by Mark Wyatt, Executive Director – Iowa Bicycle Coalition
The most fun on RAGBRAI comes from the people. You can ride across Iowa whenever you want, but only during one week, can you ride with 10,000 friends. Keep in mind that 30% of the riders are new and have never ridden in a crowd this large before. There are a few key tips to avoid crashes, like do the RIGHT riding.
When stopping along the RAGBRAI routes, let those behind know of your plans. Make sure no bicycles or motor vehicles are immediately behind you when you stop. Stop at the right edge of the roadway and immediately move to the shoulder. Stay clear of the roadway, and park completely off of the roadway to make repairs, rest, visit, etc. Stopping is especially dangerous at the crest of a hill or on a curve, so be careful.
With this many people, there is no room to bob and weave your way down the road. Keep in a straight line. Be predictable to others riding nearby.
Pacelines and drafting is very dangerous. Drafting is riding close enough to another rider that you receive an advantage in efficiency from the turbulence of the front rider. When you ride that close to another rider, you lose the ability to see road defects and other riders. Worse, if you cross wheels, you will likely crash and so with others around you. The RAGBRAI ambulance crew describes pacelines similar to handgrenades. When one rider crashes, it causes injuries for multiple riders.
Likewise, drafting vehicles is also dangerous and will not be tolerated on RAGBRAI.
Ride to the right and leave room for others to pass on your left. I know that everybody thinks they are in the fast lane, but you usually are not. Ride towards the right side as soon as you can.
When turning, turn left from the center of the roadway. This will prevent someone from trying to pass on your left as you are turning left. This may require you to signal turning left several times. If you are turning right, turn right from the right side of the roadway.
Have fun and avoid crashes with the RIGHT Riding. If you are not riding, get completely off from the roadway. Avoid pacelines and drafting – it’s just too dangerous. Left turns from center lines, right turns from right side. Finally, keep to the right side of the road to help everybody out.
If you are going to ride RAGBRAI safely, you are going to keep in mind the following safety tips:
- The RIGHT stuff.
- The RIGHT gear.
- The RIGHT communications.
- The RIGHT riding.
- The legal RIGHT.
- The RIGHT frame of mind.
- The RIGHT abilities
- The RIGHT attitude
- The RIGHT attention.
- The RIGHT condition
Mark Wyatt is the executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition and the statewide RIDE RIGHT chair. Mark is also a League Cycling Instructor (LCI), board member for the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking. More information about the Iowa Bicycle Coalition can be found at www.iowabicyclecoalition.org.