FAQ. You have questions, we have answers.
How hard are the Rambles? The Rambles are challenging and not something to ride off the couch. Don’t let the “supported” moniker fool you. The roads are long, steep and desolate. You’ll be challenged even if you consider yourself accomplished on a bicycle. You’re still carrying gear, and you’re still riding 200 plus miles over an average of 20K feet of climbing. On gravel. Here’s a bit of real-talk: don’t come on the rides if you haven’t been riding. As much as I want you to, don’t. If you can’t ride 75 miles at a time, it’ll be hard and you won’t enjoy yourself. You should also be able to do this for three consecutive days. 10 mph is the golden mean that each Ramble Ride seems to confirm. That means 8-10 hours a day on a bike including stops. Challenging but not undoable. Summer events have the benefit of extra hours of light. Fall events not so much. Keep that in mind. Two hours from dinner, vehicles push forward and sweep everyone more than 20 miles from the end. This is for safety and to ensure we’re all in camp for the evening at a decent hour. If you have ANY questions about your ability to do these rides, please reach out.
Can my underage kids come? Sorry, no. Our minimum age is 18.
Can I get a refund? Things come up. We get it. Because we book and permit far in advance and this is based on participation, we can’t offer a full refund but can offer a 50% refund up to 90 days prior to an event. Under 90 days we cannot refund your entry but can transfer your registration to another person. Under 30 days, we don’t offer any transfers. Transfers are for the year of the purchased event only. We also cannot refund in the event of a natural disaster or other event-ending situation such as a fire prior to an event. We reserve the right to cancel an event, mid-ride in the case of a life-threatening or safety issue (ie. snowstorm, wildfire, etc.).
Can my spouse / friend / significant-other carry my gear? No. This is a bikepacking event. Not a bike porter event. You carry your own gear.
What type of gear should I carry? What you might carry, depends a lot on your comfort level. We have a post on what most folks bring. Minimally, most riders have a frame bag, and either a handlebar bag or seat bag for extra clothes, food, etc. The very hardy get most of their gear in their camp bag so can have very little on their bikes. Others what more challege and will pack everything on thier bikes. Over the years, we’ve placed fewer expectations on this aspect of the experience. It’s your ride, ride it as you’d like and able to. We will have some rental gear for 2020 so make sure to sign up for our mailing list for more information as it becomes available.
Can I ride an ebike? This is becoming an increasingly popular question. I can certainly see that for some, a pedal assist would make this event achievable. We’re looking into it but currently, no ebikes.
Can my family/friends visit me during the event? No. While the roads are public, and not closed, any additional traffic just creates safety concerns for the riders, staff, and folks in general. We also use available camp parking for all event vehicles. NO PERSONAL VEHICLES on the route or in camp. The exception is the final dinner if you’ve purchased a family/friend meal ticket.
Tell me about this camp bag. The camp bag is meant to supplement your gear for the trip. Keep it to 80 liters or less in size. What you put in it is up to you, but I have a post about what I put in mine. Summer Rambles, you can get away with less, but Spring or Fall Rambles might require you to have more clothing. We also don’t care how you split your gear. If you can stuff your tent in the camp bag, great. But regardless of what you bring, it needs to fit either on your bike or your 80 liters or less camp bag.
What type of bike do you recommend? We’re a fan of “Run what you Brung” so will always recommend the bike you feel most comfortable and confident on as long as it has a minimum of 38c tire width. We have all sorts of bikes on the Rambles from Single Speeds, Klunkers, Hard Tail and Full Suspension MTBs, Gravel Bikes, Fat Bikes, etc. Low gearing is best and if you have multiple bikes, bring the one with the lowest gearing. Make sure to have it checked out by a competent mechanic before the ride, and carry tools and items for general repair as you might wait a while for a sag vehicle. We will have a fleet of demo Ibis Hakka MX that you can rent for a minimal charge, and these will be available first come, first served.
