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I let Andrea know that I had not received mine on Friday after carefully checking and double checking my inbox, spam, junk, etc folders to make sure that I did not miss it. Yesterday Anne sent me an email with the code, thanks for that Andrea and Anne!
RAGBRAI will happen in 2021!
The chances for Iowa’s Ride seem dimmer now that TJ has left the building. It could still happen.
In other news an alien spacecraft will land in Omaha in about 6 weeks. The science officer will run a write in campaign for US president claiming natural born residency since her home planet is technically part of US airspace once per day. She will win and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.
One can hope….
Looks like fun. One in western Iowa, two near Cedar Rapids, the rest near Des Moines. I suppose it was too much to hope there would be one in the NE Illinois part of Iowa? Yeah, I know that would be highly unusual but it would attract some people. Perhaps too many in fact.
I have a question. From what I hear the windstorm that woke everyone up in the Chicago area a couple of weeks ago really, really pummeled the Cedar Rapids area. Will it be possible to hold an event there in September? I am sure they could use the tourist dollars if it is and I will have to think about it but perhaps Cedar Rapids is close enough to the NE Illinois part of Iowa to make it feasible to attend.
I don’t believe I have received a $15 credit. I got a 10% credit for being a virtual ride participant, but no $15 credit that I am aware of. I never got an email confirming my registration next year either and I thought the credit was supposed to come with that. I have, however, received the jersey for next year!
Who knows? Like many people he never reported back. RAGBRAI could be done on any kind of bike. It appears that the Whip has about 56 gear inches. Bicycle Bill calculated that above on his way to calculating the wheel circumference. Most people just stop at the gear inches which sounds odd and gives you the equivalent size wheel you would have if you were riding an old fashioned ordinary/high-wheel/penny-farthing bicycle instead of one of these modern chain driven contraptions. Not many people ride high wheelers at RAGBRAI but some do and I am sure some have done the whole thing on one. People still make high wheel bikes and one of them says a 56 inch front wheel would be suitable for someone with a 38 inch inseam, taller than many of us. So in high wheel terms the Whip is a good choice for long distance road riding.
There are many more folks who ride single speed and fixed gear bikes on RAGBRAI. The Whip would be a modern single speed bike. I don’t ride single speeds so I am not familiar with the gearing that people commonly use. Here’s an article from Surly that discusses it without giving you any feel for what people use either. If, however, we assume that the two “700c” bikes at the end have 29 inch wheels/tires then the range in gear inches they recommend for a good starting point is 51 inches on the low end and 67 gear inches on the high end. The Whip is right in that range, another indication that it would be suitably geared for RAGBRAI use.
My Trek 920 has 20 speeds, although some of them are not terribly different from some of the others. It will run 19 inches for climbing hills up to 110 inches for downhill dashes. That is the power of multiple gears and the reason that most of us use them. But you don’t have to be like most of us. Most of us ride road bikes in full Spandex kits and don’t carry much of anything on the bike beyond a water bottle. Many of us don’t do any of that so you will have plenty of company. And we all get along together just great all week long, so don’t be afraid to come and express your individuality!
The most important thing is that your bike is comfortable for you to ride for up to 120 miles in a day. The 100+ mile day every year is typically 65 to 85 miles if you ride the direct route and 100 to (last year) 120 miles if you take the optional Karras Loop. So you don’t have to ride 100 miles but you will have to ride several 65 to 85 mile days in a typical year. If you are not riding that far now, get out there and start working up your mileage. There is plenty of time to get up to 80 miles before winter sets in. If you can comfortably do that on your Whip then you will be good for RAGBRAI. If not, then you might want to consider a more traditional geared or single speed bike. They are built to be comfortable over the long haul and you might find yourself liking a single speed road bike as much as your Whip if you tried one.
I have the book that John and Ann wrote. Found it for sale in a bookshop in Ottumwa the last time we were there, 2016 wasn’t it? It’s a great book, I highly recommend it!
My memory says that the gravel loop started in 2015 and it was pancake flat and fairly well packed, at least the automobile tire tracks were packed. You could find loose stuff to ride on if you preferred. There was a farm that had a nice display of vintage tractors on the loop for us to gawk at. The loop in 2016 was a similar surface but introduced some hills. I was a Ride Right Ambassador (has the Air Force Team taken over that role?) that day and stopped to make sure a older rider (ie, about my age!) who had gone down was getting all the help he needed from the young couple who were assisting him. The Catholic church in Imogene had just been remodeled and it is lovely if you are ever in town with some time to sightsee. The 2017 was similar, maybe a little hillier, but my main recollection of it is that it was probably the most scenic of the gravel loops so far. There were some simply gorgeous spots. And I saw them twice!
