The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Gluten Free Food?


I will be riding this year with my 14 year old son on our tandem and he has celiac disease, and can not eat anything with gluten. Does anyone have experiance with this on RAGBRAI? Any suggestions on how to plan for this would be appreciated. In our experiance when we travel small towns can be a probelm. This years ride is going to be alot of small towns so I have some concern. Do any of the week long traveling food vendors offer Gluten Free options?

15 Replies

Profile photo of Sunflower
Sunflower, January 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

I don’t remember any vendors calling attention to gluten-free food although I bet there is something along those lines.

Unfortunately RAGBRAI can often be like eating at the County Fair all week long. Its one of my least favorite things about RAGBRAI. By Wednesday I can’t take another burger wrapped in wax paper being fetched from a cooler.

When I was pulling my son in a trailer we would get so far behind the locusts that on more than one occasion we got to town too late to get a proper meal.

My response was to haul all my own food and I like doing it that way now. I don’t have to wait in line for soggy salad and crappy spaghetti anymore.

Since you do have a serious constraint on diet I would plan on being supported and taking your own food. Depending on a gluten free meal to appear when you need it is not a strategy.


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Sandaltan, January 29, 2014 at 2:42 pm

CarboHut will be on the route, good for lunches.



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SFC JKL2, January 29, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Hyvee is awesome but I’m not sure how much we will see them on the “small town” route this year.


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Jack, January 29, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Under the ‘store’ tab click on ‘store finder’

hy-vee stores in Okoboji, Mason City, Waverly,

Great choice of food, good prices, great service.


Profile photo of Cynful Smokers BBQ
Cynful Smokers BBQ, January 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm

We plan to serve five of the seven days in the pass through towns or meeting towns. Our pulled pork is made gulten free, and we don’t use any gluten in our spices or rubs. We also always keep a bottle of gluten free BBQ sauce with us. It is a very good sauce. We have served people that can’t eat anything Gluten each of the past four years. Look for the Big BBQ sign, and follow the smoker. Friend us on facebook, twitter or instagram or hit up our website for more information.

Pit Master
Cynful Smokers BBQ


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SFC JKL2, January 30, 2014 at 7:44 pm

I’m not gluten free, but I’ll second cynful smokers. I’ve eaten several of their meals the last couple years.


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zabo, January 31, 2014 at 12:39 am

I second Carbo Hut. I have a bad stomach and food allergies. Carbo Hut serves high quality, healthy food, but they are available at different times in different towns…you have to look for them or contact them in advance to find where they will be.

I would recommend that you try to plan your culinary schedule in advance with an available reserve just in case. Look for the list of vendors on the website (probably to be published later…I haven’t checked) or contact Linda Smuck at the Register to see if you can get more intel. If she can’t help you, you can contact the pass through towns for more info on restaurants later in the season.

Despite the challenge, it is manageable. Please…forge ahead!! You and your child will absolutely not regret it, but you need to put in a little extra time for preparation. You have months to plan for this and preparation can be fun in itself.


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Lisa, February 11, 2014 at 2:07 am

I own a restaurant in Okoboji called the Outrigger. Im not quite sure what gluten free consists of but we will be open for all riders to stop in for a great meal. Sunday afternoon we will be offering a pasta dinner or either Alfredo or Spaghetti or you can come inside for a great selection of foods from seafood, steaks, sandwiches, salads, etc. Monday morning we will be set up outside for breakfast. We are located in the strip mall where the Okoboji Post office is, right behind Kum-n-Go and also next to the bike shop. Our community is excited to host Ragbrai this year and look forward to see you all. Have a great ride!


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Ragbrai Nation, February 11, 2014 at 4:29 am

Riders would like more contol over portion size. I don’t mind paying an exorbitant amount for meals but some of us guys are going to need up to 2000 calories per sitting to sustain this gig for 7 days. Just sayin.


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Ben.A, February 13, 2014 at 9:00 pm

I was riding last year and I have gluten free diet. I ate mostly burritos with rice and stop in greoceries like Hy-vee to get food and they had some gluten free stuff. But I carry some snacks and chips in my luggage in case for my evenings.

I think you should have some gluten free stuff carrying with with bags in case of issues with small towns.

Good luck!


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ExBMX, May 25, 2014 at 9:37 pm

My wife and I certainly feel your pain in this regard. As you no doubt know, trust is a major issue. Many well-meaning people confuse “healthy/wholesome/organic” with

    truely gluten-free

, or don’t understand the full extent of cross-contamination.
Nor should they! 🙂 It’s their job to live it up for the rest of us that can’t 😀

Depending on your needed level of safely (if you need separate prep areas or dedicated cookware for instance) the sad news is that you can’t really count on many vendors or restaurants (although I’m guessing this isn’t anything new to you). (BTW @mark of Cynful Smokers BBQ – this is great news!)

What we are doing is bringing a cooler full of food (in the sag) for the week (nearly). We also plan to shop for foods along the way. I will tell you (as a Iowa native) that Hy-Vee (the area food store) has been very responsive to celiac needs. There’s lots of their cheaper store-brand foods that are good to go (here’s a product list:

For during the ride definitely bring along gluten-free snacks (there’s so many great recipes online. here’s one that’s kinda close to one we use for energy bars:

Anything we find and trust along the way will just be icing on the cake – made all the sweeter because of the thrill of the hunt 🙂


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George A, May 27, 2014 at 10:57 am

Thanks ExBMX. I have plans to do just as you say, having a cooler with a bunch of options. Sounds like we will be stopping at Hy_Vee’s along the way as well. We are used to being self contained and will be to fill in any void. There are many things we eat that are similar to what I used to take along on rides before realizing I had gluten allergies so we will just be carring them along with us.

Just hoping we find a meal or two each day along the way that we can eat for a change of pace.

What would really put the trip over the top is to find Gluten Free pie, and one of the following beers, Omission, New Planet, or Two Brothers Prairie Path.

Thanks to all for your tips. Looking forward to a great ride in July.


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patrsnw, June 9, 2014 at 11:22 am

There’s a whole bunch of gluten-free food on RAGBRAI. It’s called meat. Many places also have fruit, corn, or rice.


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Mary, June 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Semi-homemade gluten free pie on Ragbrai would be SO wonderful!!! Ragbrai pie makers—-I see packaged mixes on the store shelves for making gluten free pie crusts, just add a gluten free filling, and you would make a LOT of gluten free Ragbrai riders very happy!!!


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Lone Rocker, June 14, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Would you be coming on the Loop to Lone Rock? We will be having pork loin, sweet corn and pies. If I knew what pie you liked I could try to make a gluten free one for you. There also will be hard boiled eggs, string cheese, bananas and apples. Let us know if you are going to “Rock The Loop” with us in Lone Rock and I will try to set you up. Looking forward to seeing the RAGBRAIers come to Lone Rock!!


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