I’d LOVE to do this ride but can’t afford it at this time. You’re in luck. We do offer a limited number of work-your-ways. This means if you volunteer for a Ramble, we’ll let you enter another for free. Volunteering is a lot of work, but rewarding. We need all sorts of skills and you might work at camp, or come along in a support vehicle or maybe even help support on your motorcycle. If this might interest you, reach out. Email ramblerides (at) gmail.com for more information or sign up here.
Do you offer food for restrictive or non-meat diets? We do. We always have a vegetarian/vegan offering based on those that identify their need at registration. (make sure to add your preference when registering). We also make sure that if you have an allergy or other dietary need that we accommodate you. Make sure to click the appropriate checkbox at checkout. Before an event, our chef will reach out to everyone to confirm and get more information if needed.
What are meals like? While many riders do bring some specific ride food like nuts, or other items they personally love, we try to take care of everything else. Breakfast has a lot of hearty items plus grab-and-go items for those that don’t like to eat first thing. And coffee…lots of coffee. Every morning we lay out a spread of ride food that you can grab in addition to breakfast items. Lunch is lighter and consists of sandwiches, fruit and smaller items that are easy to eat, carry and won’t bog you down mid-ride. There are always one or two additional aid stations and a “surprise and delight” stop that riders always love coming across. Dinners are full-on fares and you won’t go hungry. And if you are, just ask for something else. Don’t forget your mess kit, however: cup, bowl or plate, and utensils.
What does “partially supported” mean? The intent of the Ramble Rides is to give you a sense of adventure. An average day is 8-10 hours on the bike in some desolate areas. This includes stops and lunch. Most riders only see the motorcycle support folks, so that means you’re riding mostly on your own. There is a lead vehicle marking the day’s course, a follow vehicle sweeping the course and minimally one motorcycle support riding up and down the event in addition to aid station vehicles. For larger events, we’ll have two to three motorcycle riders with food, water, and some tools. Each ride has medical support on route. In case of an emergency, they can be called to any location on the route to assess and support as needed. Check out our section on what to bring for more info.
What are camps like? Camping is a mix of USFS campgrounds, and private facilies such as the KOA, Sky Ranch, and Walden city park. Power is limited, but generally available. Toilets are available and are either a pit type or porta-potty. Walden, KOA and Sky Ranch have regular flush facilities and showers. USFS campgrounds do not have showers, but most have access to a water source that depending on weather you can get it. Walden, Steamboat Springs, and Sky Ranch do have other non-camping options but we don’t book or facilitate. It’s up to you to book these accommodations if you wish. We don’t provide any reduction in registration if you do.
What safety precautions do you have? Having an accepted operations and safety plan is part of our permit process that must be approved by USFS, and the counties we travel through. Staff carry satellite communication on route in addition to GSMR radios. We have two nurses and several staff that hold NOLS Wilderness Safety certifications in additon to a well stocked first aid supply both at camp and on the route. If you have a concern, please reach out. If you have an issue you’re concerned about, please ask. We’ve managed many complex medical issues throughout the years for guests and ensured they’ve had a great and safe experience.
Why are the field limits so small? A lot of folks wonder why we limit the number of riders on each ride. First, taking riders over 200 miles for four days across several mountain ranges, all with varying levels of abilities is daunting. Second, we want to travel as lightly as possible and not overwhelm the campsites, communities, and landscapes we visit. Lastly, we want everyone to feel like they got to know everyone on the ride. Talk with past riders and the overwhelming sense of camaraderie is something everyone feels. That’s the magic of the Rambles: folks of all abilities and experiences coming together over four days of a shared adventure. Our final dinner always feels more like a family meal. Come ride with us and see what I mean.
How do you transport people and bikes on one way Rambles? For Rambles that are point to point, we use motor coaches to transport guests. These are full size busses with restrooms, AC and plenty of room. Bikes are transported via box truck. We take every precaution to ensure your bike arrives safely; using blankets between each and fitting them as tightly as possible for transport. However, it’s not uncommon for scuffs or scratches to occur, whether from the ride or shifting enroute. If you’re uncomfortable with this process, please reach out to us before signing up.