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Weather during RAGBRAI

What’s the weather generally like the week of RAGBRAI? Does it get cool in the mornings/nights? Florida has been unusually dry and we have been training in 95 degree, non-stop sun.

16 Replies

David, May 31, 2019 at 10:16 am

It varies. In 2012 we had evenings when the sun went down and it was still around 100. Didn’t cool down much overnight. People that had battery powered fans were happy they hauled them around.

Other mornings it feels like you might see frost. Dew & fog are very common in the morning.

Sometimes we have 105 one day then cold rain into a headwind the next. Or cold rain then the sun comes out and full on sauna.

Prepare for all the things!

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jwsknk, May 31, 2019 at 11:05 am

expect rain at least once, probably not snow. But this year? There could be hail, high wind, lightning, day or night. Yeah, temps can ranger 105- 65 for a high, 80’s to mid 50’s’s at night. So far only one day near 90, but about 3 days either side of that it barely made 50 for a high. Humidity can be all over , I expect it to be high this year, everything is so wet right now, but we have about 7 weeks to go. It could be buggy this year. unless all the little buggers have been flushed away.

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Geoff Butland, May 31, 2019 at 12:36 pm

I’m from New England with 2 RAGBRAIs under my belt. Which means I probably don’t have much to offer as far as Iowa weather advice, but a few clothing items have proven invaluable.
1. A wool pullover hat. Instant warm up, water resistant, small, light.
2. A rain shell. Won’t keep you completely dry but it will keep the wind off you which is the key to avoiding hypothermia. Also serves as a windbreaker on cool morning rides.
3. A light fleece. Great for early morning while you’re packing up, or on cool evenings in town.

In my (limited) experience your current Florida weather is only missing high humidity to match the usual Iowa Ragbrai weather.

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Nico ZZZ, May 31, 2019 at 2:35 pm

I live in Miami, and the Iowa humidity is a “dry heat” compared to the humid summers down here. People during RAGBRAI week will ask: “How you doin’ with this humidity?” I tell them I’m from Miami, so Iowa is a dry heat, but the hills of Iowa are like mountains to a Miamian, as our ONLY hill for training is the Biscayne Bay Bridge.
I will be doing my 5th RAGBRAI, but I remember my first year 2014, that had a rain that was a colddddd rain. Riding in Florida, a bit of rain is a welcome relief from the heat, as long as there isn’t that pesky lightning. So I didn’t bring any rain gear to Iowa in 2014. Uff.
The next year I brought the rain jacket, knee covers for my old joints, and a pair of full finger gloves for the rain days. World of difference. I also have a pair of riding glasses with exchangeable lenses, so I can wear the clear lenses during the rain.
I also highly recommend a battery powered fan for the tent. I usually have it on as I go to sleep, and wake later when the night has cooled and turn it off. I have an O2Cool fan that has worked since 2014 for me.

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KenH, May 31, 2019 at 3:58 pm

I doubt even someone from Miami would call the Friday-Saturday at the start of 2016 a dry heat. That was oppressively humid and hot. By Sunday when we actually had to ride it had tapered off to normal RAGBRAI hot and humid. The temperature could be in the mid 100’s and the humidity in the mid 90’s but that is not common. Normal July hot is mid 90’s at most and humidity levels are only what a Miami resident would try to claim is a dry heat while attempting to keep a straight face.

As to how cold, well if you are caught in a downpour on a cool day and the wind whips up while you are wet it will feel quite cold and will even give you hypothermia as some found out in 2014, I believe it was. A light rain jacket will help a lot more than you would expect on days like that so bring one. As to the actual low temperature, well this report from the RAGBRAI chronicles is quite “chilling”:

RAGBRAI IX
July 26-August 1, 1981
RAGBRAI IX had the distinction of having the worst weather of any year in the ride’s history. The beginning campground at Missouri Valley was damp from continuous rains, and it poured off and on as the riders went up over the Loess Hills to Mapleton on Sunday. The next day between Mapleton and Lake City the temperature dropped to the upper 40s (remember, this was July!) and riders rode the hills into a strong headwind and pouring rain. Very few made it beyond Schleswig, which was the first town of the day. Farmers and townspeople pitched in to haul riders into Lake City in cattle trucks, campers, pickup trucks, etc. The campgrounds in Lake City were under water so residents came to the rescue and put the riders up in homes and garages, and even on the newly refinished gym floor at the high school. The day later was named ‘ Soggy Monday’ and The Register marketed a patch commemorating that day. The weather then turned beautiful and stayed that way the rest of the week for the ride to Greenfield, Leon, Centerville, Keosauqua (the second smallest overnight town with just 1,000 residents) and Keokuk.

This is very unusual of course but a could of things to note. One is purely coincidental which is of note to those who are superstitious, and that is that two of the overnight towns that year are on this years list. I haven’t bothered to check the passthru towns. The other is more science based and it is that while things have turned to a warmer pattern in this part of the world lately it has been a very unsettled hot/cold/hot/cold/… spring so far. If there ever were to be another year with highs in the 40’s in July this year bids to be it!

