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We had a nicely warm day last Saturday in Saint Paul. It started off a bit cold, but then the sun came out. I managed to get in a nice long ride to make the most of the day. Sunday wasn’t nearly as pleasant, so I’m glad I grabbed the opportunity when I could.
Weather permitting, I’ll try and sneak in a couple more rides before the year is out.
@ppayne1959: I’d love to go through Grinnell. I didn’t spend enough time getting to know the town when I was in college there.
I would like to pass through Early some year, just because there’s a song about it.
Along a more northerly route, I have a particular affection for the town of Floyd…just because it’s name is Floyd. Gotta love that.
Best of luck with your recovery, Ginger. May it be full and quick.
@dc7603 : I also have one that plugs into the handlebars. It’s on the drop bar, so I have to look down to see back. There is still a blind spot up close to me, just as in a car, and I bang my knee on it sometimes, but I am still very glad to have it. As you say, it gives me great peace of mind.
I recommend a mirror with good reflective properties. I’ve tried some that make it seem as though you’re looking at the world behind you through a soup bowl. Get a good one. It’s worth-while.
@kwog: Probably Joe’s Wet Shack.
I’ve got a “Nano” camping towel that my daughter used to bring on her long camping trips. I only use it when there are no “real” towels available at the shower facilities. I don’t like it when I have to use it, but when I have to use it I’m a lot happier than if I had nothing at all.
It works well enough and dries by morning even in humid weather.
This is Iowa.
Pork chops happen.
If the weather is good, I’ll be up for riding out to the dip site (and across the bridge too). It would be nice to do this as a group ride so there are more of us on the road to look out for one another.
Otherwise, the Keg Creek runs through town and flows into the Missouri River. I’ll be content to dip my tire in that. Two years ago, my first RAGBRAI, we dipped our tires in the Rock River.
Bike Parking: I like to turn my bike upside-down and rest it on the handlebars overnight. It seems more stable that way. I bring a small pile of Handi-Wipes and wipe down the seat and handlebars in the morning. Works for me.
I could be remembering some other ride, bit I think I have seen some charters set up a rope so that riders can “hang” their bikes in a central location. That seems to work for a smaller group, but it gets a little crazy when there are thousands of riders.
Shower: My typical order of operations is: ride => set up my tent => shower => eat => sleep => pack up => ride. Again, it works for me.
Breakfast: Last year was my second RAGBRAI, and I discovered a little secret. Find a good old-fashioned breakfast place in the overnight town, and have your breakfast there on your way out. It won’t be too crowded, because most riders wait until they’re on the road or in the first pass-through town before they eat. You’ll catch up, because the other riders will stop for breakfast too. That said, I also really like some of the food stands that set up along the way.
Schedule: I think others have said it better already. It’s your ride! :-)
Cash: I usually get by on less than $30 a day, without cheating myself out of all of the fun. Much depends on what you like to eat…and drink. I’m not a drinker, and that makes a big difference in the budget. I have a small water resistant pouch-type wallet I got at a sporting goods store. It keeps my cash and cards protected and fits in a jersey pocket.
Showers: The Mad Shower Hunt is one of the great traditions of RAGBRAI. I’ve done two RAGBRAI’s now and it seemed harder to find or get to the showers last year than the year before. I recommend bringing a small pack-towel with you. They ran out of towels at a couple of places last year.
I’m a fan of Joe’s Wet Shack, but sometimes the towns will open up the showers at the high school or the swimming pool or something. Prices vary from free to several dollars. It’s always worth it. I am always grateful for the shower at the end of the ride, even that time there was only cold water and no towels.
Shuttles: If available, these will take you to and from the festivities. Again, they’re sometimes free and sometimes cost a little.
Check with Farm Boys, if you can. In 2014 they had a separate table at one of the stops that was all fruit. There were fresh strawberries, blueberries, mango slices, grapes, and watermelon. The fruit was off to the side and most folks in the Breakfast Burrito line didn’t notice it. I got some jealous looks from my friends when I sat down with a big cup of cool fresh fruit on a hot, sunny morning.
I’m not sure about indoor camping, but there is usually shelter to be found if the weather gets too rough for tents. I’ve only done RAGBRAI twice so far, and the worst weather I’ve seen wasn’t bad enough to send me indoors. Still, such things are possible. If conditions get that extreme, we probably won’t be worrying too much about sleeping. We’ll probably be crammed together hoping that the roof holds up.
I’m not very good at camping, by the way (my kids are much better at it than I am). I panic if there isn’t a shower or clean water for brushing my teeth, and I always pack way too much stuff. I have learned, though, that a decent tent will weather a storm without getting you soaked.
For those who take their training seriously:
I don’t want to change your mind. Training is part of the fun of the whole experience. Just don’t think you have to use all of that training when you’re actually riding. You certainly have my permission (my encouragement!) to fly past me on the ride if you like. I’ll cheer you on.
…but don’t miss Iowa. Take time to meet the people, view the scenery, snap photos of the wildflowers, pee in the cornfields, get soaked in the rain, eat the food, and whatever else will make this a memorable trip for you. You can make RAGBRAI a challenge like a triathlon, if you want, but there’s a lot of opportunity to enjoy it in a variety of ways.
I was really worried about “being ready” for my first RAGBRAI. I didn’t do nearly as much training as I do now and I had no idea what it would be like. I was a lousy camper, too. I still made it all the way across, even did the Karras loop, and enjoyed myself so much that I came back for more. Sit back, relax, and just enjoy the ride. :-)
@KenH: I lived in the Chicago area for many years. I saw people dance at weddings. I moved to Minnesota.
Before my first RAGBRAI, I rode only 500mi including a couple of long rides (50+ miles) before RAGBRAI. I did alright that year. I made it across all of Iowa on a heavy hybrid bike and even did the Karras loop.
…but I learned a few things. The next year I had a lighter-weight bike and I rode 1000mi before RAGBRAI, including a handful of metric centuries. I was a much happier camper my second year.
This year, I am on track to meet that 1000mi mark again, and I have specifically added some challenging hills to my route. I did a two-day, 150mi charity ride to shake out the camping gear and make sure I knew what I needed to pack.
I think that the one most challenging aspect of riding across Iowa isn’t the ride itself, it’s the stress and frustration that comes if you haven’t dealt with the logistics. On the bike, I’m free. In camp at night, if I’m missing something or have some other problem, that’s what wears me down.
Day 0: For me, RAGBRAI really starts that first day at the start town when I get to the campsite, set up my tent, head out to the Expo, and spend some time in town. Let yourself ease into it.
Day 1: @gringonick talked about the morning of Day 1 2014. That was my first RAGBRAI. Thousands of cyclists in the quiet residential streets of Rock Valley. Local folks sitting on their porches or lawns to watch the spectacle. Some cyclists were going ahead, but most of us just waited for the “official” start. Then we rode out along a road lined with flags and covered with chalk art on the pavement. There was some wobbling and jostling, so we went slowly despite bellies full of anticipation.
Last year, a buddy of mine rode for the first time. It was already my second RAGBRAI, but he taught me more about how to “do” the ride than I had learned on my own. He said that there was a sort of “zen” to riding RAGBRAI. It took him a little while to find it, but then everything kind of flowed into place and he started to enjoy each day more and more. Even when it rained.