Ride your bike through the Midwest and Mississippi River Valley!
MIDWEST CYCLOTOURING bicycle tour presents: Ride the Fault Line
What’s included with your Ride the Fault Line bike tour registration
• Rider packets with cue sheets, route and site maps, information about overnight communities, daily schedules, etc.
• Outdoor/indoor camping facilities with restrooms and showers provided in each overnight host community.
• At least two included fruit/snack/Gatorade/water stops each day with additional water stops as required by weather/route conditions.
• Full SAG support to assist you with any mechanical/hydration/nutrition problems you encounter. Services of a bike mechanic at each overnight site and along the route each day.
• Well-marked route with paint, signs, maps and cue sheets and downloadable files (available no later than June 1)
• Route security provided by local law enforcement.
• Great memories and new friendships!
Ride the Fault Line riders’ responsibilities
• Request SAG service only if you are injured or ill and unable to continue, or when mechanical malfunction prevents you from riding. We do not have sufficient SAG resources to transport riders who are simply tired or dissatisfied with route conditions (wind, rain, heat, etc.) Riders who consistently and repeatedly request SAG service may be asked to leave the tour.
• Treat everyone with courtesy and respect, both while riding and in camp.
• Have your bicycle checked and in good condition before you begin the ride.
• Have YOURSELF checked out (get a physical from your doctor) and get in condition well in advance of the tour.
• Ride safely, follow the rules of the road and of RTFL, obey all traffic laws and encourage others to do the same.
• Maintain that positive mental attitude when the unexpected occurs.
• Practice good hygiene at rest stops and in camp.
• Have a wonderful adventure and a great vacation!
Bike tour check-in and packet pickup
Rider registration packets will be distributed during check-in on Saturday 11:00 AM-4:00 PM. DO NOT expect to register early, we will not be ready for you!
All registered riders will receive wristbands when they check in. Wristbands are required to verify eligibility for RTFL supplied services that your registration fee paid for including rest/water stops, outdoor/indoor sleeping facilities, restrooms and showers, ferry crossing, and any activities or discounts provided by host communities/merchants. Your wristband will also indicate whether you paid for the optional meal package. In order for the bands to be acceptably visible/usable, they MUST be worn on your wrist only. Wristbands are not in rider packets, but will be fitted at the registration table. Registered non-riders are also required to wear wristbands.
Non-riders accompanying registered RTFL riders must also register and receive a wristband. There is a reduced charge for non-riders for their access to and use of services in camp.
We realize that sometimes situations change. So cancellations will be permitted if submitted via e-mail or postal mail and received by Midwest Cyclotouring, LLC no later than April 16, 2024. NO refunds can be issued after that date. There is a $175 processing fee for each refund. Service fees will not be refunded. Participants are STRONGLY encouraged to obtain trip interruption/cancellation insurance coverage from a vendor of their choice. We're sorry, but to be fair to those who wisely followed this advice and paid for the insurance, there can be NO EXCEPTIONS to the no refund after April 16 policy.
There is no refund on jerseys or t-shirts that have already been ordered. Pre-ordered merchandise will be mailed to you if you must cancel.
Ride the Fault Line is pleased to offer THREE different types of sleeping accommodations for our participants. First, tent camping. Riders will need to bring their own tent and select a spot in each site’s camping area located on a park or school grounds near shower, toilet and other facilities. Second, for those who prefer it, each site will have air-conditioned indoor floor sleeping space available at no extra charge. Finally, RTFL provides a list of motels/B&B’s for those desiring that type accommodation. RTFL provides this list as a convenience, but we are in no way responsible for the level of service provided by these lodgings.
Some things to consider when picking your tent site each night: drainage in case of rain, downspouts from building roofs, street lights and other lighting, noise from port-a-johns, showers, or other spots with high noise or traffic levels. Experience teaches that most times the best spot will be a compromise between convenience TO facilities and isolation FROM them.
