RAGBRAI 2014 overnights announced; my thoughts

January 27, 2014

LOGOProof10So, the RAGBRAI 2014 route is revealed. And, while I’ll confess to being initially disappointed with the shortness of the ride, I’ve found myself quickly getting over it and getting enthusiastic about the event 🙂

Top-level stats: The 2013 route was the 2nd-shortest route in history and with 17410 feet of climb, the 15th flattest, for overall the 7th easiest in the 41 year history of the event. I thought for certain, therefore, that this year’s had to be tougher; but instead, at 418 miles and 11316 feet of climb, this year’s is the 3rd-shortest and 2nd-flattest ever, for overall the 2nd easiest route. TRUE, it is about a dozen miles longer, actually, than last year, but it has roughly 1/3 less climbing.

Here’s the daily mileage and overnight towns:
Day 1: 69 miles, starting in Rock Valley. Overnight in Okoboji.
Day 2: 41 miles. Overnight in Emmetsburg.
Day 3: 73 miles (plus optional Karras Loop). Overnight in Forest City.
Day 4: 36 miles. Overnight in Mason City.
Day 5: 63 miles. Overnight in Waverly.
Day 6: 68 miles. Overnight in Independence.
Day 7: 68 miles. Arrive Guttenberg to end ride.

All in all, those daily distances are pretty darn respectable – other than the short 41-mile day two and VERY short 36-mile day four. However, it’s forgivable as they are sandwiched around the longest day – 73 miles on day three, which also features the optional Karras Loop century ride, so a potentially 100 miler on day 3.

The hardest day seems unanimous – day 7. 68 miles but 3073 feet of climb, which is well more than any other day on the ride and is a full 1/4 of all the climbing on the event. Even so, though, at about 45 feet/mile climb, it’s only slightly more than the average of the 2013 event.

A couple of cool things on this year’s ride:

  • The night one is in Okoboji. Being not an Iowan myself, this meant nothing to me, but the online reaction, as well as that of friends of mine who grew up there, are very enthusiastic – seems like a very cool area to check out.
  • Lots of nice small towns this year. In 2013, four of the eight overnight towns had populations greater than 10k (including of course the giant Des Moines); this year, only ONE (Mason City) does, and four of the eight have populations of less than 5000. The final town, Guttenberg, is tiny at ~1900.
  • Two of the 8 towns have never been overnight stops on RAGBRAI. Starting town Rock Valley has never been an overnight RAGBRAI town; it was a pass-through town once, in 1985 – 29 years ago. Okoboji has never been an overnight town. Additionally, Mason City was an overnight town once, in 1985.

In some ways, this year’s route is SLIGHTLY more “evenly distributed” in mileage than last year; leaving aside the two small days which bookend the longest (and optional century) day, all other days, including the final three, are ~68ish miles.

As with last year, I’m looking forward to learning more about the overnights and of course, once they are announced, the passthrough towns. For now, while I was initially disappointed in the shortness of the route (I wanted a 500-mile scorcher), this still sounds like a very fun time, and I’m getting quite excited already, 6 months out.


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