

So just three simple rules that far too many people are willing to ignore.  What happens when a public event gets out of control?   What happens to an event that exists primarily as a promotion to sell newspapers when the publicity turns negative?  Ask Tiger Woods what happens when publicity goes negative.  The Register does not HAVE TO put on RAGBRAI.  And only we the folks who ride on RAGBRAI can do anything about this.  Let’s not kill the goose people.
Three simple rules: RIDE RIGHT, ON YOUR LEFT, NO PACE LINES.  Small price for such a great time on your bicycle.

58 Replies

Sandaltan ., August 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Good sermon CR. 

RIDE RIGHT

#23955

CyclingRoberto, August 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm

ST, people must understand that it is a privilege to ride on RAGBRAI.  Sure we spend a boatload of cash during the week, but that will all seem worthless the minute one of those cute little kids along the route gets taken out by some drunks in a pace line.  I swear I rode an extra 50 miles this week going around all the inconsiderate numbskulls riding down the center line.  I even saw folks riding as far left, slowly, as possible.  And one person even yelled at me to slow down going uphill!  UPHILL!  This as they wobbled up the same hill, left of the yellow line with nothing between them and the right shoulder.   ARG!

#23956

Michrider !!!, August 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm

It all makes sense to me.  Unfortunately the riders who need to know will probaly never read this info!

#23957

patrick michael, August 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm

It’s funny how so many of the pace line riders are so incensed by the folks not riding right, while completely ignoring the rule about no pace lines. Whether they wish to believe it or not, RAGBRAI is not the place for pace lines, because of the inexperience of the very people they are yelling at.

#23958

CyclingRoberto, August 2, 2011 at 5:58 am

patrick michael said: It’s funny how so many of the pace line riders are so incensed by the folks not riding right, while completely ignoring the rule about no pace lines. Whether they wish to believe it or not, RAGBRAI is not the place for pace lines, because of the inexperience of the very people they are yelling at.

And the inexperience of those in the lines.

#23959

Michrider !!!, August 2, 2011 at 6:15 am

CyclingRoberto said:

patrick michael said: It’s funny how so many of the pace line riders are so incensed by the folks not riding right, while completely ignoring the rule about no pace lines. Whether they wish to believe it or not, RAGBRAI is not the place for pace lines, because of the inexperience of the very people they are yelling at.

And the inexperience of those in the lines.
It’s interesting to see riders jump onto the tail of pacelines in the hope of getting a free ride.  A little further down the road, it was sad to see one or more of those paceline riders lying on the road, waiting for the ambulance! I think I’ll continue to “Ride Right” and stay away from RAGBRAI pacelines!

#23960

KittySlayer, August 2, 2011 at 7:02 am

CyclingRoberto said: Three simple rules: RIDE RIGHT, ON YOUR LEFT, NO PACE LINES…

Well coming from the perspective of a faster, experienced rider here are my thoughts:

RIDE RIGHT STRAIGHT – The rule should really be ride straight. By riding in a straight line you are far more predictable for those who may be overtaking you. Those folks weaving back and forth trying to adhere to the letter of the rule were far more dangerous than the church social ladies rolling down the center of the road. Yes, it is correct that you should be riding right when practical but really you should be riding in the lane of bike traffic appropriate for your speed. And no matter how fast you think you are, always leave a lane to your left for someone faster to pass. Twice I had to physically use my arm to keep one of the Ride Right zig zaggers from moving into my line of travel and crashing me or my wife.

ON YOUR LEFT – really becomes unnecessary if you ride in a straight line and look before you change your line. Do you toot your horn before passing a car on the interstate? Yes, I realize we are not in cars, but on your left is really more of a courtesy thing than a necessary rule. Often times I would simply say good morning as I passed someone so they were aware I was there. When the speed difference was significant and the rider up the road looked like a moron I would shout on your left hoping they would not move into my line and also to let them know to move right if they did not want to be passed too closely (in their perception) on their left.

PACELINES – these are as much about the volume of traffic on the road as it is about speed. For me, my wife and our three friends to ride together we had a couple of choices. Ride five abreast and demand that everyone on the ride go our speed, be it slow or fast, or ride in a paceline. The paceline took up far less roadway than five abreast and allowed us to go at a speed that was comfortable for our group. The danger with pacelines is people riding beyond their ability both speed and handling wise, its not a race but that does not mean you need to go at the rate of the slowest rider on the road. The other danger of pacelines is the passive aggressive rule enforcers with mirrors that think it is their responsibility to move left in front of a paceline or faster rider to try to slow them down.

The issue with this entire discussion is that the people who really need to learn to ride correctly never will. You can preach, teach and publish all you want but for many it is all about them. Much like the whiners about Davenport that failed to look at a map when they got on their bike Saturday morning and then were surprised they could not find their way around a town they were unfamiliar with.

Safety First – RIDE RIGHT STRAIGHT

#23961

CyclingRoberto, August 2, 2011 at 8:22 am

KS, when you sponsor a ride, you can make the rules.  For now, these rules are The Register’s, and it’s their football.