Always keep your tent zipped up completely, whether or not you are inside, to prevent entry of insects and other objectionable denizens of the great outdoors. RTFL RIDER ALERT! Food and food odors attract wildlife! Speaking from experience, raccoons, skunks, and other creatures have no qualms about chewing their way through your seat bag, luggage, or even your tent, with you inside, if they smell food. So NEVER keep food of any kind inside your tent, and take every precaution to keep food odors off your clothes and other gear. Mosquitoes and other insects can be an issue, so it would be prudent to bring and use insect repellent, especially if you plan to tent camp.
The INDOOR camping location at each overnight site is designated as the shelter should severe weather approach the campsite. If lightning and/or strong winds develop or you are alerted to their approach, please evacuate your tent and go inside the building. Most tent-camping ONLY rides do not provide any severe weather shelter for their tent campers, but we feel it is essential.
As mentioned, Ride the Fault Line has secured free air-conditioned indoor camping space in each community. While we fully expect to have room for all indoors, bring a tent as backup since unexpected events may limit or eliminate access to indoor facilities on short notice. When sleeping indoors, keep in mind that ABSOLUTELY NO cycling shoes with exposed cleats may be worn anywhere in any building. No chairs or cots, etc. are allowed on any wood gym floors. Check your overnight site maps or ask ride staff for the location of any provided space for indoor bike parking. While our sites are safe and we have never had a bicycle stolen, bring a lock and use it when parking your bike outdoors at the campsite or if you ride around the towns in the evenings.
Motels/Bed & Breakfasts
Most of our host communities have only a limited supply of motel rooms. If you desire this type accommodation, please contact the properties directly as soon as the finalized route is released in January to have the best chance to secure a room. As a convenience, an updated list of overnight accommodations contact info will be provided on the website in January 2024. RTFL does not attest to the quality of these lodgings, the final choice is yours.
NEW for 2024! YOU will transport your own luggage, gear, and bikes in your own vehicle from the first site to the second, and from the second site to the last. The advantages for you are many and include:
1. NO bag limit! Bring however many bags you want weighing however much YOU are able to carry.
2. No possibility of others causing damage to or the loss of your luggage.
3. Get an earlier start-load your baggage and depart for the next overnight site when YOU are ready-no need to wait until a luggage truck is loaded and ready to leave.
4. Your baggage is ready for you to access as soon as you arrive at the next overnight site-no need to await the arrival of or help to unload a luggage truck.
5. Your baggage will not be unloaded in an unprotected pile if it is raining-YOU control when and where it's unloaded and how dry it stays.
6. SAVE $$$. No need to pay extra to have yourself and your bike transported from one end of the tour to the other before you begin or after you've completed the week.
7. Bring both a road bike for our daily paved routes, AND a gravel-specific bike if you want to try our gravel options!
8. You wake up and it's raining or you overdid it yesterday and the day's mileage is more than you're ready for? No need to be bored or to force yourself to ride. Drive yourself in your "waterproof" vehicle to shopping, museums, movie theatre, or other points of interest.
Using this system allows us to keep costs for vehicles, fuel, etc. down during this inflationary period, as well as minimizing the need for extra support staff, who are just as hard for us to find as they are for other businesses these days!! This in turn allows us to keep registration fees reasonable.
Routes are planned to include a SAG/rest/water stop every 12-18 miles along the route. There are at least two official free fruit/water stops each day. Registered riders wearing wristbands will have access to fruit, water, and possibly other items at these stops. The rest stops are indicated on each day’s route map and any changes will be posted on the information board. It’s possible there will be extra stops along the route operated by community groups and others as fundraisers for their organizations. Please consider patronizing these groups, and remember to have money with you each day. Although rest stops or commercial services should be available at 12-18 mile intervals, unforeseen circumstances may result in a longer distance between services. Always carry two water bottles and some sort of snack. Some of the distances between stops can be lengthy, and convenience stores, etc. are rare on most of our routes. Whenever there’s an opportunity, fill your water bottles. Don’t depend on there being a water stop available on a predictable schedule.
Also, keep in mind germs are spread easily in the typical water/food/rest stop environment. Sanitizing your hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. “Use sanitizer” has become the new refrain of event cyclists after tours suffered outbreaks of illnesses on their rides over the past few years. So, what can you do to try and stay well and prevent others from getting ill on RTFL?
• Remove your gloves at rest and lunch stops.
