I just got back from another year of RAGBRAI. Wasn’t sure if it would actually happen because of the new wave of COVID-19 cases. It was cancelled last year. I only did three and a half days of riding from Parkersburg to Clinton.

Originally, I was going to bike out to the route and back and meet up with my team, but when my friend Mike said he was going to come all the way over from Switzerland, I adjusted my plans so that I could help him get to the route/team and share any gear with him that he may have needed.

I still kept my gear to a minimum. The weather forecast called for hot days and nights with very little chance of precipitation.

** Special note about food/water. I am glad I brought bars, gel blocks, hydration tablets, cold-soak meals. Being a vegetarian on RAGBRAI is still hard to do. On top of that, everything is pricier and in smaller quantities. Water, was scarce when I needed it. I really wished it was more available in the overnight towns. I get done with the ride and want to refill bottles, get a bit extra so that I can recover and start the next day hydrated.

Packing List

  • Bike

  • Bike sandals

  • Frame pump

  • Water bottles (2)

  • Rear light

  • Helmet

  • Bike gloves

  • Spare tube

  • Patch kit

  • Presta adapter

  • Multi tool

  • 15mm mini wrench

  • Sunscreen tube

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Team koozie

  • Cycling cap

  • Headlamp

  • Sunglasses

  • Rear mirror

  • Half-frame bag

  • Tent

  • Sleeping bag liner

  • Pillow

  • Sleeping pad

  • Socks

  • Bike shorts

  • Bike jersey

  • Board shorts

  • Merino wool riding tee (2)

  • Sun sleeves

  • Buff neck gaiter

  • Flip flops

  • Running shorts

  • Hiking shirt short-sleeve

  • Sleep tee

  • Wipes

  • Allergy meds

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste tabs

  • Bug lotion

  • Drug/vitamin cocktail

  • Wallet

  • Phone

  • Charger cord

  • Charging plug

  • Battery cord

  • Battery

  • First-aid (Neosporin and band-aids)

  • Ear plugs

  • Chapstick

  • Mini pocket knife

  • Spork

  • Cold-soak jar

  • Spare sunscreen tube

  • Marker pen

  • Zip-ties

  • Extra zip-lock

  • DIY deodorant

  • Trucker hat

  • Eye drops

  • Soap

  • Chamois sheet

Didn’t use

In addition to the above packing list, I was a bit cautious with my packing plan and added an extra pair of padded shorts, an extra battery pack and a 4L water bladder but didn’t use them.

  • Bug spray - the bugs weren’t bad.

  • Vitamins/drugs - These were in my food bag and I simply forgot about them.

  • Extra merino wool tee - Packed as an extra riding shirt, I ended up wearing my team jersey twice to represent the team and the other wool tee because it dried enough and didn’t smell too bad.

  • Extra sunscreen - I used the sun sleeves and buff which greatly reduced the amount of skin I was exposing to the sun.

  • Charging cord/plug - Turned my phone off at night, mostly texting and short calls during the day and a few pictures. The battery pack had plenty left.

Wished I had brought

  • A long sleeve - It got colder than expected mainly due to the rain that was also not in the forecast. Originally I had this in the pack list but switched to the short-sleeve hiking shirt. I got by without it, but there was a chill or two I could have done without.

  • Rack/pannier - Beer storage capable of holding ice while on the ride. I had a backpack instead. It carried the beer alright but it warmed up quickly.

  • Laundry soap/collapsible basin - Tried to make laundry work with a zip-lock and my regular soap, but it could have been a better experience. The sun sleeves (white) got dirty quick.

Final Thoughts

It hit me this year. RAGBRAI is a celebration of bikes with bike-loving people. It isn’t a scenic trip (if you have done it a lot) and it shouldn’t be a fitness challenge. I remember sitting at a beer tent in the middle of the route, miles away from the nearest town and thinking about how all of these folks rode out to this farm on their bikes just because and to hang out together and have a beer and maybe some shade. I just thought that was neat. For a while I started to favor other bike trips instead of RAGBRAI, but it really should be in a separate category. Instead I should just factor in how many vacation days I can spare so that I can continue to ride RAGBRAI.