RAGBRAI XLIX registration is now open!

2019 RAGBRAI XLVII Survey Results

  • 9 September, 2019
  • Scott Garner

Thank You RAGBRAI Nation for another great year.  When the weather turns out as great as it was (not so hot), that makes for a much happier week overall.

We received lots of feedback through the surveys this year. Listed below are some of the more common rider and support crew comments and suggestions. While we can’t make changes to address all the suggestions, we will do what we can to make your week in Iowa as enjoyable as possible.  Check out the latest Just Go Bike podcast where TJ and Andrea discuss some of the issues raised through the survey comments.

Rider Suggestions:

  • There is too much vehicle traffic on the bike route, can we close the roads to vehicle traffic?
  • The Service/Shut Down times for the pass-through towns should be extended.
  • Riders agree we should shut down the sale of alcohol in the pass-through towns, but can we leave food and water available past the shut down time?
  • The mileage and elevation figures that we post should be accurate. There was too much variation between the posted and actual figures.
  • The road conditions along the bike route were poor.
  • Can we identify whether a pass-through town is just a wide spot in the road, or will there be services provided at that location?
  • Make the last day shorter in mileage – closer to 50 or less is preferable.
  • Can we identify local vendors/non-profit vendors in the towns so that riders can frequent those instead of the professional vendors?

Driver Suggestions:

  • Provide better signage and maps to identify open camping areas in towns
  • Need detailed maps of vehicle routes into and out of towns – identify on the maps the campgrounds, shower locations and info centers. Make these available ahead of time.
  • Provide better signage and instructions for where to park in the meeting towns.

Here is a quick summary of responses to questions on the survey:


  • 25% of respondents were first time riders, down a bit from last year. Over 23% have ridden 10 or more years.
  • 3.88% rode the Gravel Loop through McClelland, down from last year. Based on comments from some riders, the rain had something to do with deciding to not ride the gravel loop this year.
  • 21.73% rode the Karras Loop through Honey Creek Resort, about the same as last year even though the loop mileage was significantly higher than in previous years.
  • 73.6% of riders spend less than $50 per day on RAGBRAI, 23% spend $50-$100 per day
  • 5% are vegetarian or vegan, 2% are gluten free, 1.7% have dairy restrictions in their diet, and 3.5% have other dietary restrictions (nut allergies, no red meat, etc.) 6.9% will always choose a vegetarian or gluten free meal option, 4.5% will usually, 22.6% will sometimes, 27% rarely will and 39% never will.
  • 68.4% of riders are male; 23.4% are under 45, 56.3% are between the ages of 45-65
  • 71.8% would most definitely recommend RAGBRAI to someone else, 16.9% definitely would, 9.4% most likely would, and 1.9% are not likely to at all.


