Thursday, July 22, 2010

Packing for RAGBRAI

As my article on Tuesday indicated, the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is just around the corner. I'm driving to Sioux City on Saturday and the week-long bike ride begins bright and early the next day.

Like any other first-timer, I'm a little nervous packing for RAGBRAI as it draws near. Unfamiliar events, by their very nature, carry with them an unfamiliarity about what to pack. RAGBRAI's website offers tips on the subject, but I've always felt such information is more of a useful guide than it is a definite statement about what to bring and what not to bring. There are obvious items that everyone should pack for something like RAGBRAI (toothbrush, soap and probably a bike), but other items are more optional based on
the person.

Do you need three changes of clothes for the week? More? Less? Do you need an air mattress to sleep? Would you want to read a book with your spare time? Is music an everyday necessity for you? Are you planning on going swimming at any point? Sh
ould you bring a camera?

These are just a few of the questions someone goes through when packing for something they've never done before. It's been a week-long debate for me as well. On RAGBRAI, you're allowed one soft-sided duffel bag to be shipped on a semi truck from town to town, and I've probably packed and re-packed my things a dozen times.

At first, I treated it like I was packing for summer camp all over again, but I came to realize that it's hardly the same thing.

Unlike summer camp, I'm not staying in the same spot every night, so quick re-packability is something to take into consideration. Another difference is in the priorities of the trip. At summer camp, I tried to earn Boy Scout merit badges; here I'm trying to bike across a state and chronicle the trip. So bike equipment and a laptop (makin
g blogging much easier) were priorities over hiking boots and my Boy Scout book. Cost-cutting maneuvers is another aspect to consider, as the majority of RAGBRAI's expenses come from the trip itself rather than the entry fee.

After much deliberation, I've broken down my packing needs into the following categories:

  • Campsite: tent, sleeping back, foam pad, flashlight, pocket knife, 30 ft of rope, bungee cords, lighter, camp chair, large garbage bags (for covering the bike and for a makeshift ground cloth when it rains)
  • Toiletries: shampoo/conditioner, soap, wash cloth, towel, toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, razor, washtub/laundry detergent/brush (saving costs on laundry)
  • Personal: 2 changes of bike clothes, 1 change of campsite clothes/sleeping attire, 5 pairs of socks, rain coat, swimsuit, sunscreen, bug spray
  • First Aid: aloe vera, antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen, Tylenol, assorted band-aids, Ace bandage
  • Bike stuff: 2 spare tubes, tube patch kit, tire levers, bike pump, allen wrench set, pliers, bike helmet, water bottle
  • Miscellaneous: wallet, cell phone, camera, laptop, book, mini football, box of granola bars (saving cost on food while biking), maps, notebook, watch, day pack, mp3 player, assorted chargers, frisbee
After getting all that stuff collected, next comes the task of making it all fit into one duffel bag. Thanks to wonderment of 2 gallon Ziploc bags, I've managed to compress down the majority of items that I'm capable of compressing. Ziploc bags also help water-proof the majority of my belongings, as it's sure to rain at some point during the week. The camp chair and foam pad are too bulky to fit in my bag, but thanks to bungee cords, I'm at least able to attach them to my bag.

There is also the consideration of things to pack on my bike everyday. It's good to be prepared for anything on the road, but it's also important to keep the weight light and the pedaling easy. I'm planning on carrying the following: bike repair items, water bottle, wallet, cell phone, granola bars, and my camera.

After all that planning and packing, here is how everything looks for the trip:

Hopefully I didn't forget anything major.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck. I've always wanted to do RAGBRAI. Seeing your route ends in Dubuque? Good luck, you're going to be in some serious hills.