The Chainlink

RAGBRAI registration just opened. It's time to sign up for a spot on the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, since they usually sell out. (See www.ragbrai.org for all the details.) Although the actual route (which changes every year) won't be announced until January 25, a good time will be had by all on this wonderful but challenging carnival on wheels.

What are your favorite RAGBRAI stories? Here's one of mine:  RAGBRAI has passed through more than 780 Iowa communities. On the 40th anniversary of the ride in 2012, RAGBRAI finally got around to passing through Lohrville (population 368) for the first time. For its theme, the town chose: "Welcome to Lohrville, the Ride's 40-Year-Old Virgin," (a very apt theme, BTW, because "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" is a great bike movie)!

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WOW. You are a fount of stories! This is great!

Craig S. said:

Wow, so many damn great memories.

Drinking in Dike, IA at 9:30AM in 1998 because that day was only 35 miles long. 

The years when team buses could pull up to any beer garden in any town, unlike the past 8 or so years of the designated "meeting town."

Revisiting Dike, IA several years ago and getting kicked out of town, by the state patrol, twice.

Riding with fast Air Force lines. Being able to lead some of those fast Air Force lines.

Having my photo taken with the local county Pork Queen and her minions one year (I have that photo somewhere if anyone needs proof).

The hot year of 1999 and walking through ground clouds the night in Decorah. That year I also rode extremely sick due to eating tainted cajun catfish from a vendor who's not been on the ride since. That day the beer garden pulling into Clear Lake was one of the best in memory; lakeside, with ample parking for buses, lots of dancing, nudity and Vodka/Gatorade.

Riding in scorching heat and heavy headwinds from Manning to Audobon on Ragbrai 34, through a "dry" county that wouldn't allow roadside services. Worst 20 miles of my life.

I had a rain storm inside my tent the first morning in 2003.

All the "fashion" shows staged by Team Dragbrai.

Riding the Kallas Loop around Rathbun Lake on my first Ragbrai in 1997 with a great group of folks that I somehow just hooked up with for that stretch.

My first day from Missouri Valley to Red Oak in 1997, riding the 82 miles in around 4 hours and then wondering what it was I was missing as no one was in camp for hours. I've since learned the errors of that day.

Riding on beautiful roads with no cars, in all weather from rain/hail, cold, scorching heat.

Making some lifelong friends from years ago, starting a conversation going up a hill.  Where else does that happen?

I have a lot more, but I've only ridden 14 of these things and I'm the rookie on my team. People make the mistake of getting to the end town too fast and after 14 rides, the end town is invariably the same as the day before.  I suppose if one is riding on one of these huge charter groups, then one does need to get in fairly fast to avoid camping next to the Kybos every night, but all the magic of Ragbrai happens out on the road and the pass through towns.

Several years ago, on a beautiful blue sunny day, a handful of riders who were also cheerleader moms set up a flash free beer stop on the road.  Two pickups with the beds loaded with ice and beer parked at a corn field beside the road, donations were accepted to help the local cheerleading squads.  These moms, dressed in their riding lycra, made more money from a bunch of the happiest people that were strangers to each other upon arrival but not upon departure.  They sold out and the pickups rolled before the storm boot of Ragbrai authoritarianism could stomp down on them. It was a wonderful 45 or so minutes.

Even if one isn't partial to drinking, the free beer stops are amazing places to meet people, we never pass a free beer stop.



Greg Borzo said:

WOW. You are a fount of stories! This is great!

Craig S. said:

Wow, so many damn great memories.

Drinking in Dike, IA at 9:30AM in 1998 because that day was only 35 miles long. 

The years when team buses could pull up to any beer garden in any town, unlike the past 8 or so years of the designated "meeting town."

Revisiting Dike, IA several years ago and getting kicked out of town, by the state patrol, twice.

Riding with fast Air Force lines. Being able to lead some of those fast Air Force lines.

Having my photo taken with the local county Pork Queen and her minions one year (I have that photo somewhere if anyone needs proof).

The hot year of 1999 and walking through ground clouds the night in Decorah. That year I also rode extremely sick due to eating tainted cajun catfish from a vendor who's not been on the ride since. That day the beer garden pulling into Clear Lake was one of the best in memory; lakeside, with ample parking for buses, lots of dancing, nudity and Vodka/Gatorade.

