29 Years of RAGBRAI -The Mikes Jones Contrarian View


You may take one bicycle, and two bags (of any size) on the Sag trucks. Try to take a “reasonable” sized tent. They actually allocate tent space by number of riders now.

Take only what you think you may need for each day's riding. Remember, for money anything you need will be available along the way anyway. The start of the first day is always dangerous due to rider inexperience and crashes. I always start late on that day. Usually after 8:00 A.M.

Bicycles are stolen frequently on RAGBRAI. The worst times are the first and last days, especially at night. Lock it up! The best is to put it in your tent, or lock close to your tent to something solid. Even then bicycles were stolen by cutting chain link fences. Whenever your bike is unattended, remove computers and all easily stolen items.

Its not a race. The most fun I think is in the towns, and people gathering places. The earlier you ride, the cooler it is. Also, less windy. Also, the less people. The majority of riders are on the road by 7:00 A.M. Remember the people still sleeping when you leave, and be considerate.

In my experience the shower lines will long, and water cold if you arrive at camp after 3:00 P.M. Most townspeople will allow showering at their homes if not overwhelmed. Women do better than men, and couples will do the best. You will get rejection, however, and I've used many a garden hose. Clubs using solar showers now soften the total impact of the masses trying to get clean.

As a rule, the churches have the best food. They always run out of food. You should be in line by 5 PM, and eating at 6:00 PM, or you'll be scrambling for a bite. Pasta is the best fuel for the next day's ride. "Graze" while riding. Don't eat big, except at night. Drink from your water bottle every 15 minutes, even if you're not thirsty. If its over 90 degrees, I never pass a snow cone stand or similar without eating a snow cone. Ice cream will usually hurt you. Stay away from high fat and high protein while riding.

The Porta Potties will fill up quickly. (figuratively and literally) I avoid them as possible. Corn fields and secluded areas fill the bill in an emergency, but watch for mud. After rain, never go in them. I always carry "baby wipe" travel packs! On the road the best facilities I find are at the banks. People rarely use them. Public places like court houses can be good, also churches and food stores. If these are busy go up a floor or two. Try to go where you think some one else either would not think of, or would be embarrassed to go.

Rain. You may need to regrease your bike. Some members can help you; ask them. On the road it is usually warm enough to just keep riding in the rain. Of all the things for rain, I've found that a garbage bag is best. If you ask, any cafe will give you one. Put it under your jersey front and back as a vapor barrier. You're going to be wet from rain or sweat, and the plastic against your skin will keep you warm. Under the jersey will keep you streamlined. A flapping jacket is awful. I leave my legs bare, sometimes Vaseline them. Either wear neoprene booties or put plastic bags over your socks before putting on your shoes.

Be sure to put on sunscreen at the start of each day. Use at least factor 8. I like the alcohol ones that don't make you feel greasy. (Bull Frog) I don't need "moisturizing" cream when I'm sweating, and making heat.

The sag drivers may disassemble your bicycle or do errands for tips. They are not required to do this. If you want them to disassemble your bike, ask them before Saturday. We provide the tools to do it.

Remember to have a good time. It should be easy if you have 300 miles in before RAGBRAI. You have all day to finish the day's ride, and I know you can make it!