Registration for RAGBRAI XLVIII is now open!
Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 35 total)
You will be spending a week in the saddle, so Bring the bike that is most comfortable.
Like you, I have both road and gravel bikes (actually more of a combo gravel/endurance). I rode my Ridley Damocles on my first RAGBRAI because at the time, it was my only bike. Things went well, so well in fact that I added the Karass loop to my itinerary.
Last year, I rode my Lynskey. It’s technically an Urbanskey, which is virtually identical to the Cooper CX. Since I built the bike, I set it up as an all-rounder. The Lynskey is more comfortable over long distances than is the Ridley, partly due to its geometry, partly due to the Ti frame and partly because of the wider, lower pressure wheel/tire setup. I did both the Karass and gravel loops with the Lynskey.
My bias is obviously toward comfort – RAGBRAI is a ride, not a race. Bottom line though is that almost any bike can be a good ride for RAGBRAI, but you’re likely to have a better time if you and your bike are in harmony for the week.
Congrats and welcome to RAGBRAI. I lost my RAGBRAI virgin status (I’m sure someone will fill you in on this unique element) a couple of years ago but had many of the same questions as you before my first ride.
As Ashley indicates, the AF Cycling Team are ubiquitous at RAGBRAI and much appreciated by all riders. I’m an Army vet myself, so always swap some stories with the (mostly) younger AF brethren I’m riding alongside.
As far as camping, your RABRAI entry fee allows you to stay in the general campgrounds (aka, camping with the masses) and the daily ferrying of your gear on the Register semis. The 50 lb limit is for your gear in total, including tent. Mostly because of this limitation, I’ve always used a charter.
There are quite a few charter services ranging from pretty basic and inexpensive to rather expensive glamping-level (setting up a tent for you, picking up your bags each day, gourmet meals, shower trailers, a/c rooms, etc) services. Nearly all of the charter services at all levels of service get good reviews. I’ve only used one: Riverbend Bicycle Club (aka Argo) and give them an unqualified thumbs up.
RBBC charges only $190 for their basic week-long support. They always have large shade tents set up, with plenty of chairs and cold beverages at the end of each day. All of the campsites have been great, most with decent shade, within easy walking distance to toilets (Kybo’s in RAGBRAI-speak) and showers. They also have a charging station, tire pumps, basic bike tools and coffee. The RBBC group is usually pretty small, less than 100, so no problems in finding a spot to pitch your tent.
RBBC, like most charters, allows two bags limited to 50 lbs each (a couple have a 30 lb per bag limit.) It’s actually not hard to keep your total, including tent, to 50 lbs, but it’s hard (and annoying) to put everything in one bag. Having two bags is a godsend if (more like when) it rains. Just think of how much it must such to pack up a wet tent, fly and footprint in the same bag with your dry clothes – which is what you have to do for the Register semi (technically, your tent can be bungeed to your bag, but this seems to me to be a recipe for disater). Much better IMO to have your clothes stay dry in their own separate waterproof bag and deal with a wet tent on its own. As I mentioned, there are a lot of charters to choose from, and I’m sure one of them will work for you.
As far as food, some charters like Pork Belly, have their own catering. That’s not much of a plus as there are plenty of food options. I often opt for church suppers, and always seek out the church ladies offering their homemade pies along the route. Also not to be missed is Mr Pork Chop. Definitely not to be missed, though only vaguely food-related, are the the Iowa Craft Brewers Assoc beer tents – two set up along each day’s route. I really look forward to what for me is mandatory stop for good craft beer twice each day.
Hope this helps, but feel free to PM me if you’d like more info. By the way, I spend a couple of weeks in Utah every winter – best skiing in North America! See you in July and ride safe.
Let me put the question another way: Is a charter with a Des Moines pickup the only option – there are no independent shuttle services from DSM to Council Bluffs (and return to DSM from Keokuk?)
I’m convinced that the most comfortable saddles for either sex are leather suspension type. I use a Selle Anatomica X and find it to be by far the most comfortable out of the many I’ve had over over the years. Second would be Brooks. Brooks also offers a non-leather alternative, the Cambium, that is pretty comfy but not quite at the Selle Anatomica X level.
While Selle Anatomica also makes women’s saddles, Rivet may be a better choice. The design and construction are very similar – not surprising given that Rivet was started by the former partner (♀) of the founder of Selle Anatomica.
If cost is no barrier, you could consider Bethoud. No personal experience with them but they get raves from riders.
As Geoff said, the various charter services offer shuttle buses from the end town to the start, as long as you arrive in time for their early Saturday departure I’ve used Riverbend Bicycle Club /Argo for the past two years. I also used their week long support for camping and daily luggage & gear transport. I recommend them highly but from what I can see, nearly all of the charters get good reviews, so you probably can’t go wrong with any of them.
