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When it is a cold or windy rain you will need a rain jacket and helmet cover for warmth. When it is a warm rain you will overheat with a jacket and helmet cover and be totally drenched in sweat, so go without.
If you are thinking of riding the gravel loop, get some saddle time on some gravel before RAGBRAI. Case in point, a rather tall, muscular guy was bragging how easy it was on the first half of the loop with his carbon fiber fat bike. But when it came to the hills on the second half, he kept losing traction and had to walk up. I had no trouble with my 32mm road slicks on my heavy steel Surly Straggler because I ride a lot of gravel all year long. You don’t need a special gravel bike, just one you know will get you from point A to point B.
So get on your bikes and ride.
I didn’t take the time to talk to the local people this year as much I did in the past but I did talk to other riders a lot more this year. And I never did get to talk with Mr. Pork Chop on past rides but I did get to talk to his son Matt this year. It was another great ride.
It has been a few years since I had nothing left to ride up a hill on RAGBRAI but if I had nothing left, I’m not too proud to get out and walk. Still happens occasionally on training rides. Like it’s been said, “I’ve never met a hill I couldn’t walk up”. Don’t let it get you down.
I agree, Clear Lake camping was not very good. There were plenty of kybos throughout the camp ground but they were reserved for special teams and the public ones were a long way away. I heard someone say they used one of the private kybos in the middle of the night and purposely slammed the door as loudly as they could.
Take care Mich. See you next year!
P.S. Do you have your own private curb in your backyard with room to sit for a few friends? Just wondering.
Not all shower facilities have towels to rent so buy yourself a microfiber towel. Give it a couple of shakes and it’s almost dry. Fluffy cotton towels will not dry very well in the humidity and start to smell funky towards the end of the week. And the extra cost to rent one is not bad considering the alternative is having to pack a wet towel.
Route 9 is the support road. Not recommended. Follow the posted route. When the route turns south (right) keep going straight and turn left (north) on Harper Lansing Road. Much safer and only 3 miles more than Route 9. No pass through towns.
The GravelRAG17 does not loop back like the posted route shows.
I had a black Giro helmet with some white accents at the back of the helmet that looked like giant eyes. It was extremely helpful to wear it when I rode in red winged blackbird country. Before I bought it the blackbirds would pester me to no end and some would even attack my helmet. But when I wore this helmet the birds would still pester me but would refrain from actually attacking, especially when I swiveled my head. That helmet has been retired as it is falling apart from age.
Seeing a rider on RAGBRAI without a helmet is rare. Usually a local that rides for a day. Even rarer is a week long rider. Having my fair share of crashes (road, gravel, and mountain biking), I’m glad I wear a helmet every time I ride. I did play football in high school and college and learned how to tuck and roll in a way that lessens the impact. My helmets have shown that I avoided lacerations and abrasions in some of the crashes. My only cracked helmet came when I to a stop and the wind blew me over before I could unclip on the side I was falling. Hit my head on a curb and it rung my bell a little but I can’t imagine how bad I could have been had I not worn a helmet.
Wear the helmet!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I always hydrate before a long ride with one bottle of water and try to drink at least one bottle every hour right from the start of the ride. Every third bottle on a long ride I have an electrolyte of some kind. Eat something about every hour too. You need to consume enough carbohydrates or you will exhaust your body’s glycogen stores.
At night during RAGBRAI I always have two bottles of water with me in my tent so when I wake up thirsty I can keep hydrating.
Please note that when going through towns it is not safe to ride at speed. This means you will have to slow down in towns and that will require a faster average speed when out on the road. On a crowded road a speed faster that 20 mph is when there are more chances for a collision with slower riders as you will have less time to react. If you really have to try to do this, go very, very early before the masses are on the road. And on any really hot day, many veteran riders also head out early before sunrise to beat the heat.
A better idea is to take it easy and enjoy the show.
One problem I had with a phone mount is the phone is out in the sun all day long and gets hot in direct sunlight and will shut itself down. So now I keep my iPhone in a jersey pocket. I use a Garmin Edge 520 hooked up with Bluetooth to my iPhone to let me know when I have incoming messages or phone calls. The Garmin tolerates the direct sun better as the screen has a white background during the day. If I had to use a phone mount in the future I would slip a small white sock over the phone when riding during peak sunlight hours. Early mornings and late evening are not a problem.
Just my little piece of advice. Your mileage may vary.
My best advice to anyone is keep hydrated and nourished. Always carry two water bottles with you and don’t pass up an opportunity to refill before leaving a town along the route. Some times you will see someone giving away water along the route. Take advantage of that opportunity too and make a free will donation. If you feel thirsty you are already partially dehydrated. Another sign for me is when I’m tired and start yawning then I know I’m dehydrated even though I may not be thirsty.
Other good advice:
Gear down and spin up hills. Coast when you can.
Start early on really hot days.
Take a nap in the shade when the sun is high in the sky.
If you are not having fun, lower your expectations.
Some days I can’t believe I’m in my sixties and out-riding some half my age.