Question on the Expo exhibitors for Saturday at the start town?? With several thousand people setting up camps I’m surprised that the Expo doesn’t have any camping exhibitors with the newest and latest camping gear, have only done a few Ragbrai so maybe it was tried by the exhibitors didn’t work out??
Hammer, I think you’ve nailed it! Okay, someone had to say it. Seriously, given the time we spend in camp, sleeping or otherwise, there is a huge market for items that would make a riders life easier. The challenge of RAGBRAI doesn’t end when you get off the bike.
Having said that, the vendors would have to offer something more catered to bicycle touring, not just camping in general.
While I agree that having a vendor that has camping gear would be great I am not so sure about catering to Bicycle touring. I would not catagorize the typical RAGBRAI rider as someone who would bicycle tour, and one that would need gear to do that. The success of charters like PBV and others that take care of almost everything except for pedeling the bike for you are as far as you can get from true bicycle touring, and their paying customers are good examples of who really makes up RAGBRAI.
The REI catalog receives a big welcome upon arrival at this house and the Little Stoker has been an REI member for many years. We have purchased many REI products in the past and they would certainly draw a crowd if they would attend the RAGBRAI Expo.
When I said bicycle touring, by no means am I talking self contained; not that there is anything wrong with that. Despite the popularity of PBV, Brancel and the other all inclusive charters; not that there is anything wrong with that, the vast majority of riders are bringing there own gear. It may be hauled by the DMR, your Team, or another Charter. The common thread is there are any number of products out there that would make our lives easier in camp.
At least for the people who really make up RAGBRAI.
I agree that a camping exhibitor focused on biking touring gear would have some appeal. Adventure Cycling Association sells alot of bike touring stuff online and I think many of their products would appeal to Ragbrai riders, even if they are not touring with panniers or a trailer. The issue with most bike specific camping gear is that it tends to be very light and compact and consequently very expensive. Whether that would relate to sales on Ragbrai is an interesting question.