• Use hand sanitizer frequently, especially before taking food or water at rest and lunch stops, and after using restroom facilities.
• Encourage others to practice good hygiene for both your and their benefit.
RTFL RIDER ALERT: Riders must move themselves and their bicycles completely off the road when they stop, whether for rest stops, lunch stops, photo ops, or simply when you stop to take a drink or rest. Congestion and confusion at rest stops can result in unnecessary accidents. Be especially alert when stopping on, leaving, or re-entering the roadway.
Bike tour ride meals
Depending on the day's route, RTFL will attempt to provide midday food vendors on the route or onsite near or at each overnight stop. These vendors may be available to serve you a quick bite to eat and cold water/beverages when you arrive at the campsite each day. Food options will be determined by the local vendors but could include pizza by the slice, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, lemonade, ice cream, and more. Vendors are free to follow their own schedule and can elect not to show up at the last minute, so have an alternate plan just in case! Host communities may also have fast-food establishments, cafes, restaurants, and maybe a bar & grill or two.
The meals included in the MEAL PLAN will be provided by local caterers or civic organizations in each overnight community. These meals will be served at or within walking/cycling distance of the campsite, or in the case of breakfast, sometimes along the first 5-10 miles of the day’s route. Refer to the campsite and/or maps for the meal locations in each town. Any changes in time/location will be announced at the rider meeting and on the message board. Unless otherwise announced, breakfast will be served from 5:30-7:30 AM and dinner beginning at 6:00 PM daily. On evenings when there is no included evening meal, there will be restaurants nearby, within cycling distance, or accessible by your personal vehicle.
Follow these few simple rules of camp courtesy to ensure a harmonious RTFL experience (for you and everyone else):
• Quiet/lights out time is full dark until dawn (10:00 PM to 6:00 AM) - this means no music, partying or loud talking in the gym/campsite; if you want to talk in person or on your phone, be considerate of those around you who are trying to sleep. If you must “answer the call” during the night, please keep in mind how much noise a slamming toilet door can make, and take care to minimize the disturbance! For reference, during the week of RTFL, local sunrise time is 5:45 AM and local sunset 8:25 PM.
• Remember, zippers make a lot of noise at 5:00 AM. Please be considerate of those still sleeping around you. Pack quietly if you plan to leave early.
• If you’re driving an RV, park away from the camp - especially if you plan to use a generator. Designated RV parking areas will be indicated on the map of each campsite that has them available.
• Pick up trash; both yours and any that may be around you - leave the campground/gym cleaner than when you arrived.
Showers and toilet facilities
Indoor showers or a shower trailer will be available at the each campsite. Indoor restrooms will be augmented by outdoor portable toilets as necessary.
Most nights there will be a rider meeting. We believe this enhances both safety and the overall camaraderie of the group. During this time, we will review any issues from that day’s ride, and offer a preview of the next day’s route and key route features, weather forecasts and points of interest. This will usually occur around 8:00 PM, but exact times will be posted on the official ride message/info board. On some evenings, there will be a program of entertainment/information, as well.
Basic mechanical support is available along the route each day and in camp each afternoon/evening from 4:00 until 6:00 PM. Expect to pay reasonable prices for parts and supplies, while tips will be accepted by the mechanic(s). Major repairs may require a labor charge. Emergency repairs ONLY, this is not the time to have neglected routine maintenance performed. Be sure to have your bike completely checked and any necessary repairs made BEFORE you begin Ride the Fault Line. You don’t want to have to end your tour early if your bicycle has a major breakdown. The ride mechanic will not be equipped or have the time to do major repairs for you. Bring at least two tubes for every size tire on your bike. One year we had a rash of flats one morning and quickly used up all tubes from the mechanic's supplies since many riders did not bring their own spares! If you have an older bike or one that may have hard to find or rare parts, consider bringing along spares for it. You already know if this applies to you!
Bike tour security
Ride the Fault Line organizers remind you that we are not responsible for the safety/security of your bicycle or other personal property. Please use normal caution and care when leaving your camp area unattended, especially outdoors. Don’t leave valuables lying around in full view. Most of our small town communities are very safe, and law enforcement will conduct routine patrols, but don’t tempt fate. Be on the safe side. Bring a lock and whenever you are out of sight of your bicycle, secure it to a substantial object, or at least another bike.
