The world’s largest party on two wheels is fast approaching – are you ready for it? The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and embarks from Sioux City, its original starting place, on July 22. Maybe you’ve cut corners on your training regime (you’re not alone) or simply searching for some last-minute advice— we’ve put together a list of RAGBRAI tips to ensure you’ll have a great week.
Here at ROKFORM, we are experts in rugged phone cases and durable accessories built for an active lifestyle. Avid cyclists who ride long distances, whether it’s high-mileage training or multi-day tours, know that having the right gear is crucial. Keep your phone protected with ROKFORM mountable phone cases and secure it to your bike with the V4 Pro Series Bike Phone Mount or Sport Series Bike Phone Mount. Ride with confidence and enjoy easy access to your phone’s GPS, messaging, and cycling apps!
ROKFORM Rides RAGBRAI
This summer, ROKFORM is joining the party and creating a blog series about RAGBRAI L. I will be completing the ride this year with my father (a seasoned RAGBRAI veteran) and bringing along plenty of ROKFORM gear to help us out along the way. This blog is the second blog of the series, following our first post explaining the origins of this famous Iowan event and what to expect during its 50th edition. We’ll be sharing unique stories and photos from this year’s ride on July 22-29!
RAGBRAI Tips for Enjoying (and Surviving) the Ride
RAGBRAI is far from being a backcountry bicycle expedition, but the week-long ride still requires a bit of training and preparation in advance. RAGBRAI riders love to not take themselves too seriously, so there’s no reason to stress out or wildly over-prepare. If you run into problems during the ride, there are plenty of fellow riders and other resources that will help you out. That said, there are several top tips that are worth knowing beforehand so you can be prepared for the serious amount of pedaling and partying that lies ahead.
Pre-ride RAGBRAI Tips
1. Time to get in shape!
It’s never too late to start training for RAGBRAI. That said, getting a few miles in the week before probably won’t boost your fitness at all, but at least you can say you did something. Remember that RAGBRAI isn’t a race and riders will ride at their own pace, so the real challenge is daily distance.
This year’s route features days that measure between 50 to 80ish miles, with three days coming in a smidge over 80 miles. Plan ahead and go on extended group rides before RAGBRAI. The biggest tip is to make sure that the first day of RAGBRAI isn’t the first time you are completing a bike ride of that distance.
A great way to track your training progress is with a cycling app like Strava or Kamoot. Instead of a cycling computer, you can use your phone to easily record rides, share stats, and reach achievements.
To free up jersey pocket space and protect their phone while riding, dedicated cyclists love ROKFORM bike mounts, available in two models. The V4 Pro Series installs directly to your bike’s headset for a streamlined and secure connection. For riders who want a bit more customizability, the Sport Series Bike Mount straps anywhere along the stem or handlebars— it’s quick to attach and remove if you have multiple bikes or want to take the mount with you.
2. Bike maintenance
Start the week with a healthy bike that’s operating just as it should be. Hopefully, you’re not dusting off any cobwebs, but feel free to take your bike to your local bike shop for a tune-up. Have settings like your bike seat height dialed in, and install any accessories you will want to use, such as a ROKFORM phone bike mount. This bit of bike TLC before the grand départ of RAGBRAI ensures your first day goes off without a hitch.
Take a look below at how to quickly install the V4 Pro Series Bike Mount with the help of Johnny O’Mara, 5x National Mountain Bike XC Champion and ROKFORM brand ambassador:
3. Social media scoop
Facebook may be a waning social media platform that’s past its prime, but the RAGBRAI L group is a gem of information and pre-ride hype. Maybe it’s the Midwestern sensibility or the quirky comments from RAGBRAI veterans, but the RAGBRAI L Facebook group posts have been quite entertaining to my dad and me in recent weeks. Participants with many RAGBRAIs under their belt love to share their wisdom, and we’re grateful for it. In the event’s 50th year, past riders have picked up tons of tips, tricks, and hacks specific to RAGBRAI over the decades.
The various overnight towns along the RAGBRAI route also share information on their social media pages so you can know what to expect before you arrive. Another treasure trove of insider info comes from the JustGoBike podcast that tells stories from the RAGBRAI community.
Whether you’re browsing social media or uploading fun pictures during the ride, it’s important to protect your smartphone from accidental drops. ROKFORM’s rugged phone cases for Apple and Samsung offer heavy-duty protection that’s perfect for outdoor activities like cycling and camping. The powerful, integrated magnets and patented ROkLock twist system let you secure it to metal surfaces and are compatible with our wide range of sturdy phone mounts.
“I really like this case. It knocks off all the ‘wants’ I was looking for in a case: good protection, magnetic, and attractive”
RAGBRAI Tips for During the Ride
1. Hydration, hydration, hydration
July in the state of Iowa means it’s going to be hot and proper hydration is a top priority. Most riders have a few water bottles on their bikes and some wear hydration packs on their backs for more liquid storage. Drink constantly throughout the day while riding and take advantage of fill-up stations and free water in the overnight towns.
