I have completed 23 RAGBRAI’s and 2 PBP’s. My wife has done 20 RAGBRAI’s and supported me on both my PBP rides. This is our brainstorming of a few ways that PBP is like and not like RAGBRAI.
PBP is like a longer version of RAGBRAI. Some of the similarities include: You are in rural areas passing through friendly little towns with residents standing by the road cheering as you ride by sometimes handing out free food and water. The ride is divided into smaller sections, PBP calls them controls, of 50-60 miles with the towns providing entertainment, and refreshments as well as a place for support vehicles to meet their rider. Bike shops are set up along the way to provide roadside assistance. Some of the major intersections are patrolled for traffic. There are great bake goods along the route to satisfy your sweet tooth. Some of the route is flat and some is hilly all though there are more hilly sections. It takes many volunteers to ensure the rides success. It will probably rain at some point during the ride. The rolling back country roads are lined with corn fields. If you have to use the bathroom there is probably a line although the corn fields provide ample stall space. You see all different types of bikes and riders of all shapes and ages. Most of the roads are in pretty good shape but on occasions you can get a really nasty section. There are racers, recreational riders and tourist. Both rides cost about $120 to enter. Sleeping arrangements can be rather crowded. There are plenty of rides to talk to as you ride down the road. Arrows are posted at intersections to guide you along the route. As the ride approaches the end there are a lot of riders who aren’t sitting on the saddle quite a comfortable as they were at the beginning.
The list of ways that PBP is not like RAGBRAI: There is a time limit to make it to each control or your ride is over. PBP is one and a half the distance of RAGBRAI half the number of days. RAGBRAI riding time is 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Riding in the dark at PBP is almost mandatory to finish in the allotted, time but you must have the proper lights and reflective gear. PBP is out and back so no bus ride is involved. If you can’t finish the ride PBP does not provide a sag wagon, you are on your own to find a ride back. For PBP there might be plenty of riders to talk to but you have to find a rider that speaks you language. In France some of the signs are a little hard to read. RAGBRAI takes a different route each year but the PBP route is basically the same every time. The country of France has fields of sunflowers along the route, although by August they don’t look as good as when the Tour-de-France goes by in July.