  • 10.6% used the RAGBRAI merchandise $5 coupon found in the participant guide; 73% didn’t know about it.
  • 46.4% of respondents used the bike license plate provided with the registration packet, 30.5% are not interested in using it.
  • 9% of respondents were on the road by 6am, 82.4% between 6-8am, and another 7% like to start their day by 9am.
  • 6.4% like to arrive in the overnight town before noon
    60.75% like to arrive between noon-4pm
    18% don’t care when they get there
  • 40.5% prefer to eat breakfast in the first pass-through town
    19.5% eat on the route before the first pass-through town
    18% eat before leaving the overnight town
    18.5% eat after the first pass-through town
    3.5% don’t realize that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
  • The following respondents purchased RAGBRAI merchandise in the past 8 months:
    39% at the RAGBRAI Trailers at the event
    6% on RAGBRAI at a bike shop
    2% at a retailer prior to RAGBRAI
    16.6% online at the RAGBRAI store
    24% through ride registration
    33% didn’t purchase any
  • The following respondents purchased a new bike before RAGBRAI:
    18.6% at a local bike shop
    0.5% at a sporting goods store
    1.43% through an online retailer
    2.6% through other outlets
    77% did not purchase a new bike
  • The following respondents purchased new bicycle equipment prior to RAGBRAI:
    54.5% from a local bike shop
    4.5% at a sporting goods store
    20% online
    0.4% through other outlets
    21% did not purchase anything prior to RAGBRAI
  • 24.5% of respondents used a personal support vehicle to carry their bags
    25.6% used a RAGBRAI charter
    36.5% traveled with a large group
    10.5% used the RAGBRAI Baggage Truck
    1.9% carry their own bags
    The remaining 1% or so were single day riders or didn’t have baggage to carry
  • Of those who used the RAGBRAI baggage trucks for support during the week:
    52.26% had no trouble finding the baggage trucks in each town
    43.67% had some difficulty finding the trucks
    4.07% struggled to find the truck in every town
  • According to those responding to the survey, the important features of campgrounds in the towns are:
    Close to showers and porta-pots is most important
    Shade is somewhat important
    Food and close to entertainment not very important
  • 60% of the respondents visited one or both of the nuun and Honey Stinger booths in the meeting towns
    36% didn’t visit either one
    The rest would have if they had known they were there
  • 44% of the respondents stopped at the Iowa Ag Oasis at Howells Tree Farm on Tuesday
    16.8% learned a lot about Ag
    22.8% enjoyed the other activities
    For 6% it was just another stop along the road
  • About 4% or respondents took advantage of the SAG wagon at some point during the week:
    30% was because of mechanical issues
    57.33% was because of physical issues
    12.67% was weather related
  • Training miles varied as usual
    5.88% trained less than 100 miles
    32.5% trained between 100 and 500 miles
    33% trained between 500 and 1000 miles
    28% trained over 1000 miles
    22.5% wish they had trained more


The most serious rider safety challenges identified in the survey are:

  1. Slower riders riding too far to the left
  2. Riders riding three/four abreast without leaving room to pass
  3. Vehicle traffic on the route
  4. Erratic or unpredictable riding
  5. Communication and signaling intent


  • 36% were driving support for the first time, 19.7% have driven 2-3 years, 20.5% for 4-6 years, 7.8% for 7-9 years and 16% for 10 years or more
  • 53.7% are male, 14.5% are between the ages of 25-44, 13.8% between 45-54, 35.7% between 55-64, 30% between 65-74, 4% are 75 or older
  • 8% drove a bus, 21.5% drove an RV, 5% drove a truck, 45% drove a passenger car, 21.5% pulled a travel trailer/camper


  • 6.5% of drivers responding prefer to leave the overnight town before 6am
    26.1% prefer to leave between 6-7am
    33.6% prefer to leave between 7-8am
    30.6% prefer to leave between 8-10am
    3.1% prefer to leave after 10
  • 40% of support drivers spend on average $25-$50 per day including fuel and supplies
    40% spend on average $50-$100 per day
    15% spend more than $100 per day
    41% prefer to purchase supplies in town once they arrive.
    37.25% in a town along the route (up from last year)
    21.75% before leaving town (down from last year)
  • 15% got the new RAGBRAI Support Driver t-shirt, 50% would have if they knew about it
  • 30% of drivers responding said they did not visit any of the meeting towns; 18% visited all 7

This year we had a question specific for those support drivers with an RV or some kind of vehicle built for sleeping in:

  • 4% drove a pop-up type camper
  • 19% pulled a travel trailer/5th wheel 30’ in length or less
  • 12% pulled a travel trailer/5th wheel greater than 30’ in length
  • 45% drove a motor home 40’ in length or less
  • 2% drove a motor home greater than 40’ in length
  • 18% drove some type of converted bus or RV

Thank you again for making RAGBRAI the great event that it is.  We hope to see you July 19-25, 2020 for RAGBRAI XLVIII.  Here are some other important dates to remember:

  • Registration for RAGBRAI XLVIII opens November 15, 2019
  • RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party and Iowa Bike Expo is Saturday, January 25, 2020
  • Weeklong Rider Registration closes April 1, 2020
  • PIGTAILS Ride is May 16, 2020
  • BACoon Ride is June 20, 2020
  • 2020 RAGBRAI Expo is July 18, 2020


The RAGBRAI Crew!!


