Thursday, June 28, 2012

RAGBRAI packing for newbies

I know some of you are unsure what to bring, so here are some tips from the RAGBRAI folks, plus a few of my own.

Please put identification on everything you take on RAGBRAI. Lost items can be returned to owners.

Bicycle equipment: Helmet is #1. Bicycle shops can handle most any mechanical need you have, but you might consider bringing a small repair kit that includes a tire, spare tube, tire irons and small wrenches. (I've survived on spare tubes and chain lube. As long as you get your bike serviced before RAGBRAI, it should be good to go.) In addition, a rear view mirror, bike gloves, pump, bike bag, rain gear, bicycle lock and water bottles are necessary equipment. (A lock isn't really necessary either, from my experience.)

Camping equipment: You'll need a duffle bag (or, in our case, a 30-gallon plastic tub, such as the one pictured here), sleeping bag, pillow, pad, tent, ground cloth, rope, stakes and a flashlight. (A collapsible chair will also come in handy. It need not fit into your plastic tub, nor does your tent.) The tubs are just a handy way to tote items from town to town and also offer protection from the rain. For extra protection, pack what you can in large ziplock bags. I have a small supply of tubs should anyone, particularly out-of-towners, wish to use them. The one-tub-per-person rule will be strictly enforced. On RAGBRAI, less is more.

Toiletries: Pack a towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, skin lotion, shampoo, soap, razor, nail clippers, brush/comb, hair ties/barrettes, deodorant, mirror and toilet tissue.

Clothes: T-shirts, shorts, a jacket, pants, warm-up suit, underwear, socks, shoes, sandals, sleepwear, swimsuit and sweatbands/bandannas should get you through the week. (Two sets of biking attire are sufficient from my experience -- one to wear and one to dry out after "washing" it in the shower. Remember that you will be getting a CoeBRAI jersey and some of you also ordered a RAGBRAI jersey. Remember also that each overnight town has a t-shirt they would like to sell you. Be sure to bring padded biking shorts!)

First Aid: Pack aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamins, Band-Aids, gauze, tape, first-aid cream, lip balm, sun block (lots of it!), insect repellent (even more!), safety pins, special medicines, Campho-Phenique and sanitary protection with disposable bags if needed. (Chamois Butter before and during, Gold Bond powder after. Avoid this advice at your own peril.)

Miscellaneous: Bring an alarm clock, spare glasses, sunglasses, a scouting knife, camera, film, watch, earplugs (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Trains, rock concerts, civil defense sirens, etc., will inevitably disturb your effort to get some rest. Bring earplugs!), ID, money, traveler's checks, credit cards, journal, pens, pencils (who uses pencils anymore?), stamps, address book, several plastic trash bags for rain protection and zip-lock bags. Be sure to enclose everything in a water-tight plastic bag. Did I mention earplugs?

Food: Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided in camp. You may also want to bring a box of Power Bars and keep one on your bike for when you need a quick energy boost, but don't want to wait in line for pie. Many of our hosts will be providing dinner. Out of courtesy to them, please don’t linger on the route until late and then expect dinner to be left out for your late arrival. Anything else you may want or need can be purchased by our support crew during their daily store run.

Electronics: Cell phone service is usually epicly spotty with the crush of people. But we will have charging stations available in camp. Please send me the number of the cell phone you will have with you and also the name and contact information of your emergency contact.

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