The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

2018 Rider and Driver Demographics

How many charter? How many use the RAGBRAI baggage truck? When might the official vehicle route come out?
You will find the answers here.


12 Replies

Cory Rood, April 17, 2019 at 5:54 am

The ‘notes’ to the rider comments submitted seemed very dismissive. I understand an explanation why things are the way they are but there was no acknowledgement of the possibility that they could do better.


mootsman, April 17, 2019 at 7:30 am

I liked all the notes. With 15,000+ riders plus all the support people including the police and local residents just because 1 person might view something as better, does not make it the best choice for all involved. Thanks to all those who work to put on RAGBRAI and thanks for the explanations.


Cory Rood, April 18, 2019 at 6:14 am

My understanding was those were the most common comments. so more than just one rider had that thought. Just seemed like they weren’t interested in any feedback that went against the way they do it.


KenH, April 18, 2019 at 7:26 am

The RAGBRAI team has to walk a fine line between the needs and desires of the riders, the vendors, the towns and counties, and the police forces. This is a huge event to put on in rural, for the most part, Iowa and it is unlike most other events of its size that are not bicycle rides in that the location changes from day to day for a week. Indeed the “location” is a thin line up to 116 miles long this year. That is a tough job and there are forces in Iowa who would love to just see the whole thing go away. I don’t believe they are a majority or even close but they are there and in some locales they have considerable influence over what RAGBRAI can and cannot do.

I don’t read the notes as dismissive. Sometimes RAGBRAI just has to say no either because they are unable to implement an idea with the resources available or because the limitations are out of their control.


mootsman, April 18, 2019 at 11:47 am


Exactly what I was getting at. The comments were not even a little bit dismissive. They reflect the difficulties and realities of putting on an event.

And of course when I referred to 1 rider it wasn’t that specific, whether 1 or 101 or 1001, still just a smaller number when you total all the riders and the people who work at putting on RAGBRAI.

Not dismissive, just reality.


Cory Rood, April 19, 2019 at 5:58 am

Free Water on the Route – all towns need to provide water bottle filling stations, or do a better job of marking the location
NOTE: All towns are given instruction to provide water bottle filling stations, they are usually located on the way out of town.

After last year’s first 2 days this was a terrible response. If there was water stations in some of those pass through towns the first day they were not easily found and RAGBRAI completely ignores the fact that they could do better in this regard.

I get it, you can’t please everyone but when you ask for comments and you are given idea’s how to make the ride better(you can always be better) but then you don’t even say you’ll take those ideas into consideration, thats dismissive.


KenH, April 19, 2019 at 9:27 am

You have to understand that the RAGBRAI team does not control what the pass through towns do and they do not have the resources to do what the pass through towns do even if they could control them. So what can they do? They can do exactly what they say that they ARE doing: “All towns are given instruction to provide water bottle filling stations, they are usually located on the way out of town.” They emphasize to the pass through town teams the need for water stations, they suggest a consistent location for them, and they pass along the successful ideas that other towns have used in years past. There is nothing more that they can do really. They have no way to know what the pass through towns will do, or where, or how well it will be designated so that riders can find a given service until the day of the ride.

But there is something more that you can do.

Carry enough water!

Personally I never depend on any town to have water available. I carry enough to last half a day and I refill as soon as there is a liter of space available in my water bottles unless I am sure I have enough to ride the rest of the route on what I have. Some of the towns on the route are the proverbial wide spots in the road and they do NOTHING to support RAGBRAI. They are too small to do anything to support RAGBRAI so there is nothing wrong with that. But you cannot depend on every town on the route to have water available. You can read the pre-ride reports which will tell you which towns plan to do nothing for us except smile and wave as we pass through. And you can plan your water supply accordingly. Remember that while free is better than cheap, there is plenty of cheap water available to buy and the proceeds almost always go towards helping someone/something.

That is just one item on the list of course but after reviewing them all I don’t find any of the responses to be dismissive. Would I try to do something different in a case or two if I were in charge? Perhaps, but if I were in charge I would also know thousands of things that I don’t currently know about putting on this ride and perhaps I would do exactly what RAGBRAI is currently doing.


David, April 19, 2019 at 10:21 am

I think one thing people need to keep in mind is that most of the ragbrai you see is run by volunteers that are doing this for the first time. They get recommendations and guidelines from ragbrai organizers but most of the organization and infrastructure is pulled off by people that have never done anything close to what they accomplish that day.

