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What would you do different next year?

SO 2017 was my first year doing RAGBRAI and I plan on doing it again next year. There are things I would do differently next year that I did this year. Was curious if there is anything anyone would do different next year? Or something they would bring or leave behind?

– I would bring a smaller tent, I had a 4 man tent for just myself…and It was too much room not too mention the weight and size it took in my duffel bag.
– I would bring a quality sleeping pad. This year I had an inflatable mattress. Again, it was additional weight and took up a lot of room in my duffel bag.
– I would bring a sleeping bag and sweatpants/sweatshirt. I brought 2 sheets, and a light weight long sleeve shirt this year thinking it would be warmer at night and a sleeping bag would be too warm. But I actually got cold at night and wish I had brought the sleeping bag and had a heavier sweatshirt to put on.
– I would bring less clothes. I brought cycling jerseys/bibs for almost everyday and also a change of clothes for afterwards for everyday. Next year I think I might bring 2 or 3 bibs and 4 jerseys. And for afterwards I would bring 2 or 3 pairs of shorts/shirts to wear and try to find someplace to wash them midweek or use the PBV laundry service.

17 Replies

Bob Kidd, September 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm


This was also my first year. I went with a charter and will do it again if my current support group backs out (wife) :)
– I had a large tent but that wasn’t an issue with BBC.
– Way to many clothes.
– I also was cold a few nights.
– I went through more money then I thought I would but it was well spent. $50 a day on average.
– A new bike chain! I broke mine and was lucky the Air Force and a guy named Al came along to help get me going again.
Nothing else jumps out at me.


Groeny82, September 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm

This was my second, last year I said I was going to spend more time in the pass through town than I did my first year. I improved to a point but I think I can do even better on that next year. Also I want to stop at more places of interest along the route. For example, this year there was the Surf Ballroom, the hobo museum, and others that I should have gone to. Last year there was Villisca Axe Murder House and others as well. It would just be neat, most of those places aren’t something I would make a special trip to go see so I’m pretty much missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity by not going to check them out. Last year I ate at a lot of vendors so this year I tried to find as many local establishments/groups that I could. As far as luggage I think I do pretty well, 4 bibs, about 4-5 jerseys, few pairs of shorts (2 athletic, 1 casual), one pair of jeans, 4 t-shirts, one long sleeve shirt, shower sandals, good sandals and a pair of lightweight tennis shoes that pack pretty compactly. I find that the clothes you put on after the ride tend to not get very dirty or smelly so you can get by with less and also not having to wash them. I bring along a bottle of Febreeze just to freshen them up. The biggest thing I would like to do differently is the training, while I think I get “enough” training in, I would like to get more just to make it easier on myself.


Roy Trent, September 14, 2017 at 9:37 pm

My wife and I did our first Ragbrai this year also. We were able to stay with family a few nights, host housing 2 nights and only had to camp on the final night. We were ready (and thankful) for the cool weather. I doubt we will be so lucky next year. As such, as the temperature rises I tend to want to get my miles completed quickly and get out of the heat so I think I will need to spend less time in the pass thru towns next year. Also, to help stay out of the heat I think we will bring a support driver and camper to ensure cool sleeping conditions. We enjoyed our time with the host families and their other guests and will try to camp at host houses next year. Our clothing issue was easy as we had laundry facilities readily available with family. That might be a little tougher next year.
Now that we have done our first Ragbrai and know the ins and outs, our biggest change will be to recruit people to bring with us!! We think what we have learned will make for a very pleasurable trip for the new people. Counting down the days to registration.


SFC JKL 2, September 14, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Make your list of what to take (or leave) now while it’s still relatively fresh in your mind. Just because you didn’t use it this year doesn’t necessarily mean leave it at home.


“Bicycle Bill”, September 15, 2017 at 12:06 am

You’re on RAGBRAI along with 20K other people, most of whom are not the freshest daisies on the stem — so you will not be the only person who may be producing a little ‘BO’.  You do not need a ‘fresh from the laundry’ set of clothes each and every day; not to mention that there are laundromats in most of the overnight towns.  You should be able to get by with two, maybe three sets or shorts and jerseys and wash them as needed, and a couple pairs of ‘walking around’ shorts and T-shirts … and you can always buy fresh, clean T-shirts from the follow-along bike shops.