Riding in scorching heat and heavy headwinds from Manning to Audobon on Ragbrai 34, through a "dry" county that wouldn't allow roadside services. Worst 20 miles of my life.

I had a rain storm inside my tent the first morning in 2003.

All the "fashion" shows staged by Team Dragbrai.

Riding the Kallas Loop around Rathbun Lake on my first Ragbrai in 1997 with a great group of folks that I somehow just hooked up with for that stretch.

My first day from Missouri Valley to Red Oak in 1997, riding the 82 miles in around 4 hours and then wondering what it was I was missing as no one was in camp for hours. I've since learned the errors of that day.

Riding on beautiful roads with no cars, in all weather from rain/hail, cold, scorching heat.

Making some lifelong friends from years ago, starting a conversation going up a hill.  Where else does that happen?

The cost is not an issue, it's plunking it down right now that's the problem. If I weren't buying a house right now, I would have already registered.

Greg Borzo said:

Still, the cost of a wristband...even with all the other expenses...is one of the best vacation dollars you'll ever spend. You'll get a lot of bang for your buck.

Will said:

I'd love to do it next year, but might wait to see if I can get a wristband at the last minute, as I'm buying a house next month and am saving my pennies at the moment.

I rode in 2011 and have been looking to do it again, but the arrival of children can change your plans quickly.

Then I rode with a "team" and we had our own SAG vehicle, which was great because it gave us a place to sleep at night.  But I think the next time I'm going o do it...maybe this year, maybe 2015, I'm going to do it sans SAG and carry my gear. 

Got it. Good luck with the house. RAGBRAI will be there when you get good and ready for it!


Will said:

The cost is not an issue, it's plunking it down right now that's the problem. If I weren't buying a house right now, I would have already registered.

Greg Borzo said:

Still, the cost of a wristband...even with all the other expenses...is one of the best vacation dollars you'll ever spend. You'll get a lot of bang for your buck.

Will said:

I'd love to do it next year, but might wait to see if I can get a wristband at the last minute, as I'm buying a house next month and am saving my pennies at the moment.

"ONLY 14." I love it. I've done three, so if you're a rookie (at least in the eyes of your team), what does that make me! What team or group do you ride with?

Craig S. said:

I have a lot more, but I've only ridden 14 of these things and I'm the rookie on my team. People make the mistake of getting to the end town too fast and after 14 rides, the end town is invariably the same as the day before.  I suppose if one is riding on one of these huge charter groups, then one does need to get in fairly fast to avoid camping next to the Kybos every night, but all the magic of Ragbrai happens out on the road and the pass through towns.

Several years ago, on a beautiful blue sunny day, a handful of riders who were also cheerleader moms set up a flash free beer stop on the road.  Two pickups with the beds loaded with ice and beer parked at a corn field beside the road, donations were accepted to help the local cheerleading squads.  These moms, dressed in their riding lycra, made more money from a bunch of the happiest people that were strangers to each other upon arrival but not upon departure.  They sold out and the pickups rolled before the storm boot of Ragbrai authoritarianism could stomp down on them. It was a wonderful 45 or so minutes.

Even if one isn't partial to drinking, the free beer stops are amazing places to meet people, we never pass a free beer stop.



Greg Borzo said:

WOW. You are a fount of stories! This is great!

Craig S. said:

Wow, so many damn great memories.

Drinking in Dike, IA at 9:30AM in 1998 because that day was only 35 miles long. 

The years when team buses could pull up to any beer garden in any town, unlike the past 8 or so years of the designated "meeting town."

Revisiting Dike, IA several years ago and getting kicked out of town, by the state patrol, twice.

Riding with fast Air Force lines. Being able to lead some of those fast Air Force lines.

Having my photo taken with the local county Pork Queen and her minions one year (I have that photo somewhere if anyone needs proof).

The hot year of 1999 and walking through ground clouds the night in Decorah. That year I also rode extremely sick due to eating tainted cajun catfish from a vendor who's not been on the ride since. That day the beer garden pulling into Clear Lake was one of the best in memory; lakeside, with ample parking for buses, lots of dancing, nudity and Vodka/Gatorade.