The loop in 2018 started out fine, I am told, but this “gravel” road was a thin veneer of gravel over a base of the sand like loess material that gives the surrounding hills their name. The first few hundred riders were riding on gravel. Their tires quickly sliced through that gravel layer and churned the road surface into a mixture of gravel and sand, mostly the latter in many places and for long stretches. It was not a big problem until we got to the loop town, the name escapes me, where I actually saw and chatted with TJ for the first and only time in history. He told me the worst was yet to come and he had that right. It was very, very hilly and roughly the same as riding on dry sand the whole way back to the main route. I collapsed in the shade of a farm yard with some other riders and took a nap at one point. While there we were treated to a brief violin recital by another rider! If there had been a SAG wagon (do they even serve the gravel loop?) I’d have taken it, the only time so far that I felt that way! When I got back to the main route I was still resolved to SAG it. When I got to the first pass through town which was also the town where the gravel route diverged from the main route Beekmans saved my bacon. I had already visited them the first time through town, I hit them again and enjoyed a second helping while listening to a local band of younger musicians who had a girl playing bass. I tend to notice bassists because I play bass for our church band. When the concert was over and the ice cream was gone I felt almost human so I decided to ride to the next town before sagging it. One by one I felt a little stronger at each of the following pass through towns and ended the day feeling quite good actually. I call that experience The Purgatory of the Loess. It’s like the Hell of the North every year in Europe, just a little bit less eternal in the punishment it dishes out!
Last year was quite hilly again. My two riding buddies are more than a decade younger than me and I struggled all week to keep up with them on paved roads. And it was raining a lot of the time. Then, when the loop was done we turned into a strong headwind on the main road. Our support vehicle was in the meeting town when we got there so I sagged it with the driver for the day. Kinda wished I had rested a while longer and gone on but the temptation was too great. I don’t think I could have done that loop twice but under better conditions, at my own pace, I could have done it once and felt good about finishing the day. I’m not complaining, the gravel loop is intended more for younger and stronger riders. I will keep running it for as long as I can.
I have the same story as you do in my head about the genesis of the gravel loop. It might be appropriate to name it the Hed loop but I suppose RAGBRAI can have only so many named features before that becomes too unwieldy to continue.
I got a new Trek 920 in 2018 after I got home from RAGBRAI. It came with tubeless compatible rims and I put tubeless tires on it in the spring of 2019. So I did last year’s RAGBRAI tubeless and had no issues. Of course I did the previous 7 RAGBRAI’s on tubed tires and had two flats, the only two flats I have had on the road since I started riding on the road again in 2010. The folding bike I ride to commute to work has had more trouble than that since there is a lot of glass on the margins of the city streets that I ride. Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires have proved to be immune to that for the last two years however.
The tires I am using are considered tubeless ready. The recommended amount of sealant will seal them up quite well so I do not pay much attention to tubeless versus tubeless ready. I believe I have read on the Stan’s site that you can run any tire tubeless as long as you keep the pressure to 45 psi. I don’t know if that is just for MTB sized tires or if road tires can be run higher. You certainly would not want to run 23mm road tires that low! I would not head out on a ride without sealant. Bike tires are so thin that even if the tire carcass is airtight without sealant punctures remain too much a possibility to ignore.
If you don’t have a pump or air compressor that will seat a tubeless tire when you put them on the rims you can try a CO2 inflator. That has worked for me. Some caution against using CO2 because it can be incompatible with the sealant or something. It has worked for me and once you have the tires pumped up to pressure and seated fully you can let most of it out and refill with ordinary air, which also contains CO2, just not as much!
The year that the Karras loop was so named is mentioned somewhere in the RAGBRAI chronicles that can be found on this website, if anyone has the time/interest to do the research. Last time I looked the chronicles did not have the few most recent years documented. I hope that someone does that before they become too poorly remembered to write up properly — hint to Andrea Parrott!
I don’t know if RAGBRAI had a century every year in the early years, you would have to consult the chronicles on that. I do know that the very first year had a century. They were relatively uncommon back then and the founders did not know if their 300 fellow riders would be up to one. Mostly they were.
My little team of four riders generally shares the driving of our support vehicle amongst ourselves since we have had little luck finding a driver for the price, free, that we are willing to pay. Do you think we are asking too much there? Anyway, my policy the last few years has been to offer to drive SAG on Karras loop day so that I can have the gravel loop day free. One year I did get a century in anyway because I did the gravel loop twice! I think that was 2017. The last two years the gravel loop has nearly done me in, there was no chance of me doing it twice and in 2018 I only barely managed to do it once. I think that the gravel loop selection process lately has been to try to replicate the Dirty Kanza in miniature. If that keeps up this old man will not be doing any double gravel loops in the future! It would be nice if in future years the route is chosen so that once around the gravel loop would bring you up to a century. A second century would appeal to those who perpetually feel the route is too short and so it might increase ridership of the gravel loop.
