I attributed the number of new riders last year to the tag lines about it being the 3rd flattest, etc and I expect more of the same this year. I know we are all supposed to Ride Right but let’s be real, we are not going to bike 8 mph behind a line of riders in single file close to the shoulder for 7 days.
I’m not certain is mathematically possible to get 20K riders through a day’s route doing that. I think some practical advice on how to occupy the entire right lane (the one that is always closed to traffic) in the book and/or newsletters and given to charters for inclusion in their guides would be valuable.
During my first RAGBRAI, someone told me that the right lane (eastbound driving lane, for example) theoretically has three biking lanes. Would it be possible for the information in this year’s tips to include what the average mph usually is moving in each of those three invisible lanes? Like far right is <13mph, middle is 13-15mph and close to the center line is 16mph+ with the available open furthest left lane reserved for passing if empty. I saw so many near crashes because two riders were doing 10mph taking up the entire cycling area and someone tried to pass on the other side of the dividing line with riders coming up fast behind.
Next, I would like hill riding explained. If you plan to ride your brakes downhill or not pedal at max momentum on the incline, move far right. If you think you might need to apply a little brake if things get crazy or you are still learning how to handle the gears and you aren’t a good climber, be in the center. Everyone else, wheeeeeeee!!! There also needs to be an explanation to new riders about recumbent bikes on hills and that they can’t jump in front of them, squeeze the brakes and expect a good outcome. Nor can they yell and scream at them when they aren’t blazing up hill. I don’t ride a recumbent (yet) but even on a road bike, the hills last year with the uninformed were exasperating at times. Nothing was worse that losing all momentum on a downhill or getting stuck behind someone going 6mph uphill near the center line. The closest I came to falling was on uphill when I couldn’t unclip and got stuck behind someone going 4mph. I can’t keep the bike upright at that speed.
This is not about telling someone how to RAGBRAI. Race it, plod it, eat what you want, sleep how you want, pack what you feel makes you happy, charter, no charter, I honestly think that is the essence of bringing diversification to a state in the middle of the country where I can leave my bike and gear leaned up against a barn and not worry that it will be there upon my return. I am not saying you should ride faster or slower. I’ve just watched this multiple years and think the newer riders could benefit from a little more education and understanding.