RAGBRAI is really a series of fairly short rides of 20 or so miles. Like it or not (and I like this feature of RAGBRAI), you are almost certainly going to have to walk you bike through most of the pass-through towns. This is often a welcome break, and nearly always a pleasant one. I also make it a point to stop at each Iowa Craft Brewing tent and have a local cold one in the shade. Again, another pleasant rest stop.
The usual advice to get about 1,000 miles in before RAGBRAI is, in my limited experience, pretty sound and one of the keys to having a good time. Don’t sweat the hills.
SPD pedals and cycling sandals. The recessed cleats don’t impede the hiking you will be doing at nearly every town and the sandals are cool (both literally and figuratively). Sandals are great in the rain and when it’s sunny, you get that distinctive sandal-tan on your lower extremities. I actually bring both shoes and sandals so I can have covered feet on the gravel loop or if it’s cold.
First timer: I’m a relative newbie (this will be my third RAGBRAI) but I’ve always used a charter. What drove my decision initially was the one bag, 50 lb limit for the Register truck. You can easily keep to 50 pounds total but I found it hard to get everything (tent, sleeping bag, cycling gear, clothes, etc) in one bag. Most charters allow two bags, making things much easier.
As czysk says, the charter groups and campgrounds are much smaller than you’ll find with the RAGBRAI masses. This makes it easier to find your gear at the end of the day, and to find a place to pitch your tent. Most charters offer shade tents and chairs, water, sports drinks morning coffee, a place to dry your gear, charging stations, etc, another plus from my perspective.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to charters. Some, like PBV, offer tents (which they set up for you), pick-up of your gear, meals and on-site shower facilities. Others, like the charters run by local clubs, have more basic offerings. Of course, there is a large difference in cost depending on your choice of service.
I’ve used Riverbend Bicycle Club’s charter service (a local IA cycling club) each of the past two years. They are great to deal with and have everything I need. I’m sure this is the case for many of the other charters as well but I’m only familiar with RBC. One other thing to keep in mind, is that you are likely to need a shuttle to the start town (or from the end town). The charters offer this service as well.
I can safely predict that you’ll have fun and meet lots of new & interesting folks whether you camp and travel with the masses or use a charter.
There are two parts to your question: One regarding the inflammation and the other about your seat. It looks like you’ve gotten some good advice regarding the first, so I’ll just comment on the second.
My recommendation is to at least try a suspension-type saddle. One response mentioned the Brooks B17. It’s a heavy but very comfortable saddle and one I’ve used extensively. The drawback is that it requires a significant amount of breaking in. With RAGBRAI only a bit over two weeks away, you’d barely have the time needed but since your condition precludes riding – well, you get the point.
The Anatomica X is similar in comfort to the Brooks, maybe even better. I’ve been riding one for two years now and for me, it is the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever been in. The manufacturer says that it does not need any breaking in but I can tell you from experience, that’s not quite true. Break-in for the Anatomica is minimal though, maybe 50 or 100 miles, about the same period needed to get it adjusted properly. Unlike the Brooks, it’s not waterproof, so you need to pay a bit more attention to it. That’s a minor drawback in my view.
Hope you decided to do RAGBRAI and best of luck.
Thanks for the responses. I’ve managed to find a ride to Iowa.
Am I the only one who would rather wear a little more loose fitting jersey?
You’re definitely not alone. I often do the same, though I occasionally relent and wear one of the several tight-fitting cycling jerseys in my sports wardrobe.
For my lower half however, I ALWAYS wear MTB-style shorts. A form-fitting garment over a beer belly is one thing; the butt of a middle-aged man in Lycra is something no unsuspecting soul should be subjected to.
My rain jacket is also an MTB-style, much more practical and roomy enough to wear a couple of layers under it if the need arises.
Bumping this – ride still needed.
Thanks for the reply Rae – I sent you a PM.
I can’t answer the question about merchandise but can tell you that the odds are overwhelming that you will get a wristband and so needn’t worry about paying for a jersey and not being selected for the ride.
My experience with RAGBRAI is limited, but it seems very uncommon for anyone getting their application in before the deadline to not be selected. In the unlikely event that happened, you could almost certainly buy a wristband afterward on the secondary exchange.
A second for the cheapo sandals from Nashbar. They are heavy, but functional and are my footwear of choice during the summer, especially if rain is in the forecast. I have the MTB-style pedals, so use the standard two-bolt SPD cleat and am not sure other styles will fit sandals though.
Sandaltan is a mark of distinction among discerning bike cognoscenti . . .