Thousands of people make the annual pilgrimage to Iowa in late July to participate in the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, also known as RAGBRAI. The ride is more than six months away, but the preparation starts now in the colder months of winter. New riders should register, select a team or charter group, and make some equipment and training plans.
Registration for RAGBRAI opened on November 15. Riders can sign up by visiting the RAGBRAI website. From there, you can order merchandise, souvenirs, and more. One RAGBRAI tradition is to create and join teams of other riders for their journey. Teams can register as a group on the website. So gather up your friends who ride and register together. (First timer tip: Don’t forget to close your group registration.)
Charter services cannot make your ride easier, but they can make it more enjoyable. A basic charter will haul your luggage, reserve a space to camp, and make sure your needs are taken care of. Some charters have additional luxuries such as tent rental and setup, massage and mechanics, and additional food or beverage. One service even has a semi-trailer converted into condos for travelers who hate to unpack. The RAGBRAI Charters website can give you the lowdown on how the services work.
First timer tip: Have someone on your team who has ridden RAGBRAI at least once or use a charter service.
If you're shopping for a new bike or tent, start now. There are some great deals at retailers over the holidays. If your bike just needs a tune-up then get it into the shop now while they aren’t busy. That way you can be ready to ride on that first warm day of the season. (First timer tip: A six-pack of craft beer is a great gratuity for your favorite bike mechanic.)
So where is the ride going? We won’t know until the route is revealed at the Route Announcement Party on January 24, 2015. Make plans to attend this gala for a flavor of the ride and learn where you will be riding during the warmer months.