But expect a lot of nice weather too. Bring a jacket for cool evenings and rain/mornings. Bring a small fan for hot nights. But mostly the weather will be pleasant enough, most years. You would be wise to start checking the long range forecasts for Iowa the week before the ride to get a head’s up on any weather possibilities that will make headlines in the RAGBRAI chronicles for this year! That way you can adjust your packing plans accordingly. Bringing clothes to deal with the most extreme weather every year would be unnecessary almost every year.

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Uncle Kraig, May 31, 2019 at 4:38 pm

Since you asked what is the weather generally like, I would offer the following:

1. It may be oppressively hot and humid 100+, heart attack inducing heat and humidity. So hot, you will not be able to sleep at night because the sweat rolling off of you keeps you awake.
2. It may be chilly, maybe even cold if it rains. So cold, you may actually get hypothermia, especially if it is cold, windy and rainy on the same day.
3. It may be as windy as you have ever seen and it will be calm as heck too.
4. Tornadoes and hail are not out of the question at all.
5. It may be 70’s with low humidity, perfect riding weather.
6. It will rain at some point during the week.
7. It will be dry most of the week.
8. All of the above may very well occur on the same day :)

I could go on but long story short, prepare for everything. Take a good look at the forecast a day before you leave but in reality, you are likely to experience all of the above at some point during what is soon to be the best week you have ever had. Enjoy it.

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bmyoungberg, June 1, 2019 at 3:56 pm

Just check weather apps right before for the week forecast. Should give an idea whether hotter or milder than normal. I have done last three and has rained twice in evening and twice during ride. I just ride with normal riding gear and get wet (felt refreshing and dried off quickly). It did get cool overnight last year I believe (65 or so). Forecast had said so, so had a long sleeve T-shirt to wear at night.

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mootsman, June 2, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Check the forecast the night before. If there is rain early look at your radar app before going. One year the rain was to hit early so I checked the radar about 6am. It was closing in so I left very early and managed to stay ahead of the rain while others got soaked. If you do get rained on, don’t hide from it, enjoy it instead. And if its going to be hot, leave early also to avoid as much of the heat as possible.

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John Condon, June 3, 2019 at 11:21 am

I am not a rider who cares all that much about weight, so I always have with me a full rain suit. Jacket and pants. The rain makes you cold and I’ve seen so many people suffer needlessly, so carry at least a jacket at all times. Sometimes a storm pops up unpredictably like it did in Solon a few years ago. The heat is the other burden: On a very hot and humid ragbrai in 2012 I wore a white dress shirt that I soaked in water every 5 miles, and that was just enough. I also took off (drove the van) Wednesday of that year. Marshalltown was 107 degrees at 6 PM. Huge storm blew in at 9 that evening, and the next day was so beautiful and cool.

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Kelli Libby, June 15, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Iowa weather is unpredictable. I have seen morning in the low 40’s and 3pm at 109. Plan on rain and wind. My team Lost and Found Adventures had to run 5 people to the laundromat last year after a freak rain storm soaked some of riders tents and bedding. Thank goodness for team support. Come check us out.
http://lfadventures.com/options-fees.html
Or call Cheryl she loves to answer questions. 402-689-0869

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Roy Trent, June 15, 2019 at 4:05 pm

As for rain, I just carry a light rain jacket which I have not worn in 3 years. I am usually soaked from sweat anyway but the jacket will help with wind chill if needed.
For the heat, we leave early in the morning and spend a little less time in some of the pass thru towns. I like to get in early, GET OUT OF THE SUN ASAP, get cooled off and then try to find a “cool” spot to sit and chat with people. I also like the cooling sleeves and skull caps. I soak them with water and let them evaporate the heat away. They look like they would be hot to wear but they work. Just do grab a warming sleeve by mistake.

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Anonymous, June 15, 2019 at 10:53 pm

I’m hoping for super hot temperatures!

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Gypsy Rose, June 16, 2019 at 9:38 pm

I’ve often told people that bad weather makes for the best stories. Slogging through the rain and cold on “Soggy Monday” with my 2-year-old daughter on the back of my bike (1981) is a tale I’ve often told, but for the majority of days, blue skies and sunshine prevail. I carry a lightweight rain jacket and pay close attention to forecasts, sometimes changing the timing of when I ride so that I can either get ahead of a storm or wait for one to pass.

Cheers,
~ Kevin

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KenH, June 17, 2019 at 8:43 am

Cool weather continues over near Chicago. Will this be the year without a summer? Too soon to tell with over a month to go and the route not actually passing through Chicago, or Illinois!

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bugs11, June 17, 2019 at 9:38 am

Last year I had a bike mechanic tell me “This has been the best week of weather in the 19 years I’ve been working RAGBRAI.” So I expect this year’s weather to be brutal, horribly hot and humid or terribly cold and rainy or both.

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