Course hours - 7:30 AM until 3:00 PM daily
SAG and mechanical support will be available daily from 7:30 AM until 3:00 PM. Riders may depart as soon as it is light enough to see and be seen, and all riders should be on the road no later than 8:00 AM. RTFL RIDER ALERT! For greater safety and better visibility early in the morning or during rainy/cloudy conditions any time of day, ALL participants should have AND USE headlights and high visibility flashing taillights. Brightly colored clothing is also suggested for riding in rainy/low-light conditions or if you decide to venture out after dark.
Local law enforcement along the route of Ride the Fault Line has been advised of our presence and will be monitoring both vehicle drivers and cyclists for adherence to the appropriate rules of the road. Bicyclists are subject to citation by law enforcement for violating state law or local ordinances. So be sure to obey all traffic laws and be a good ambassador of the sport of cycling at all times. Take particular care in supervising any child or teen companions. Parents/guardians are responsible for their children and should keep them closely supervised at all times, both on and off the bike.
Always keep the following “rules of the road” in mind:
• RTFL participants must wear an approved helmet at all times when on the bike.
• Use of earbuds/headphones is strongly discouraged. Your sense of hearing is critical to avoiding many hazards.
• Never ride more than two abreast and share the road. Ride single file when other vehicles need to pass. In this region, farm equipment has the right of way!
• Ride in a predictable manner and never ride in the lane for oncoming traffic except when passing safely.
• Do not draft behind motor vehicles.
• Pace-lines are discouraged in general on a group ride such as this, but especially in areas where vehicle traffic volume, including bicycle traffic, is high. Pace-lines should be limited in number to avoid traffic congestion and reduce the potential for accident and injury.
Call out and/or signal, as appropriate, to alert other riders when you:
1) intend to pass (“On your left” or “Passing”),
2) intend to turn,
3) are slowing or stopping (“Slowing,” “Stopping”),
4) become aware of a hazard ahead (“Pothole,” “Glass”, etc.),
5) absolutely DO NOT call “clear” at intersections. It must remain the responsibility of each rider to determine whether it is safe to pass through an intersection based upon his/her immediate observations of the prevailing conditions.
Volunteer and staff drivers offer SAG support along the route each day to transport cyclists as needed due to mechanical problems or injuries. They also carry water and generally have an air pump handy for those repairing a flat along the route. If you need assistance from a SAG, pat your head or helmet. This signal lets passing vehicles know you need help and are not simply waving at passersby. SAG occupants are NOT taken directly to camp when picked up. SAGs are directed to patrol the route until they are full, then proceed to the host community. If you ride a SAG, be prepared to do so for an extended period! Riders are expected to be able to ride the full route each day and to have bicycles that are in good enough condition to withstand a six-day tour. SAGs are not intended for use by riders who are simply tired and should not be viewed as a service to be used for other than mechanical or health related reasons.
Lack of training/conditioning or poorly maintained bicycles are not good reasons for frequent use of the SAG services provided. If you abuse the SAG privilege you may be asked to leave RTFL.
NOTE: If a minor under the age of 18 needs to be transported by a SAG vehicle, they MUST be accompanied by the adult traveling with them.
Mechanical support will be available on the road and in camp. Signal a repair or SAG vehicle by patting the top of your head or helmet to let them know you need assistance.
Cyclists are responsible for any charges associated with parts or repairs. And, even if they don’t ask for payment, expressing your gratitude and “feeding the tip jar” is customary for a job well done!
Weather on the bike tour
We guarantee there will be some! Ride the Fault Line will continue, whether rain or shine, breezes or gusts, so be prepared to keep pedaling in whatever conditions Mother Nature sends our way. Weather in the three state area in mid-June typically ranges from warm to very hot and humid. Temperatures in the mid-upper 90’s are possible. Therefore, be very careful not to become dehydrated. Drink BEFORE you feel thirsty and keep your water bottles filled. When offered at a rest stop, it’s a good idea to drink Gatorade or other sports drink and eat a banana and/or pickle to maintain your electrolyte levels. And be sure to bring and use sunscreen and wear sunglasses! Remember, temperatures, wind speeds, and the likelihood of storms increase as the day progresses, so it’s best to leave as early as you can each day.