Well, I already have my 2020/2021 jersey so I can tell you that the Register does have them in stock, probably enough in stock for the full expected ridership, and that diminishes the chances that they will redo them. If you really hate them and express your opinion then I suppose there is always the chance that they will replace them. I think it is unlikely.
I like the jersey well enough. Cycling jerseys are a very personal thing and some years appeal to me more than others. This one is above average in my opinion. I rode the virtual RAGBRAI or at least enough of it to qualify for the 2020 gravel and Karras loop patches. I have a 2020 RAGBRAI patch too, not sure if it is a special patch for the virtual ride or the would have been official 2020 patch, actually haven’t paid that much attention to it. And I have the jersey. So I am good, whatever they decide to do about these items for 2021. I just don’t think there is anything wrong with the jersey!
My cycling career started in the 1950’s on the gravel driveway of my grandfather’s farm. My frugal father had bought me an old 26″ adult bike “that I would grow into”. It was just barely capable of being adjusted for my size so that I did not need blocks on the pedals or training wheels either. I learned to ride in about 15 minutes using the classic dad running alongside holding you up method. You know, the one where after 14 minutes of intense study you suddenly find yourself amazed at how hard your dad can run. Dad? DAAAD?!?! HEY, I CAN RIDE A BIKE!!
I rode a lot over my school years, like the typical small town kid of that era. At one point my father broke his frugal style enough to buy us new 3 speed, English bikes! My first cross country riding experience was riding that bike to the town next door which had a hobby shop. I was introduced to the art of evading farm dogs. One time I rode into a cloud of bugs near the top of a hill and as I started down I realized, to my horror, that I was riding in a swarm of bees. Aided by gravity I was able to ride fast enough to actually splatter one of them against my glasses! But the bees paid me no attention. They were just honeybees looking for a new spot to build a hive, not murder hornets.
I rode a lot though high school and college. I even got a new 10 speed “racing bike” when I graduated and got a job. My riding tapered off however and faded away over the years. I never connected with a bike club, I wish I had. I live in suburban Chicago, that would have been easy to do. But I was pretty much a loner back then, I just didn’t do that sort of thing. I was a junior in college when the first RAGBRAI was ridden. I would not so much as hear of it until 2011.
In 2008 I had not ridden in years. My wife and I were doing a lot of walking, the only form of exercise for either of us. I was walking to the train station every morning and taking the train almost to work. My employer had a shuttle bus that would take us between the station and work. Life was good. Then they canceled the shuttle. One of my fellow train riders was an avid cyclist. He was unusual in that he was doing field engineering installation work of two way radio systems for a large midwestern electronics firm — with a degree in theater arts! But he also rode a folding bike and as we were discussing life after the shuttle bus he told me that the commuter rail service in this area allowed folding bikes on rush hour trains.
So I got a folder. And started riding it weekends too. It is a nice bike but not optimum for the longer and longer rides I was taking. So I got a regular bike. And it was only a few months of riding that before I got hit by a car, or something. I can’t tell you exactly what happened but I woke up in a hospital bed the Saturday before Easter of 2010 and even to this day I cannot remember a single thing about the accident due to the severe concussion that I sustained. Having fallen off the horse so to speak I was determined to get back on as soon as possible. And I did, and I started reading more and more about a thing called a “century”. So I resolved to do one.
Spring of 2011 rolled around and I downloaded a training plan and trained to do a century. Got a bad saddle sore on my final 80 mile training ride the weekend before. Used every potion known to man and woman to treat it (women were particularly helpful because, sexist or not, they are more familiar with treating diaper rash). I became familiar with “chamois cream”. And I rode that century the next weekend. I bonked at about 70 miles, first time for that, rested for over an hour at the last rest stop, and I finished the last 30 miles feeling pretty good.
A few weeks later I made the “mistake” of telling a friend that I had just ridden a century. Mind you this was a friend who like me had not ridden a bike in years.
His response was “Dude, we have got to ride RAGBRAI!”
My response was “Huh, what’s a RAGBRAI?”
He only knew about it because a mutual friend of ours had ridden one day of it a couple of years before with his brother in law. I really wasn’t that interested in the idea but for a friend I would consider it. We hatched a plan to ride three days of RAGBRAI XL and managed to talk another friend into driving support. We arrived in Marshaltown on the fated day in 2012, parked the motorhome in the designated campground and were almost immediately chased out of it to shelter from the storm that anyone who was there will remember that night. We were sitting in the shelter building as the storm raged and I am looking at the construction of what was basically a pole barn, a large tin shed, thinking “If we get hit by any serious wind we would have been a LOT safer in the motorhome!”
