Friday, May 2, 2014

RAGBRAI 2014: A Primer

Now that we’re officially in for RAGBRAI, I thought I’d share a few tips as reminders for veterans and a primer for virgins.

Thirty-three riders strong (plus the best damn support team in RAGBRAI history!), we include 12 Coe alumni, a parent and four members of the college staff. Ages range from 24 to 72. In addition to 21 Iowans, team members hail from Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri, Utah, Illinois, South Carolina and Washington, D.C., with one rider joining us all the way from Ecuador. Twenty-six riders have been with Team CoeBRAI at least once in the past 10 years, while we welcome seven new folks to the fold, including one of our hosts from 2013.

Our support staff/drivers include veterans Ryan Workman, Abby Masters and Lisa Zingula. Joining them this year is Jean Beer, the wife of CoeBRAI veteran Bob Beer.

Jersey orders are due May 20. Final payments are due July 1 from any riders who haven’t already paid in full. 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 nine years of RAGBRAI experience:
  • 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 18 -- pre-load in Eby Fieldhouse parking lot with optional social gathering at the Home Port
  • 8 a.m. Saturday, July 19 -- finish loading
  • 10 a.m. Saturday, July 19 -- departure from Eby parking lot at Coe
  • Noon Saturday, July 19 – lunch stop en route
  • 3 p.m. Saturday, July 19 – arrive in Rock Valley
  • Sunday, July 20-Saturday, July 26 – bike 418 miles across Iowa
  • 3 p.m. Saturday, July 26 – dip tires in Mississippi at Guttenberg
  • 5 p.m. Saturday, July 26 – arrive back at Coe
  • 6 p.m. Saturday, July 26 – celebration dinner at Casa Las Glorias


Our hosts in each overnight town are:
  • Rock Valley – TBD
  • Okoboji – Laurie and Arnold Bates, relatives of Abby Masters
  • Emmetsburg – relatives of a colleague of rider Bob Untiedt
  • Forest City – friends of Ryan Workman
  • Mason City – Kurt Lichty ’78, the son of a Coe alumna and father of a current student
  • Waverly – Linda Brandt, the mother of a recent Coe graduate
  • Independence – Steve and Mary Ohl, a former Coe Admission staff member who also hosted us in 2007