Occasional thunderstorms may bring heavy rain, wind, lightning and even hail followed by a sharp, if usually brief, temperature drop. Check the rider information board each evening/morning for the weather forecast, and then use your own judgment to decide whether to take rain gear on the bike that day. When in doubt, be prepared with rain gear that can be put on or taken off as the need arises. Should hazardous weather develop, seek out and take shelter as appropriate. Take cover in a building such as a farm equipment shed, community center, or church. If in the open with no building available and lightning threatens, get off your bike. Its rubber tires provide no insulation/protection from lightning strikes! Squat with your feet and knees close together, balance on the balls of your feet, bend forward and cover the back of your neck with your arms. Make yourself as small a target as possible with a minimal portion of your body touching the ground. Keep your helmet on as protection from hail or flying objects.
In the event a tornado is approaching and you’re in the open, do not try to outrun the storm on your bike! Since most injuries in a tornado are caused by flying debris, use the available time to find a low area away from trees that is unlikely to flood and lie flat on the ground. Again, keep your helmet on as protection from hail or flying objects. Tornadoes usually, but not always, will move from southwest to northeast.
On the route, your first action would be to flag down a SAG vehicle, other riders, or any law enforcement, motorist or resident along the route. To signal distress to an oncoming SAG vehicle, pat the top of your head or helmet with your hand. An advantage of our very flat terrain is that most areas of the route will have adequate cell phone coverage. If conditions seem to warrant, go ahead and contact first responders by dialing 911. Another choice? Dialing *55 on your cell phone will usually connect you with the local state police/highway patrol. If a rider is injured and cannot be safely moved from the road, direct traffic to prevent further accident or injury. Administer first aid if you are able/qualified and await assistance. For emergencies in camp, either take the injured party to or send someone to the community information table for assistance, or, if unavailable and the situation seems to warrant, call 911.
You should carry your driver’s license and medical insurance card, or photo copies of them, with you on your person. You are responsible for any charges associated with medical care you receive while on tour. A number of commercial ID products are available ranging from bracelets to shoe tags. Any ID and medical information that is ON YOUR PERSON will be more likely found in the event of an accident than will information in a bike bag. One of these ID products can be a very worthwhile investment. Information should include your full name, contact information for someone who is NOT on the ride with you, blood type, drug allergies, and any unique medical conditions that might affect treatment decisions such as heart conditions, diabetes, etc. Parents and/or guardians traveling with minors should have appropriate information available identifying them as authorized to make care decisions on behalf of the minor. You should carry this information with you in addition to your own ID information.
PREPARATION-FOR YOU AND YOUR BIKE
We expect all riders to ride the full route each day on RTFL. Though SAGs are provided, as mentioned previously, they are intended for riders who become injured or who have mechanical problems. Our expectation is that riders and their bicycles arrive in good enough condition to complete each of the seven days of RTFL.
Whether RTFL is your first or 21st multi-day tour, getting yourself ready for the ride is key to making it an enjoyable experience. For starters, be sure you’ve had a recent physical exam by your family physician. And that reminds us-it’s a good idea to get a dental checkup, too. You don’t want to wind up with a sudden toothache while on a bike tour! Once cleared for training, don’t go at it full-bore if you’ve not been regularly active. Increase your time and effort gradually. Avoid focusing solely on building mileage at the expense of a well-rounded program that includes strength, flexibility, endurance, nutrition, hydration and rest.
That said, you do need to ride, ride, and ride some more! There’s no substitute for seat time to accustom your backside to the saddle. While 300+ miles may seem like a lot, training correctly will ensure that after each day’s ride, even though you may be tired, you’ll be ready for more the next morning. Plan on increasing your mileage by 10% to 15% each week over the course of your training. Begin with shorter rides back-to-back, and increase to longer days in the saddle. You should eventually work up to some metric century (62 mile) distances since a couple of our days will be this long or slightly longer. While RTFL’s claim to fame is our mostly flat route, riding at least some hills will help your ability to ride into headwinds, which there’s a good chance you’ll get to do once or twice during the week! If possible, ride with others to get prepared for sharing the road with other cyclists. Many books and articles have been written on the subject of training for cyclists. If you have doubts about your ability, or questions about how to train, you are encouraged to research the topic on-line or at your local book or bike shop.
