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Reply To: Opinions on other Charters????

AlwaysaHawkeye, January 30, 2019 at 12:31 am

This will be my 4th year in a row riding RAGBRAI.
I am from Iowa and live in Atlanta, Georgia. Friends in my local cycling clubs ride with me.

Our 1st year we used Pork Belly Ventures.
They were great for a first timer and I had a really good experience.
They are BIG which means they require a bigger footprint for all the campers and their trucks so they often can’t get as close to the Main Street of events in the overnight towns.
BIG as in 1,000+ campers.
They run things like a well oiled machine and everything is taken care of.
They have lots of lines. Lines for tire pressure pumps, lines for toilets, lines for food, lines for showers (not uncommon for shower trucks but they allow outsiders to pay and PBV campers do not get priority so it’s a first come first serve which is frustrating).
They give you free beer but charge you for water.
Their tents options are smaller than other charters.
They do not have bike racks.
I found they really encourage you to stay in their camp, eat their buffets and listen to their musical performers which takes away from the experience of RAGBRAI IMO as the overnight towns put in a lot of hard work to welcome you to their town.
Because they offer more like a few buffets and entertainment, they are more expensive.

The next year we tried Padres Cycle Inn.
Jimmy and Dave/Susie are awesome hosts!
Very organized set-up.
Reasonably priced.
Only 100 campers so they often are able to set up camp closer to Main Street attractions than bigger charters.
Tents are bigger than PBV! You can stand up in their bigger tents too.
Inflated air mattresses included and your luggage transported in and out of your tent for you. If it’s cold at night, they will even bring packing blankets from the bike van to your tent.
Bike racks! No turning your bike upside down or laying it by your tent.
They brew great coffee each morning and it’s ready early.
Water and Gatorade jugs to refill your bottles.
Their own Porta-potty’s- not all smaller charter have their own.
Hand washing station.
Large social tent with chairs.
Table with snacks at end of day.
Electronic Charging Station
Bike repair stands
They do not have their own shower trucks but always try to camp close to a school/facility with showers or shower trucks. They can call for a golf cart to pick you up from camp if the shower trucks are too far. They provide disposable towels (like giant body paper towels and they work!).
Their workers are often high school kids they hire for the ride and campers give a nice tip at the end that is shared between them.
Sodas and beer provided in coolers in camp. Padres has some beer and encourages campers who like to indulge to pick up more and share. I like to bring a nice selection of local IPA beers from Georgia to share!
They charter out of St Louis but you can just meet them at start of ride if you don’t need transportation.

We used Padres Cycle Inn our 3rd year!
Part of the GA group used Brancel the 2nd year and switched to Padres the 3rd year too.
We are ALL using Padres this year.
With only 100 campers, it feels like family!!!

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