  1. mcpartla

    How many people completed the survey?
    Where are participants from … state and country?
    Estimated number of participants by day?
    Average age of participants (Day Riders and Week long riders)?
    How many people injured and transported by ambulance each day and total such injuries entire week?
    How many deaths occurred on the ride?
    How many riders skipped the last day? Lots of week long riders told me they skipped Saturday and biked to Keokuk Friday and when
    I got to the Keokuk long term parking Friday afternoon there were lots of parking space gaps.
    I saw fewer crashes and fewer ambulances than past years. Riders seemed to ride more safely than past years.

  2. quinnstamp

    One suggestion I would add under “Safety Issues” is that a day of RAGBRAI should be no fewer than 50 miles, particularly when the route passes near one of Iowa’s larger metro areas.. Winterset to Indianola was a safety nightmare with only two pass-through towns on a short day; combined with the fact there are always a large number of riders who hop on just for the day because they live in such close proximity to where the route passes by. “Hop on” riders are generally less experienced at riding in a group. There just wasn’t enough mileage for the masses to thin out, creating a safety nightmare scenario.

  3. Francisco Mira Cervera

    From Spain I subscribe all the questions of mcpartla and add others with its consequent subjection:
    How many participants used recumbent bicycles? How many trikes?
    When will the website be accessible to foreign participants?
    And finally: When the hell is RAGBRAI going to offer jerseys suitable for bentriders (pockets ahead)? The latter is question, subjection and supplication. After three years as a rider, I don’t want any more jerseys that I can’t use-display because the absence of front pockets makes them useless for me..

  4. Mark Weintraub

    I also would like to know the accident and injury statistics, and cause of accident when it has been determined. My perception is the RAGBRAI organizers’ PR is relentlessly upbeat and avoids anything negative, such as weather, accidents, injuries, and deaths, because of fear that publicizing such information could discourage participation. If you have the data, you should publish it on the website.

  5. Pam Manhart

    Road conditions were not a survey option for the question on safety issues. Many of the roads had very deep and wide potholes and cracks, dangerous to rider and bike safety. Even those communities which tried to remedy the problem simply created bumps in the road. Had this been a potential response, I believe it would have been ranked high.

  6. Erik Bell

    1st time rider. I enjoyed it immensely, but here are 3 comments.
    -Daily Ragbrai Blog reports (from this website) were always a day or 3 behind in reaching my phone, making them useless regarding upcoming info.
    -A bit frustrating to ride the century+ and not get a patch. Official riding hours are 6am to 6pm. I finished century at 5 and was told (afterwards) that the station shut down at 4:30. A simple sign at beginning turnoff stating closing time would be appreciated.
    -One source of bad crashes (which almost took me down just before I saw an ambulance attending to someone) was long strips of gap filler compound, running down the middle of the concrete road, that had warmed in the sun and become very soft. If you didn’t cross over quickly it became a wheel-trapping gutter. I imagine the Hwy Dept had recently put it down to not have a gap hazard for Ragbrai, but it served to become a hidden trap for a number of riders.
    -Mr. Cervera commented above regarding offering recumbent friendly jerseys. I’m sure the cost of adding another style is prohibitive, but in case this ever comes to pass please put the pockets on the sides and not the front, as he mentioned.
    Thanks for a great ride!

  7. mootsman

    “The Big Rove” wasn’t listed for next year. Is it no longer or just not scheduled yet?

  8. Bridgett Sturtz

    This was my 4th year and I am from Texas. I follow the training blog each year and always welcome and expect a “challenging experience”. I feel that although many riders want to ride RAGBRAI, they have an unrealistic idea of this ride. I have never seen so many people go out of their way to make this a safe and enjoyable ride. We cannot expect all the roads to be great (they are terrible in west Texas) or the overnight towns to be exceptional. I feel each community tries to make this experience enjoyable and it is costly for them to prepare. Maybe a better attitude and better preparation would be the best advise!!! It is a challenge but that is where the sense of accomplishment comes from.

  9. talldog4

    What was the estimated number of non-registered riders during any given day in the nearest 1000’s?

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