Thursday, June 6, 2013

RAGBRAI 2013: A Primer

Time for a long-overdue blog post since RAGBRAI is now next month and participant packets arrived yesterday.

Twenty-four riders strong (plus the best damn support team in RAGBRAI history!), we include 11 Coe alumni, two parents and three members of the college staff. Ages range from 23 to 60. In addition to 18 Iowans, team members hail from North Carolina, Missouri, Utah, Illinois, Virginia, New Jersey, South Carolina and Washington, D.C.

Final payments are due July 1 from 10 riders who haven’t paid in full already (thanks, by the way, to those who have). Remember that the $225 deposit is non-refundable. While I hope there are no cancellations, we will refund $100 to anyone who has to back out before July 1. No refunds for cancellations in July.

Here are some packing tips, based on eight years of RAGBRAI experience:
Sterilite 30-gallon tubs are the preferred storage tote for Team CoeBRAI. Easily found at Target or Walmart for around $10.
  • Please put identification on everything you take on RAGBRAI.
  • 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. 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 and water bottles are necessary equipment. Everyone doesn’t need to bring a pump, as enough will that we’ll have plenty to share.
  • Camping equipment: You'll need 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. Some of you ordered a CoeBRAI jersey and a few also ordered a RAGBRAI jersey, which you will receive upon arrival. 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. Remember the key to a happy hiney: 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, 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, credit cards, journal, pens, stamps, 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. I’m still working out details, but it appears we will be on our own for dinner most nights. Anything else you may want or need can be purchased by our support crew during their daily store run. Bring a small cooler for anything you don’t wish to share. Anything left in the large team coolers will be fair game for all.
  • Electronics: Cell phone/Internet service is usually epically spotty with the crush of humanity on rural Iowa. 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.


I’m still working out the details, but our schedule will look something like this:
  •  6-8 p.m. Friday, July 19 -- pre-load in Eby Fieldhouse parking lot with optional social gathering at the Home Port
  • 8 a.m. Saturday, July 20 -- finish loading
  • 10 a.m. Saturday, July 20 -- departure from Eby parking lot at Coe
  • Noon Saturday, July 20 – lunch stop in Des Moines
  • 3 p.m. Saturday, July 20 – arrive in Council Bluffs
  • Sunday, July 21-Saturday, July 27 – bike 407 miles across Iowa
  • 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27 – dip tires in Mississippi at Fort Madison
  • 5 p.m. Saturday, July 27 – arrive back at Coe
  • 6 p.m. Saturday, July 27 – celebration dinner at Casa Las Glorias


Our hosts in each overnight town are: 
  • Council Bluffs -- Matt Madsen, father of Coe junior Peter Madsen
  • Harlan -- Jim Bruck ’77, our first repeat after also hosting us in 2008
  • Perry -- Scott Finneseth ’85, father of Amanda Finneseth ’11
  • Des Moines -- Steve Van Every ’75
  • Knoxville -- Kevin and Jennifer Bassett Wadle ’95
  • Oskaloosa -- William Penn University
  • Fairfield – Jeff Evanello, father of Coe sophomore Chris Evanello and a CoeBRAI participant along with Holly Baker

 Because we have more riders than room to transport them, I have made arrangements for two of you to ride out with our friends the Lizard Kings. Let me know if you’d like to volunteer for this assignment.

1 comment:

Matt Oaks said...

I've recently read Brian Bruns' Rumble Yell, set during RAGBRAI it was a fun read, very funny. http://www.briandavidbruns.com/BDB/Rumble.html. But I imagine the ride itself to be very challenging, but I would pack his book for a little comedy relief if things get too serious!