There are also plenty of post-ride beer gardens to sip on cold beverages after a long day. It’s up to you how much you may want to imbibe. If you do decide to drink, a pro tip is to enjoy responsibly so your next day in the saddle isn’t more difficult than it needs to be.
2. Eating right
It may not be obvious at first glance, but RAGBRAI is also known to be quite the culinary experience. You’ll be able to savor Iowan specialties such as sweet corn, pork chops, and pie— lots and lots of pie. You’ll be burning so many calories each day that you can justify virtually any guilty food pleasure, but you won’t want to ride on a full stomach all the time. Chow down on pecan pie, pork belly, and ice cream in moderation, and you’ll stay fueled up. The small-town food vendors provide delicious grub after a long time in the saddle. And if you’re a snacking cyclist like me, it’s a good idea to bring along a handful of gels or bars during the day.
3. Safe riding and pacing
Having fun during RAGBRAI goes hand in hand with riding safely. With a lot of people out on the road, it can be easy to accidentally cut someone off. To avoid this, make sure you know the rules of the road and use hand signals to communicate your next move to nearby cyclists. RAGBRAI is a recreational ride where riders can roll along at their own pace. Settle into a comfortable pace, and rest assured you’ll be able to make it to that night’s host town in plenty of time.
4. Phones and group communication
One of the most important things to know before riding RAGBRAI is that cell coverage is likely to be spotty. Between the rural country roads and the sheer mass of riders who overcrowd the cell towers, sending text messages feels more like playing the lottery— you can hope you get lucky but you’ll want to have an alternate plan.
Communicate with a team member in which meeting towns you’ll regroup or create a plan for finding each other at the end of the day. Love it or hate it, part of RAGBRAI’s charm is that it forces us to be less reliant on our smartphones and cell phone data. My dad likes to remind me that he completed most of his RAGBRAIs without any of the modern tech we have today— as a cycling-obsessed Iowan teen back in the day, he rode in the second edition back in 1974!
For people who need to get messages out amid the cellular jam, riders recommend attempting on hilltops and when there are relatively few cyclists around. Having your phone handy and accessible on a ROKFORM phone bike mount allows you to try this quickly, without rummaging through your pockets or bike bag. These mounts are compatible with ROKFORM phone cases so you can view your Samsung Galaxy S23, or whatever smartphone you have, as you pedal along.
5. Getting some z’s during RAGBRAI
There are a wide range of sleeping arrangements seen at RAGBRAI. Some spenders book nearby hotel rooms while others stay at local friends’ homes or an RV. Most riders, however, snooze in simple tents pitched on the grass. The temperate nights mean you can get away with using a cheap sleeping bag, a few blankets, or a hammock. If you are a light sleeper, bring a pair of earplugs to block out the sound around you— with so many riders camping out, there’s bound to be a bit of noise. Many seasoned riders recommend bringing a small tent van to stay cool throughout the warm nights.
Feel free to customize and adapt the packing list suggested above to your specific needs. RAGBRAI riders love to put their own spin on the week, including funny costumes and other quirky bits of gear.
While there are booming concerts each night, some riders bring the tunes with them via a portable speaker on their bike to keep the party going! ROKFORM has designed the signature G-ROK Wireless Speaker that’s built for outdoor use. While it was originally intended for golfers, it also works great as a campsite speaker or portable option to place inside a bike bag. The powerful Bluetooth speaker is waterproof, and its durable construction is perfect for summer outdoor activities.
Frequently Asked Questions & More RAGBRAI Tips
How do I register for RAGBRAI?
If you’re asking this question now, you’re a bit late to the party, but don’t worry! You can still purchase weeklong registration for $300 at the RAGBRAI Bike Expo in Sioux City on July 22, the first day of the ride. Normal registration ended on May 15 with lower prices for early birds.
How can I mount my phone to my bicycle?
ROKFORM offers two bike mounts to secure your smartphone on the stem or handlebars: the V4 Pro Series Stem Mount and Sport Series Mount. These compact, sturdy mounts hold your phone within reach and view so you can easily access maps and your favorite biking apps as you ride.
How do I get in shape for RAGBRAI?
The best training advice before RAGBRAI is to go on long rides, working up to back-to-back days of over 50 miles. This way, you can get a feel for completing a couple of long days in a row. For the official RAGBRAI training plan, cycle coach David Ertl has released his 2023 training guide.
ROKFORM: Best Accessories for Cyclists
ROKFORM specializes in rugged smartphone accessories for cyclists, golfers, workers, and more. Get ready with us as we prepare to ride RAGBRAI L! Finalize your gear list with Samsung Galaxy cases, sturdy bike mounts, and other essentials for rolling through the great state of Iowa this summer.
ROKFORM is premium handheld innovation made for those who take action seriously. Our products are designed in California, inspired by necessity and first-hand experience, built to last, backed by real people, and engineered by an experienced team.
Whether you're looking for a premium phone case, versatile mounting system, or functional accessories, ROKFORM has you covered! Visit our showroom in Irvine, California, or contact our 5-star support team with any questions, comments, or concerns.
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