#23962

spaul, August 2, 2011 at 8:55 am

People need to use common sense and be respectful of riders. That’s the key. Considering everything that goes on during Ragbrai–both on the road and off–talking about Ragbrai’s “rules” seems a bit off the mark since Ragbrai is not (as is being here suggested)  terribly clear or consistent about what its rules actually are and makes little if any effort to enforce them–even if they had the authority to enforce rules that go beyond Iowa’s  traffic laws. I see Ragbrai’s “rules” as guidelines for common sense, but there are actually times when common sense would dictate doing something different. It is not always safer to pass on the left instead of the right, for example. Circumstances will dictate and common sense should tell you what to do.

The website here says “Don’t draft” in its guidelines, but it also says “Instead of riding several abreast, go single file and let those behind you pass.” So when does “single file” become a pace line? Is this about speed, following distance, number of riders? What? How does Ragbrai define a pace line? Without clarification of this point, which Ragbrai doesn’t really offer, and which Ragbrai has no ability or authority to enforce anyway, we’re back to where we started: use common sense, be courteous, and be safe.

#23963

RoyBoy, August 2, 2011 at 8:58 am

It seemed to me that as the size of a pace lines got greater, their intelligence went down. Really large pace lines were rude, barked at people to get out of the way, rode in the left lane in no passing zones and occasionally forced oncoming vehicles to move to the shoulder and yelled at the drivers. Smaller pace lines (6-10) were more polite and better able to meld back into the right lane and then resume. I rode the white line most of the time.

#23964

jwsknk, August 2, 2011 at 9:14 am

when pace lines become pace mobs, that’s when the real trouble starts.
pace lines = single file 5-10 riders.
pace mobs= usually 2 wide at the front for the first 5-6 positions (10-12 riders usually dressed alike so there is some assumption they have done this together before) from there it becomes 3, maybe 4 wide in places with MTB, bents, and people struggling to keep up, get in, or being dropped. there may be another 10-30 riders in this group.

#23965

slo_hand, August 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

I have to agree with RoyBoy on several counts. Small lines of single or double file riders traveling slightly faster than the average speed is fine. The single file and double lines traveling at 2x speed and sometimes much greater I take issue with.

I’ve also wittnessed these lines drive oncoming traffic off the road.

If you want your pace line save it for later in the afternoon once the bike traffic has thinned out. That first leg into the first town is not the place for fast moving pace lines.

IMHO I think the experience of RAGBRAI would be enhanced for the masses if there were no large fast moving pace lines.

#23966

Satman, August 2, 2011 at 9:56 am

CR ~ Great topic.

I have a bike bell.  The sound carries better than a voice, and most seem to acknowledge it, and move to the right.  I can ‘ding’ it far back, and have time to see what the rider will do so I can react, safely.  Works great for inexperienced riders and pedestrians in the park.

(It’s also used for our weekly rides to acknowledge a babe of the  female persuasion somewhere in sight. ~ Very sexist!!)

Have you ever said ‘on your left’, just to have the rider turn to look and drift further in front of you??

#23967

KittySlayer, August 2, 2011 at 10:42 am

CyclingRoberto said: KS, when you sponsor a ride, you can make the rules.  For now, these rules are The Register’s, and it’s their football.

Rules are made for people incapable of thinking for themselves and applying commen sense and logic. I will always put my wife and my safety above blindly following a rule that does not apply to the situation at hand. A perfect example is the law for signalling a right turn:

http://www.iowadot.gov/maps//msp/pdf/bikelaws.pdf
Iowa rules of the road for bicyclist… to make a right-turn signal, extend hand and arm upward…

While this signal may be the law it is not safe. People behind you do not understand what it means, it puts your body off balance to initiate a right turn and moves your hands to far from the bars. I will apply logic an point with my right hand when making a right turn.

With regards to the RAGBRAI Rider Safety many of my comments were contained in the text and simply need to be applied when appropriate.

https://ragbrai.com/training-safety/rider-safety/

– riders let others know their intention…
– Don’t weave. Ride in a straight line
– Leave room for others to pass you on the left.
– Stay alert and use your brain when you ride.
– Instead of riding several abreast, go single file…

Finally, there are not three “rules” but ten and the three you quote are really not what you typed. To paraphrase where you plucked select terms from those sections are more along the lines of  3) communicate, 4) ride safely,  6) think,  8) be considerate.

Ride Safe – Ride Smart – RIDE RIGHT STRAIGHT

I will continue to emphasize safety over rules when riding on any ride in the following order, my wife/son’s safety, my safety, other riders safety. I would rather be upright and riding rather than laying on the ground quoting rules that did not apply in the situation.

#23968

ts, August 2, 2011 at 11:04 am

There’s a big difference between the long, usually ragged pace lines composed of disparate riders and 3 or 4 friends riding together pacing each other just for fun.  It’s impossible to get any decent sized group of cyclists together without some drafting – it’s just natural.  And as someone else mentioned, it’s safer than those same riders trying to ride abreast.

#23969

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