More people need to be patient and nicer to the support people and realize that just because you road past the water fountain doesn’t mean there was some nefarious plan to make you buy bottled water. The same water issue came up after the ride last year, people just missed them.

The expectations people have would increase the cost so much that the price of a water bottle would be trivial. There isn’t any right to free water anyways. We are invading through their towns, pay for water.

The reality is that none of the notes on the survey are existential issues for ragbrai. Keeping the towns and counties happy is. I would be more interested in the host survey than the rider survey when it comes to keeping ragbrai healthy.


Gypsy Rose, April 20, 2019 at 11:04 am

One of my very favorite things about RAGBRAI is that the ride is UNLIKE most other organized tours. Whereas many rides are fully supported in a way that includes everything set up and handed to the riders along the route in such a way that riders hardly need to think for themselves, RAGBRAI, on the other hand, is a ride that allows for full immersion in the landscapes and communities along the way.

Many other rides offer little in the way of interaction with the locals along the route as riders stop at SAG stations set up by the organizers. The organizers of RAGBRAI, however, provide extensive coaching to the the communities along the route and then let the folks in those towns bring their own uniqueness to the ride.

I suppose one could compare the less immersive rides as being like traveling to a foreign land only to eat your meals in familiar American franchises. (Personally, I wouldn’t travel thousands of miles to experience someone else’s culture and then search out a Big Mac.)

My favorite moments on RAGBRAI come when I stumble upon the unexpected treats, whether it be the food, the hospitality, or the conversations along the way. RAGBRAI is every bit as much an event for the communities and their residents as it is for the riders. (We often talk about how many riders participate, but I would love to see a count for the total number of people – riders and non-riders – who participate in the magic of RAGBRAI.)

There truly is no other ride that can compare with RAGBRAI. I can’t wait to see everyone in July!

~ Kevin


Jeff Rogers, April 20, 2019 at 11:47 am

David is spot on! Most of the organized rides I go on are staffed by volunteers who are NOT cyclist. They really have no idea what they are getting into and do their best to follow instructions they don’t fully understand/appreciate.

    I can’t thank the volunteers enough for contributing to my recreation.

My only hope is that they and the organizations they represent receive some benefit for their efforts.


LawnchairMan, April 20, 2019 at 6:53 pm

I know that it is beyond my skills to organize an event way smaller than Ragbrai, but I have to acknowledge Cory’s point. Every survey concern was just given a reason it could’t be changed. There was no “Oh, thanks for pointing that out. We could do better in that area.” I didn’t see a “Thank you for your comments.” anywhere in the survey. So, yeah it was a bit cold. I thought the idea of the survey is to find areas to improve. If not, why ask?

Some concerns could be resolved. For example, the response for spreading the porta potties was that each cluster needed a handicapped kybo. A solution would be to have more handicapped stalls. How much more do they cost? I would donate to that cause. I needed those when I crashed one year.

Just because we make suggestions to make Ragbrai better doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate all the efforts that have made it what it is. I appreciate it. I really do! I can’t imagine organizing all the coordination between The Register, towns, volunteers, law enforcement and emergency services. I do imagine it takes months if not years to plan for it. I have enjoyed riding or being there six years, and rely on the behind the scene support. But if it could be better with just a little change, then why not? Keep the path for constructive criticism open.

This reply was modified 2 hours, 37 minutes ago by  LawnchairMan.


Low Rider, April 20, 2019 at 8:32 pm

Some concerns could be resolved. For example, the response for spreading the porta potties was that each cluster needed a handicapped kybo. A solution would be to have more handicapped stalls. How much more do they cost? I would donate to that cause. I needed those when I crashed one year.

The response to the survey comment was interesting. Actually the ADA only requires reasonable accommodations. Reserving some spots around clusters with a handicapped kybo for those needing handicapped kybos would be an example of a reasonable accommodation, allowing the other kybos to be distributed throughout the campground. As someone who needs reasonable accommodations I am tired of people trotting out the ADA as an excuse for not doing the right thing or a better job.

There are other accommodations I know RAGBRAI has been asked to provide but so far those have been rejected.

I agree that TJ and crew do a great job. Having said that, even the best can get better. Survey results and comments could help the best get better.


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