The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

End town festivities

I’ll be riding RAGBRAI for the first time in 2013, my son and I are coming from San Diego to enjoy this great bike ride. I’m wondering what to expect in Ft. Madison at the end of the ride. My wife is picking us up there after driving from Omaha airport that day. Is there some kind of end-of-the-ride festival or opportunity to relax for a few hours, talk to other riders, get some food and drink, etc.? Will there be anywhere to store a couple bicycles and bags for a few hours? PBV will be caring for us during the ride but I think we’ll be on our own at the end of the ride.

8 Replies

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Pdiddly, February 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm

There will be plenty to do and enjoy at the end town. The biggest logistic concern for you is co-ordinating your pick-up with all the other people being picked up. It can get a bit conjested. But arranging a location to meet away from where all the festivities are will cure that. I don’t think you will have any problem with letting your bikes hang around for the few hours you are waiting. You are going to dig the ride and experience. My advice is to linger a bit longer in the towns and enjoy the people. That’s my goal for my 2nd ride. I think I could have enjoyed the pass through towns more but it was so hot last year I was concerned I might melt if I lingered too long in any one spot! Don’t forget to dip your rear wheel in the Mighty Mo when you start and the front in the Muddy Miss when you finish. Tradition!


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Iceman, February 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I’m curious if you considered flying into Quad Cities Airport? We usually fly into Omaha because from where we live it’s usually cheaper but we made an exception several years ago when LeClair was the ending city. We got a hotel in LeClair, lounged for a change in the ending city and flew back on Sunday. Tht last day of RAGBRAI can be really hectic and that was a nice change.


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jwsknk, February 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm

By 2:00 most of the riders will probably be in. by 4-5 most people gon, we always try to get back to Ames by 8-8:30 so we are not unloading in the dark. Wherever the dip site is all the vendors that have been along for the week will be set up. There is usually some kind of “closing” ceremony. What time is your wife getting in? long drive from Omaha, cut a couple hours off by flying into DM, maybe 3 into Quad cities. Or did you get round trip tickes in\out of Omaha? What would be cool for her to see is if she can get in early and park where PBT will be unloading, ten take a chair and go watch the teams\clubs come in. A lot of them try to come in as one bu group so there might be 100 Air Force people all together, or 100 Skunks or Tall Dogs.


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Scott J, February 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions. Since we are driving out from San Diego it really makes sense to leave the car at the Omaha airport and travel the short distance to the start point by bike or bus. I can drop all our stuff at the campground on Saturday and then return to the airport parking. My wife will fly into Omaha later in the week and drive over to Ft. Madison. Easier for me and more driving for her I suppose. We’ll figure out something at the end – I’ll tell her to check all the beer gardens until she finds me. I guess my years in California are showing with the worry about leaving bikes and bags unattended. Around here anything not chained and booby-trapped walks away inside 10 minutes. There are many things I miss about the Midwest – grew up in Missouri. Looking forward to a ride across Iowa.
P.S. I don’t miss the snow this week.


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jwsknk, February 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Okay that makes sense. Drive to CB and set up tent in campground and throw stuff in, drive back to the airport with bike and ride back across cool Bob Kerry Pedestrian bridge. Might as Will dip tires on Nebraska side, was easier access last time ans Iowa will be in the background. State line us painted on bridge so you can stand in both states for a picture too.


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knees36, February 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

For many years now I have taken my time on the last day…soaking up another RAGBRAI…and have my wife pick me up by car on Sunday. (The ending town almost always has a campground set aside for riders who choose this option.) That way us bikers can enjoy a “Saturday night on the town” at the end of the ride. Sometimes a band will be playing for locals and riders alike at a beer tent while other times one can just go to a local establishment for their beverages and entertainment. Sometimes I ride across the Mississippi on Sunday and have my wife pick me up somewhere in Illinois in one of the Mississippi River towns…another nice way to end the ride. The above may not be what you’re looking for but it seems that the DM Register’s baggage trucks stick around into the later Saturday afternoon hours for riders getting into town at the end of the week. I suggest you contact them for their policy on the exact hours and location where you can pick up your gear. Have a great ride across Iowa. Cheers. LP


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bradlyman, March 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm

One word, AMTRAK.


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Iceman, March 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I’m one of those people who are always in a hurry on the last day. I’ve always used PBV and I like to catch their early bus back to Omaha to the airport. And when we drive to the ending town, we always want to get on the road early to knock out a good chunk of our 1,000 + mile drive back home. So, I never really have taken the time to enjoy the end town and I regret that.

Which brings up a point about which I have always wondered. Other than tradition (and the supposed tendency of the winds to primarily go west to east), why has RAGBRAI never tried an east to west route? This gets discussed every year on this Forum and I have heard it all I think. But to me the bottom line still comes down to the DMR and whether they want to be fair to the towns on the eastern side of Iowa (especially those on the Mississippi). They should do an east to west route.


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