THAT is my very first memory of RAGBRAI. Obviously we all survived.
The next day we get ready to ride, saddle up, and head out. It was intoxicating from the get go to join that mass of humanity pedaling down the streets of Marshalltown. And then after a few hundred yards we had to stop to attend to something one of us had forgotten to do on their bike. This was something we would do at least half a dozen times in the first mile or two before we all got squared away and were ready to ride for the day.
But it was a really nice ride after that. It had been beastly hot up until then, I hear, and the heat moved out with the storm so the ride we three had was just glorious really. We quickly got acclimated to RAGBRAI culture and just as quickly identified our favorite food vendors. We had a grand time. It was over too soon, it always is and doing only three days made it end even quicker. On the ride back home the other two expressed an interest in doing two or three days next year. “NO!”, I said. “I want to do the whole thing.”
I was hooked.
I don’t know why, it is partially unexplainable. Every year you must have a dozen if not a hundred moments when you swear to yourself that you will NEVER do this again. And then you have thousands of moments when you can’t believe how much fun this is. With time, sometimes it takes only 10 minutes, the bad times just become good stories to tell. The good times remain. The Bible tells us that we are created in the image of God. Occasionally we can see that, most of the time it is a well hidden truth. RAGBRAI is the week where we see that hundreds of times every day. THIS is what we could be like all year around.
If only we tried.
You can see all of the meeting towns here. That should help with your route guesses!
It is never to early to worry about the start of the ride dip site because TJ never seemed concerned about it at all!
I wish that when the ride starts on a town well removed from the border that the route would just include a jog to the west and a suitable dip site. It’s not like RAGBRAI ever takes a direct route from point A to point B! And the “dip loop” could be an option like the gravel loop and Karras loop. TJ would never give any consideration to that notion. I think it offended him or he thought it was silly or something.
But we have a new director now so maybe next year or perhaps soon?
Yes we are just over a year from the next ride and I look forward to the time soon when the counter reads less than 365 days. However if this were just a few days from the next ride and there was still a backlog of registration packets to ship out TJ might have been barking orders like mad but he would have too many other fires to fight to spend time packing and shipping. His absence has little to do with the wait for merchandise and for the last two or three years the situation was similar, so I doubt very much that his presence would have made much difference this year.
We have no idea what troubles DD is facing right now. It might make us very worried indeed if we did know, based on the troubles that I see other businesses having right now. Covid shipwrecked Iowa’s Ride and sent its captain packing to another state. It has to be doing a number on RAGBRAI and the Register as well. This is not an easy time for anyone so I can stand to wait a bit longer to get my merchandise. I’d rather that the RAGBRAI team stay safe and in business than raise a stink because I’m not getting what I ordered instantly.
I did contact them but not out of impatience, just because I wanted to confirm that I was all squared away for next year. I am a team contact, you see, and out of the four of us two are not going next year, one was on the fence, two had not registered yet, and one was requesting a refund of his registration. So when the deadline hit I was registered but unpaid. The instructions on how to handle that situation were no where to be found so back then I had to consult with the RAGBRAI team on how to proceed. They gave me instructions which I followed and it seemed to work. They were dealing with team contacts like me on a case by case basis.
But then I still had not and have not received any merchandise or other promised communications several weeks after the promised date. So, I contacted them just to make sure my registration was all squared away. Throughout that whole process they were very helpful and accommodating though at times slow to respond due to the crush of business. You have to understand that they are not only dealing with Covid but also still cleaning up the mess that TJ left behind. They are doing well and I am willing to be patient. I honestly don’t think that TJ would be doing any better at this point.
I assume that a lot of the interest in the double cross was an expression of loyalty to TJ rather than interest in the concept itself. I think it was and will be a fine opportunity if it actually comes off as planned. However, the looks on our spouses faces when we tell them we will be gone bike riding for two weeks in a row is a strong deterrent for many of us!
I do not have my merchandise yet but they have responded to my emails. As of July 1 they said I should receive my goods “in the next few weeks”. Yes, a bit disappointing but I think the virus has a lot more to do with this than the departed ride director. I just cannot imagine TJ personally packing and shipping ride merchandise at this point in the RAGBRAI planning cycle so I don’t think his absence has anything to do with the delays. Large commercial distributors have had trouble keeping to their normal schedules through this mess, it is no surprise if RAGBRAI has similar trouble.
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