I just got back from RAGBRAI 2017 and had these extra tips fresh in my mind and wanted to get them on this blog to help others.
When sitting down in a kybo slowly stand up and shut the toilet lid before you pull up your shorts. Someone on our team lost a phone in there this year!
When using a cornfield as a bathroom make sure to go at least 6 rows back from the entrance. Also make sure you look down as you walk. Others have probably used the corn already and you don’t want to step in something bad!
Guys, remember that Gatorade bottle you brought with you on the ride out so you can pee while on the bus? After you empty it keep it in your tote and have it handy in your tent. This will allow you to go to the bathroom in the morning when it’s light out and it’s more difficult to find a spot to pee.
Wash your hands with soap and water whenever you have the opportunity. A lot of kybos will have hand sanitizer to use but a lot of them are also empty. Some kybo lines will have a portable sink next to them but most of the time those are out of water as well. Nothing beats running water and soap. Your hands can get very dirty very quickly while on RAGBRAI.
With dirty clothes going back into your totes during the week it can start to get very stinky. Keep a few extra plastic grocery bags with you and place your dirty clothes in the grocery bag. When one fills up start another. This will help cut down on the smell and help keep your clean clothes smelling clean throughout the week.
The main strip in town where the bike route goes through all the food vendors is commonly known as “the shit”. It can be frustrating walking your bike through the shit when you just want to get out of town. If you can bypass it then ride a block up and around the shit. It will save you a lot of time and frustration. This is especially true when dealing with the shit in the overnight town, a lot more people in there at that time!
If you have to lay your bike down flat to park it, it’s best to lay it on its left side with the left pedal turned to the top. This will allow you to lay your bike down as flat as possible and it will keep your gears/chain from getting dirty from the ground.
If you ride with a group of people make up some kind of code that lets everyone know that the group is leaving soon, like in the next ten minutes. Nothing is worse than everyone who is ready to go has to wait for someone who just got in a long food line.
When parking your bike in town you’ll see bikes leaning against almost anything. Do not lean your bike against any vehicle that may need to leave. You also don’t want to scratch it. Usually buildings or light poles are the best place to park your bike.
If you have team stickers you’ll always be looking for fun places to put them, usually on signs or in bathrooms. Do not put any stickers on anything owned by local or federal government, such as cop cars, firetrucks, post offices, etc. This can get you and your team in a lot of trouble with the law. It’s happened before with other teams.
RIDING BETWEEN TOWNS
If you are a registered RAGBRAI rider and you can’t finish the day’s ride because of mechanical problems or body problems then you can ride the SAG Wagon for free. Put your bike upside down on the LEFT side of the road. When the SAG Wagon comes by it will stop to load your bike. You should be close by so you can then hop a ride on the SAG Wagon. I’d recommend finding a shady spot to wait for the SAG Wagon. You don’t have to ride the SAG Wagon if it has your bike, they’ll transport it for you if you are registered. You can pick it up later in the overnight town. If you are not a registered RAGBRAI rider and want to ride the SAG Wagon I hear they charge $100.
Besides the SAG Wagon you can usually also grab a ride with any other team bus. Most of them are pretty good with helping out other riders. Some may let you ride for free and some may charge. Either way if they do help you out then help them out by loading bikes and lending an extra hand wherever you can.
If you want breakfast but don’t want to wait in a crazy long line then don’t stop at the first breakfast opportunity. When you leave the overnight town there’s usually a breakfast stop before the first town. This stop usually has a crazy long line. Try to skip it and make it to the first town. If the first town has crazy lines then skip it and keep going. The farther in you go the less the lines are. Depends on how hungry you are and how long you want to wait to get food.
Cell coverage can be really bad in the overnight towns and also the towns in between because of all the other cell phones overloading the cell phone towers. If you need to check for texts or make a phone call it works best if you do this on the road in between towns. You can almost always get a good connection there.
When riding in between towns you need to have your eyes in two locations: in front of you to watch for other bikers but also on the ground in front of you to watch for cracks and road damage. You’ll want to miss potholes, bumps and especially tight center cracks. Those center cracks and pinch your tire and make you flip over your handlebars. Also, be careful when crossing railroad tracks. Slow down if possible and if you have the room cross the tracks at a perpendicular angle, that’s the safest way to cross.
If you ride with a group try to pay attention where the rest of your group is, either in front of you or behind you. If you end up coming up to the next town then stop BEFORE the next town entrance, it’s easier to find your group that way than when you get into town.
When you get to the overnight town find your team/spot. Get your tent set up, your bed set up with your sheets/blanket ready to go. After you shower and change clothes and head downtown pay attention to any large landmarks and street names. When you come back to your tent for the night it’ll be dark out and things will look different, very easy to get lost. But if you have general idea where your tent is located it should make it easier than wandering around the town all night.