RAGBRAI L is probably my last. I had a few good moments but mostly it was a journey of survival: Heat, Hills, Headwinds and more cyclists than I have ever seen in my life.
People familiar with my participation in two RAGBRAI, including this year’s 50th anniversary event, ask if I’m going to do another one. I’m not. Here’s why.
- It’s expensive. The registration fee – $225 – is only the tip of the iceberg. I have to get my bike, my luggage and myself to the start town. Airfare, plus one extra baggage fee. I bought a hard shell case for transporting my bike – $500. Must travel the day before which necessitates one night’s hotel charge. Then a charter to get my stuff from town to town. Meals and drinks, and any incidentals (had to replace my crankset).
- I’m still working fulltime, so I have to use Paid Time Off (PTO in corporate lingo). Counting the travel day, that’s six days of PTO which pretty much depletes my PTO reserves.
- It’s hard. RAGBRAI L was 500 miles of hills, heat, and headwinds. Some days distance was as high as 90 miles, with no rest days after. It was a test of my motivation to get up each morning after a fitful sleep in my tent to get back on my bike and ride over more hills. True, there’s a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day, but also a sense of dread that you’re going to repeat the act tomorrow.
- It’s crowded. RAGBRAI L might be an exception since so many riders decided to participate. At my charter’s campsite the charging stations were overwhelmed, making it nearly impossible to refuel devices. Lines for the kybo’s were incredibly long. Lines for food in the pass-through towns were incredibly long.
Still, there’s a magical appeal to RAGBRAI. There’s no other event like it in the world. Iowa is beautiful and the citizens are wonderful. It’s a big deal to say you’ve done one, or many. But I’ll pass this time and save up my PTO for actual time off.