To RAGBRAI or Not to RAGBRAI?

Even before I finished the seven day bike ride across Iowa known as RAGBRAI, people asked me if I was going to do it again next year. I demurred and said I would not decide until I got home and recovered. As soon as I returned home I began to hear from friends and work colleagues who were so inspired by my adventure they declared their intention to be on my team next year. Oh! Okay.

BBF: Best Bike Friends

BBF: Best Bike Friends. Christi and Kathy met cycling across the US with Adventure Cycling and reunited for RAGBRAI.

Not that their enthusiasm locks me in to riding RAGBRAI 2016 from July 24-30. Since I believe I should be intentional about the adventures I choose and with whom I do them I am taking this space to think through “to RAGBRAI or not to RAGBRAI?” Maybe it will help you decide if this adventure is next for you.

  1. Do you have a team?

I am so thankful to Team Larry for inviting me to be part of their experience for my Virgin RAGBRAI. You can ride solo, but you make it much harder on yourself. If you do not have a Cousin John to invite you to be part of his team, then you can form your own. It makes it easier to compete for registration and it gives you company along the way. We were able to stay at friends of friends houses by camping with tents in their yard and using their bathroom. Some made us dinner, some did not. Your team may choose to use one of the support tour companies that provide various levels of support. Some teams were all about getting their drink on–all day and all night. Others were more about getting their sleep on at night.

The other key team member is your support driver (or SAG). I could not have completed my RAGBRAI experience without Lane from Atlanta and her nurturing and logistical support.

2.  Do you have time to train?

I spent 10-12 hours a week riding my bike in the months leading up to RAGBRAI to get my recommended 1000 miles of training. I fell a little short, especially of hilly rides. I will travel to Sonoma and Marin to log some more Iowa like miles if I ride again next year. The fitness benefits made it a great investment of my time. And I enjoyed it.

Team Larry members head out to the RAGBRAI route  at 7:00 a.m.

Team Larry members head out to the RAGBRAI route at 7:00 a.m. 

3. Is it in your budget?

RAGBRAI fees are low–just $160 in 2015. Jerseys and other stuff is optional. I paid $225 into the Team Larry kitty for the van/gas, alcohol, snacks and the occasional pizza. The real expense was for equipment and transportation for me and my bike from Sacramento to Des Moines. As a consultant I have to factor in lost earning opportunity. It would have been impossible to work remotely because of the crap wifi in rural Iowa and the mushy brain after 8+ hours on the bike. Maybe you have to decide if it is worth using your precious paid vacation leave. If you already own a decent road bike (some people even used hybrids), then this is an affordable adventure.

The Intangibles

I totally understand how RAGBRAI becomes a yearly event for A LOT of people. It motivates you to get back in shape. You spend quantity time on your bike. My bike skills and speed improved dramatically this year because of RAGBRAI. You meet great people and have a ton of fun.

I am leaning heavily toward forming a team and going back for 2016.

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