Get your bike tuned up and adjusted to fit you before beginning to train. Efficient position and good body alignment will help you feel more comfortable. Poor fit is more painful than poor training. To have your bike fitted professionally, contact a bicycle shop in your area.
Schedule a tune-up with your local shop several weeks before you leave on the ride. Don’t wait until the last minute. You want to have a trouble-free riding adventure! Make sure to have them check the condition and adjustment of brake pads, brake cables and gear cables as well as bearing adjustments in your hubs, headset and bottom bracket. Tires should be checked for excessive wear and cuts and nicks. We are AMAZED each year at the number of participants who arrive with tires in such bad condition that they either won't hold air or suffer a blowout as soon as they are inflated! Spokes should be checked for tightness and wheels for true. Speaking again from personal experience, carbon fiber frames need to be checked for cracks, even if they have not been in a fall or collision, but especially if they have been. As mentioned earlier, consider getting and packing spares for any unusual or hard to find parts your bike may use, and don’t forget the spare tubes!
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A “RIDE THE FAULT LINE” CYCLIST
6:00 AM: Morning coffee service available (most sites).
6:30 -8:00 AM: Breakfast- host communities will provide your included breakfast in or near the camp area beginning at 6:30 AM.
5:45 AM: Sunrise on the ride route the week of RTFL. Common sense as well as local laws dictate that riders who leave before sunrise must have/use head and tail lights. Keep in mind if you leave early and/or ride fast, rest stops may not be ready for you.
7:30 AM -3:00 PM: Route is open. SAGs patrol the route to assist those with injuries or mechanical difficulty. Riders are EXPECTED to be able to ride the full route each of the seven days of RTFL. SAG support is only for assistance in the event of injury, illness, or mechanical problems.
8:00 AM: All riders should be on the route.
Noon-6:00 PM: On travel days, before setting up your tent/indoor site, be sure to consult your site map and check site signage for permissible locations/out-of-bounds areas.
Noon-5:00 PM: Local community information table (where offered) staffed for assistance and direction to attractions, events, & food. Riders are encouraged to explore and experience everything the local communities are offering!
1:00-8:00 PM: Shower trailer open on layover days. Schedule for the two moving days will be posted at registration.
4:00 -6:00 PM: Bicycle repair services available near camping area. Tips appreciated!
6:00 -7:00 PM: Meal plan dinner available in host communities. Refer to the site maps and the message/info board for the location of the included dinner and breakfast meals, or for the locations of local restaurants.
8:00 PM: (time approximate-see message/info board for exact time) Many nights-rider meeting with announcements and more. The location for this will be shown on your site map for each community as well as posted on the information board. Any changes in route or stops for the next day are shared along with other valuable information.
10:00 PM-6:00 AM: Quiet/lights out hours in camping areas, inside and out. When the sun goes down in the camping area it generally gets pretty quiet very quickly. Early to bed-early to rise is the best philosophy for a bike tour! Sunset the week of RTFL is 8:25 PM.
What to include?
The bike tourist’s biggest dilemma-what should I pack? Everyone has their own ideas about what’s essential and what may be optional. Only you can prepare a list that’s right for you. But with that in mind, here are some guidelines to consider:
*YOU are the baggage handler! Give thought to how much weight you are willing/able to carry/move when you are deciding what to bring!
*If planning to tent camp, consider that all your gear must fit inside the tent overnight, or excess taken back to your vehicle, if you want it to be protected from heavy dew or rain.
*If planning to camp indoors, your fellow riders may object to your taking up too much space with excessive amounts of baggage, personal items, etc.
Offered below, and primarily for beginning bike tourists, is a list of items you might want to consider bringing. This is merely a list of suggested items to consider, YOU must make the final decisions on what to bring.