Not so short, shorter day – RAGBRAI Day 3

Although Day 3 was shorter than the previous two days, at a mere 109 km, it wasn’t as short as we had hoped and it got hot (over 40 Deg C at one point).

As we approached Clear Lake, we were both very warm. Scott suggested jumping off the route and following along the lakeshore (thank you GPS maps), so we took a detour. Less than 500 meters off the route we found a park with beach access to the Lake! Quickly, we removed helmets, shoes, and electronics and jumped in the lake to cool off.  Relief!  We were hot enough that the chill of the lake was a comfort, and Becky dove right in – almost unheard-of!  The cool-off gave Becky that boost she needed to make the final journey into town and our campsite (which turned out to be an additional 15 km away).

Our campsite was in the middle of an industrial park, several kilometers from downtown.  After setting up our tent and showering, we decided to head downtown for food.  Becky really didn’t want to get back on the bikes again – plus the bikes were being used as a laundry drying rack, so at first, we decided to hitch a ride. After 10 minutes of unsuccessfully sticking out our thumbs, we gave up and headed to the shuttle bus stop. The shuttle came by pretty quickly, and we were soon dropped off at the edge of downtown. Note: most towns provided shuttle service for a donation. All our experiences with shuttles were good – but we did not stay out too late. Those who were out later in the evening often ran into lines at the shuttle stops.

We didn’t do so well on the dinner front. We got to town too late for a church dinner, and there didn’t seem to be many other local options.  We found out later that there was only one church dinner and it ran out of food at 5 pm. Fortunately, the church was still open (and had Internet and A/C), so we hung around there for a few minutes before venturing out for food. We waited in line for 45 minutes to get a fajita dinner from one of the vendors, but it was worth it.  Filling, and quite a bit better than the ‘walking tacos’ we had yesterday.  Has anyone heard of a Walking Taco?  We hadn’t.  For the uninitiated, it is a (small) bag of Dorito chips, opened and filled with ground beef, grated cheese, lettuce and salsa.  Neither haute cuisine nor healthy, but it did fill the void in our stomachs.  The fajita dinner still wasn’t up to Texas standards, but was much better than a Walking Taco. In hindsight, we would have done better to go to the grocery store and picked up dinner there.

The Clear Lake RAGBRAI committee had set up a fenced area downtown to watch the entertainment. It was free to access if you had a wristband, and $5 for those without. We discovered that the beer was cheaper at the V.F.W. (Canadian Legion equivalent) outside the fenced area, so there wasn’t much benefit to being inside other than a clear view of the overly loud band on stage.  Perhaps we’re getting a bit old…

Scott discovered that his arms got rather sunburned today. We stopped by the first aid truck to see if they had any recommendations. They sprayed on some Solarcaine, which didn’t really do much, and they recommended Tylenol and gave him a few packets. We were surprised that the first aid folks were able to give out drug samples (they had Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve).

Laundry is proving to be a challenge for us. We usually wash out our cycling shorts and a few other clothes items every day. With the long riding days, we aren’t getting in early enough to have them dry before night sets in, and the overnight dews mean that things get wetter overnight. We are left with hanging our shorts and other laundry off the back of our bikes to dry. This is challenging since we are riding without panniers. We receive as many comments about the laundry hanging off on our bikes as our Canadian flags.

For Becky, today was definitely a low point in the RAGBRAI experience. She is struggling with finding food that agrees with her body, and the basic camp chores such as laundry are taking too much time and energy.

RAGBRAI TIP: Bring clothes pegs and a line for hanging laundry or 7 complete sets of cycling clothes.

RAGBRAI TIP: Bring a mesh bag for your tent. It is almost always wet in the morning when it needs to be packed up. If you store it in a mesh bag, it might be dry by the time you pick it up at the end of the day.  So far, this has worked well for us.

Can you find Becky in the sea of bikes?

There were a disproportionate number of ‘bents on RAGBRAI, but what was especially neat to see what the number of girls on ‘bents.

Soy bean fields and windmills – typical Iowa scenery.

Entering town at the end of the day usually involved going under an arch and today we even got a cheering section.


  • Algona  to Clear Lake (PDF route map).
  • Reported as 59.9 miles (96 km).
  • We rode 109 km to campsite.
  • Route ride time 6h 15 min.
  • Total: 375 km.
  • Costs: $48 food

2 thoughts on “Not so short, shorter day – RAGBRAI Day 3”

  1. Hey Scott and Becky,

    When you mean you stripped off electronics does that mean you bought a tandem talk/buddy system?

  2. No, I wear a GPS around my neck, which although nominally waterproof, I prefer not to swim in. We generally ride close enough together that we don’t need an intercom/FRS system.

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