Ragbrai 2012

During the last full week of July every year, ten thousand riders bike their way across the state of Iowa on a route that changes every year.  This ride is called the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, and the ride in 2012 was the 40th.  This was my fourth RAGBRAI and the longest one I’ve done to date.  Although the route itself was 471 miles, by the end of my journey I had clocked 517 miles.

In order to do Ragbrai, you need to decide on how you will get your stuff from town to town.  You can do this in a number of ways.  A small handful of Ragbrai riders are self sustaining and haul all of their gear on their bikes.  Others get help from friends or relatives that drive from town to town.  I elect to sign up with a charter service.  Lake Country Cyclists out of Ankeny, IA is the charter service that I have used every time.  Having no experience with other charters, I cannot say where it is on the worst to best ranking scale.  It is good enough for me and it is reasonably priced.  
For $300, you get a bus ride from Ankeny to the start of Ragbrai, all of your gear hauled to each overnight town, cold water available at camp for water bottles, three camp showers for your use, tent set up service, and a bus ride back to Ankeny from the end of Ragbrai.  LCC also has several lawn chairs available for relaxing at camp, two coolers full of water, soda, and beer priced at $0.50, $1.00, and $2.00 respectively.  Until I get my own team put together, I will continue to ride with them.

The ride this year started out okay, but then got excessively hot during days 2, 3 and 4.  There were 9 of us that started out together.  At the end of day 3 in Webster City, IA, three of our crew quit and went home.  During the evening of day 4 in Marshalltown, IA, a thunderstorm ripped through our camp with high winds. It soaked my dad and his best friend’s tent and gear.  They called it quits the following morning. 

I arrived in Cedar Rapids at the end of a pleasant day 5 as there was a break in the heat.  There were moderate winds that dried everything from the night before and made the evening very tolerable.  Everyone was looking forward to the next day, which was an extremely short ride with a nice breeze and temperatures in the low 80s.  Even riding slow, I finished before noon and had a long day to drink and relax. 

The last day into Clinton, IA was my best ride of the week.  Although I had woken up hungover and got a later start than most of my crew, I finished the 70 mile day, got my picture taken at the tire dipping site, got lost and found my way to the truck all before noon.  That allowed me to dry out my tent and get a shower before the long bus ride back to Ankeny.  With only four of us that made it, I really felt accomplished.  I defeated Ragbrai 2012, and it felt great. 

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