Sunday, January 06, 2013


This is a series of posts intended to get Adam ready for RAGBRAI.  It won't be complete, but hopefully it'll capture a few things that are useful and get me thinking about what was important in the past.  I'll tag them all RAGBRAI PREP so they're easy to find.

This first one is a repeat from RAGBRAI XXXV in 2007.  Six years ago, really?  Not surprising.  I was trying to get one in under the wire before I turned 40.  Weird to think of 38 as young.

These are the things I carried during the day of the ride.  On me, on my bike, in my pack:
  • Update: Remember a cap.  This is mandatory if you're balding like I am.  I had to buy one on both trips.
  • Helmet
  • Two water bottles - you can probably get by with one, but it is the hottest week of the year and sometimes I'd blow through both my bottles over the course of ten miles.  Once, we missed a town (it was so small we blew past it) and then two bottles became a godsend.
  • Rain jacket (take it in and out depending on the weather report)
  • Blackberry (phone) - off unless needed.  See the next item - I didn't use my phone as a camera, just chews up too much battery life.
  • Camera - extra batteries or a charger.  Enough memory to handle the whole ride.
  • Notepad and pen - so you can track what pictures you took if necessary and few amusing notes.
  • 30 SPF sun block - later upgraded to 50 SPF
  • Money and credit cards
  • Maps of where we were going (elevations, populations) - not entirely necessary, there are plenty of people to follow, but it's nice to know how far ahead the next stop is, particularly if you blow a spoke.
  • Butt Balm - incredibly useful.  However, I got in the habit of putting it on in the morning and then leaving it in my main pack to get rid of one more thing.  When I did carry it, it was because I was worried my dad hadn't packed any or was out.  Saddle sores are brutal if you get them during the ride.  Took months for them to go away after my second RAGBRAI.
  • Spare tube - or patches.  I like to have an extra tube.  Both can't hurt.
  • Wet wipes - cleanliness is next to godliness.  And they're good for all sorts of things.
  • Hex wrench - make sure it has the size/s you need.  I have a multitool now.  Only one rider needs a tool if it fits both bicycles.
  • Pump - I'm not sure which I'll take this next time.  I own both a CO2 driven mini pump and a manual pump.  I tend to take both along as I'm paranoid.
  • Toilet Paper (small amount in case places ran out) - wipes are a substitute, obviously. 
  • Bike Gloves - I liked having them along, but I didn't always wear them.  I've sort of grown away from them over the years.
  • Address for ex-boss' mom as a stopover point - or any other Iowa friends/friends of friends once you know the route.  Most of them like it when you stop to say "hi".
  • Tylenol/Advil - lots of it.  Never hurts to pop a few before bed to handle aching muscles.
  • Peanuts (some sort of snack) - something emergency that doesn't melt.  I like the Nutrition mix - dried fruit and nuts.
  • Razor Knife (used three times during the ride) - surprisingly handy.
  • Chain lubricant - you pick up a lot of dirt.
  • Spoke wrench - make sure you have the right size.
  • SPF 15 Lip Cover - I don't normally get burnt lips. I did during RAGBRAI.  That's a long time in the sun.
  • Strap for my pack to carry it (never used) - so don't bring it again.
  • Tire Irons (one set between the two of us)
  • Sunglasses
  • Odometer - it's very useful to know how far away that next town is or, more importantly, if you missed on completely.
  • Everything in plastic ziploc bags for rain safety - including a few extra bags in case one wears out.

I wish I had brought:

  • an ipod with speakers (they make a way to attach them to your bike) - I disagree with my old self.  I far prefer catching the tunes off other people's speakers, even when it's awful.  It's a source of amusement.
  • a kickstand (keeps the dew off your chain and gears - I have a little bit of rust) - interesting.  I disagree with my old self again.  I'd just be careful this time.  Put plastic over the front gears or something.
  • a light (blinking, red - for early, overcast mornings - just the back of the bike) - hard to say yea or nay on this one.  But I think yea.  It'd be nice to have it even if you only ever used it once.  No spare batteries necessary.
  • 20 less pounds - should be good for that this time. I should be 65 pounds lighter than at the start of my last RAGBRAI.  Makes up for all the gear above.

At certain times, there was also:

  • A banana - free food.  Take it.  Keep it.  Eat it.
  • A bottle of soda or water - pretty consistently.  One year Hilary Clinton gave me a free bottle of water.  Not personally.  It was nice to have.
  • Trash to throw away at the next stop - don't liter Iowa!
  • A fossil I found on the side of the road for Eryn (i.e. a big rock)
  • Knick knacks from the information booth (beads, spoke clickers, etc) - dump them in your main bag whenever you get the chance.  Clutter is a problem, even if the weight isn't.

I packed pretty heavy simply because I had the extra space in my big bag.  I have the same bag now. I think most people made due with putting SPF on in the morning and packing it in their big bag, and then making space for a camera, spare, tire irons, cell phone and money. My Dad carried most of the above (sans camera) in a somewhat smaller bag with webbing where he could easily tuck a banana.  If you're big on bike jerseys, and I have a number that fit now, you can tuck a banana or snack in the back pocket as some extra space.

1 comment:

Andy Keller said...

A perfect list, I cannot think of anything I would add. There is nothing worse than being unprepared. I have been stressing about it and was really getting into my head a little deep with it. Brian Bruns saved me, is book Rumble Yell put RAGBRAI into a better perspective for me, it's absolutely hilarious and you need some of that in this training., this is his site info on the book. It's a must for any RAGBRAI rider or family member!