Riding in scorching heat and heavy headwinds from Manning to Audobon on Ragbrai 34, through a "dry" county that wouldn't allow roadside services. Worst 20 miles of my life.

I had a rain storm inside my tent the first morning in 2003.

All the "fashion" shows staged by Team Dragbrai.

Riding the Kallas Loop around Rathbun Lake on my first Ragbrai in 1997 with a great group of folks that I somehow just hooked up with for that stretch.

My first day from Missouri Valley to Red Oak in 1997, riding the 82 miles in around 4 hours and then wondering what it was I was missing as no one was in camp for hours. I've since learned the errors of that day.

Riding on beautiful roads with no cars, in all weather from rain/hail, cold, scorching heat.

Making some lifelong friends from years ago, starting a conversation going up a hill.  Where else does that happen?

For those looking for a smaller multi-day (6 day) tour here in Illinois, the League of Illinois Bicyclists is conducting its 12th annual GITAP - Grand Illinois Trail and Parks ride - from June 15-20, 2014.  This year's loop ride visits scenic northwest Illinois, starting and ending in Oregon (IL) with overnight stops in Freeport, Galena (two nights), Mississippi Palisades State Park, and Morrison.

Each day's ride provides the option of a basic (40-55 miles) or longer (up to 100 miles) route, on marked, quiet rural roads and some trails.  Your luggage is transported to the next site while you ride.  Most riders camp, but there is a motel option.  Breakfasts and dinners are catered, with lunch on your own along the route.

GITAP is a small, friendly ride, leading to many returning customers renewing friendships each year.  To accommodate our growing demand, we've upped our limit for 2014 from 160 to 225.  Last year, we sold out in January.

Details and registration for this year's rides is at http://www.bikelib.org/maps-and-rides/rides/gitap.

I plan to ride for the fir st time next year.  Has anyone used the Chicago area charter  companies to get to and from the ride and camping? I'd like to know what your experience was like.

Hi Linda, I have riddent with Chicago area teams (C.U.B.S. and Team Gourmet) rather than charters, but I am familiar with the charter Pork Belly Ventures by meeting the owners, visiting their campsites and interviewing people who joined their charters. It seems to me that this charter, the largest one on all of RAGBRAI, is well run, lots of fun and worthy of your consideration. Seems like they go all out for their customers. I hope this helps. - Greg



Ed Barsotti said:

For those looking for a smaller multi-day (6 day) tour here in Illinois, the League of Illinois Bicyclists is conducting its 12th annual GITAP - Grand Illinois Trail and Parks ride - from June 15-20, 2014.  This year's loop ride visits scenic northwest Illinois, starting and ending in Oregon (IL) with overnight stops in Freeport, Galena (two nights), Mississippi Palisades State Park, and Morrison.

Each day's ride provides the option of a basic (40-55 miles) or longer (up to 100 miles) route, on marked, quiet rural roads and some trails.  Your luggage is transported to the next site while you ride.  Most riders camp, but there is a motel option.  Breakfasts and dinners are catered, with lunch on your own along the route.

GITAP is a small, friendly ride, leading to many returning customers renewing friendships each year.  To accommodate our growing demand, we've upped our limit for 2014 from 160 to 225.  Last year, we sold out in January.

Details and registration for this year's rides is at http://www.bikelib.org/maps-and-rides/rides/gitap.

Looks like a great ride...and a lot closer to home. I will check it out...and think that everyone should!  Thanks!

I did it the first time in 2013.  Was a blast.  I'd be going this year too but I don't have enough vacation time. 

Hi everyone I wanted to let you all know that beginning in 2014, we will be offering transportation for you, your bicycle, and your baggage both from downtown Chicago to the start of RAGBRAI® and also from the end of RAGBRAI® back to downtown Chicago.

Please note that we will only be offering transportation from and to Chicago and no other charter services during the week, such as baggage transportation between stopping towns. (maybe next year though!)

We are still working on the details, so if you are interested in this exciting new service visit www.bicycleillinois.com and join our mailing list so we can keep you informed as more specific information becomes available. Signing up on our mailing list does not obligate you to register for our transportation service in any way.

Also if you have any questions or comments in the meantime about this new service please don't hesitate to let us know. Thanks!

Rob Layton
Bicycle Illinois
Ride Director

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