RAGBRAI 40 is right around the corner, or maybe it just feels that way.
I am planning to ride the route again this year (my 10th time going). It isn't until July 22-28, but there's lots happening right now that every RAGBRAI rider, myself included, should be doing to get ready.
Patch is participating in RAGBRAI XL and covering it all week. We are looking for riders in all of our Iowa Patch towns, who are interested in sharing your pictures, your stories and your experiences. Contact me, or your local editor if you are interested.
In case you missed it, RAGBRAI XL and crosses the state from Sioux Center to Clinton. Here is a link to the full route. The Counting Crows (think 1990s pop, Mr. Jones and Round Here were a couple hits) was named the headline act of a concert on Day 5 (Thursday, July 26) in Cedar Rapids.
First thing's first: If you haven't registered yet, time is running out. The deadline for online registration for a week-long participant wristband is Sunday, April 1. You can register here. I just completed my registration, and it took about 20 minutes online.
Registering enters you into a lottery to get a wristband. RAGBRAI has a cap of about 10,000 registered riders per day.
A week-long rider wristband is $150. This pays for things like emergency medical service, route signs, daily maps and pick up from the "I can't ride anymore van" better known as the SAG wagon. The daily maps are pretty handy, as are the signs when you come into towns late. Thankfully, I've never needed the SAG wagon or medical services, but it's nice knowing it's there.
Results of the lottery will be posted on May 1. People can continue to request day passes until June 1.
Aside from the logistics, participants still have plenty to do. Remember that narrow thingy in the garage with two wheels and the uncomfortable looking seat?
That's your bike. You will want to get that out.
Tune it up. Grease the chain, lube up the cables and check your breaks, tires and derailleurs. Better yet, take it in to your local bike shop and get an expert to do it so you don't miss anything (or break anything). A basic tuneup can run $50 to $100 depending on what you need done. You can find stellar service at any of the shops in Iowa City (, , , and is offering ). I've been to and in Ankeny and they do a pretty good job, too. I don't have first-hand experience with any other shops, but bike mechanics tend to be pretty good folks.
Lastly, it's time to start riding.
Biking gurus recommend putting in 500 miles plus of seat time prior to embarking on RAGBRAI. No time like the present knocking that out. Nothing will help ensure a good time on RAGBRAI more than being in shape. Trust me, you don't want exhaustion, a sore backside or worse to get in the way of enjoying all the festivities.
I've been trying to hit a spin class once a week at and have taken some shorter rides. Many bike clubs around the state are also full steam ahead with their calendars of group rides. These can be nice for people not familiar with group rides to ease into riding in crowds.
Don't wait. Get out and start taking advantage of the good weather. Biking season is here!!