Anonymous, September 17, 2017 at 7:39 pm

THE QUALITY SLEEPING PAD PART– LAWDY JESUS! 2 RAGBRAIs ago, I just had my sleeping bag and slept with a “pillow” (clothes bunched up- LOL!). This last RAGBRAI (2017), I had a $40 sleeping pad, which was self-inflatable, or you could blow it yourself (whatever floats your boat, badum-tss), small camping pillow, Northface sleeping bag, and a fleece blanket. THE SLEEPING PART WAS AMAZING! I guess the riding part was too!


Luv 2 Ski, September 22, 2017 at 10:33 am

[quote quote=1277775]You’re on RAGBRAI along with 20K other people, most of whom are not the freshest daisies on the stem — so you will not be the only person who may be producing a little ‘BO’. You do not need a ‘fresh from the laundry’ set of clothes each and every day; not to mention that there are laundromats in most of the overnight towns. You should be able to get by with two, maybe three sets or shorts and jerseys and wash them as needed, and a couple pairs of ‘walking around’ shorts and T-shirts … and you can always buy fresh, clean T-shirts from the follow-along bike shops.


From a freshness perspective the ride has really changed. With the advent of the shower trucks, not to mention the local showers, and the tried and true cold garden hose shower, I come across way fewer people who stink. Those that do are definitely in the minority. The ride is a lot different than even the 1990’s, let alone the 70’s and 80’s.


Sean Kinsey, October 11, 2017 at 5:48 pm

This was my first ride; it was fully self supported and I was solo for the week. Met some great people every day including The Lizard Kings from Cedar Rapids who pulled me into their encampment for margaritas and mac and cheese! If I register again would look for a group to ride.

Keep doing:
– Packed electrolyte tabs and Honey Stinger energy supplements. Would bring those again.
– Yoga mat and sleeping bag were perfect.
– Solar battery charger for cell phone kept me charged all week.
– Surly Ogre x Rohloff Speedhub earns two thumbs up!

– Brought way too many clothes and would cut that back by 80%.
– Will be moving panniers from the rear tire to the front tire.


JohnHMoore, October 30, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Practice staying up later and drinking more. Need to take it all in from 6am till midnight and beyond. I was fine with the biking part. Take a few less clothes and leave the blow up couch at home. This was my 19th RAGBRAI in a roll.


Ken Reed, November 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm


The answer is always to have more fun. This last RAGBRAI was my 11th in a row and I always regret not having more fun than I thought I could have (if that makes any sense). Also, we didn’t go uptown a lot this year like we did in the past. I think we only went uptown in Algona, Charles City, and Cresco.


Bob Amlie, November 8, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Bring my new GPS to track my ride. Bring the new tent I’ve been looking at, that(hopefully) will be easier to take down in the dark @ 5 a.m.. Less clothing. Only a different pair of bike shorts, socks & jersey for each day; a polyester jogging suit if it’s cold; one set of cargo shorts & a sport shirt and ball cap. A liteweight sleeping bag & battery-powered fan. . Actually, I brought both of these this year for the first time, and it was worth it. Possibly a better cell phone. And one more: some really good sun screen, in the large economy size tube.


Mike Howe, November 9, 2017 at 9:13 am

What kind of tent are you looking at getting? I had a 4 man Kelty Trailridge 4. Its a good tent, but too big and bulky for ragbrai. I’m looking at getting a 2 man tent. Probably the Kelty Trailridge 2 or the Kelty TN2. Hoping there are some good black Friday deals on one of those 2 and a new sleeping bag…


stuckinmizzou, November 9, 2017 at 9:57 am

Last several years I had the Kelty Gunnison 3 – worked fine but I had a couple issues with the aluminum poles snapping (although Kelty does repair them for free, it’s a hassle to send them back and then wait for them to return – can take up to 6 weeks). Even with a 3 person tent, because I’m 6’4″, it can be a little snug once I put my tote and air mattress in the tent. So this year I bought a Winterial 4 Person Tent on Amazon and I love it – also has aluminum poles and I really like the big door – simple to put up, easier to get out of it, kept out any rain and the best part: it was the 1/3 of the cost of a Kelty.


Ryan Loken, December 10, 2017 at 5:59 pm

There is some great information out here! I will be doing my first one this summer. You mentioned a solar battery charger, do you have the model, make, Brand, etc.? I am looking for a solar charger but most of the ones I have found are very bulky. Debating just bringing seven mini battery banks with me fully charged so I can use one per day. But would rather do the solar option.


Kevin D., December 10, 2017 at 11:43 pm

I will invite more friends to join and bring my new gopro.


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