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Altoona shuttles and layout sucked

The shuttles must have been planned by heavy drinkers or?? The Gold shuttle went within 300 yards of the entertainment area, yet you had to ride the Black shuttle for 20-30 minutes to get to the TRANSFER CENTER to get to the gold shuttle and spend another 20-30 minutes to go past  the entertainment area and then to the camping sites (another 10-20 minutes).  Our bus driver thought the whole shuttle plan was designed by “someone doing something”.  The entertainment center, vendors, and bike shops were so far from each other it was close to impossible to get around between them, we talked to a shop that was holding something for us and they said not to bother coming to them as they were so far out they were not sure how we might find them. 

Meanwhile the people were wonderful, just think the town is not right for an overnight without some major changes.  Pass though town in the future!

30 Replies

wnl256, August 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

I took one look at the shuttle routes and decided it would take forever to get anywhere interesting. The shuttle went right by our campsite but the nearest stop was 4 blocks away! Nearly everyone at our campsite just walked up the road for food. We had some fantastic BBQ at Jethro’s and other folks went to the Big Steer. When we were told the wait was 45 minutes (in an air conditioned restaurant) we all agreed that was just fine with us!


Sandaltan ., August 2, 2011 at 11:27 am

We are fans of Jethro’s also!!  Great BBQ.  We are not fans of shuttle buses.  I have not been on a shuttle bus for years…..maybe Rockwell City was the last time.  I remember Rockwell City because the bus driver backed into a pole….long story….we bailed out.  I have a headlight, taillight, light weight cable and combination lock which turns my bike into a speedy shuttle bus.



hallyhall, August 2, 2011 at 11:28 am

I agree that many towns have an issue with their shuttles but I suppose a lot of that has to do with how many drivers they can round up with CDLs to be able to handle those busses.  I think another issue is just that the number of busses they have versus the number of riders just doesn’t add up and I’ve seen so many occasions where people wait at a shuttle stop for a bus, it gets there, and then only a few are able to get on because the bus is already full and they are just told to wait for the next bus to show up. 

While the planning in some cities can probably use some improvement I think the issue is also compounded just by a lack of qualified drivers available.  And, that probably adds to the mess.  If they can only get X number of drivers to handle the shuttles that probably limits the number of routes they can offer, where those routes go, and how often busses will actually come by each stop. 

At this point I’ve realized after biking 50-70 miles a day I can handle another 1-3 miles biking through town to get to the various places I need/want to go.  May not be a solution for most but $20 on a pair of lights to see and be seen at night is better than the headache I’ve experienced waiting for shuttles before. 

And I agree, the volunteers are about as great as can be but I just think it’s the lack of them that hurts more than anything because that limits the amount of services that can be offered in each town.


NathanZ, August 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I have limited experience (just 2 rides) but at this point I’m confident in point of view. If it’s a big metro area(+40k population or so) the overnight town will be my least favorite of the week.

Last year, Waterloo. 
This year, Altoona.
It’s almost like they try to keep us away from all the action. Towns like Grinnell,Boone, Charles City and Clear Lake really know how to throw a party!


jwsknk, August 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Right, a lot of the bigger towns no longer have town squares and large camping areas are often far apart. It has worked in DM when camping was on the statehouse grounds and activities were nearby on Court Ave. Statefairgrounds would work, RV and camping sites, dorms, showers, restrooms,a stage for a “Big” show and muktiple ones for smaller bands, and food stands that could open up. And access can by controlled by opening only a few gates.


jgdhawk, August 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I was able to ride the black line to the expo, then ride it again to the Peter and Paul Church ,which had a great ribeye sandwhich, and then back to camp. It worked out great and didn’t take very long.


IdaGrovian, August 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Altoona shuttle plan was terrible. Bus went right by our campsite (a large charter) but driver said he could not let us off the bus except at a designated stop. So, we had to get off at the next stop and walk about a mile back to the camp. Can you imagine? Having to walk a mile? Oh, wait…I was riding a bicycle in 100 degree weather 60-70 miles a day… well, at least I guess I can say I was temporarily detained against my will in Altoona.

Sorry Altoona, you were a major disappointment.


giantron, August 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I didn’t use the Altoona shuttles, too far out. 

BUT there were 3 fantastic things about Altoona:

1) Really great people
2) Jethro’s BBQ (awesome)
3) The angels that handed us a frozen hand towel as we rode the last hot mile to our campground. That was truly, truly appreciated!


gregonline, August 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Yes those ladies with the cold hand towels provided wonderful relief on a hot day.

I want to repeat the people of Altoona were great.  The plans for transportation and the locations for events, vendors etc were the problem.

My support people are important and they do not ride around like many of us are willing to do at night…they were trapped on LOOOOONG shuttle rides, not worth the time and sweat. So we all missed out!


TXBob, August 3, 2011 at 4:17 am

And what was the thinking in Altoona with closing the pool at 5pm instead of its usual 8pm time? And bringing in the police to watch the closing? It seems like you’d want to encourage people to cool off in the pool, no alcohol served there, nice and safe. Instead of tossing everyone out into the heat to go get drunk or whatever. 


Michrider !!!, August 3, 2011 at 4:19 am

TXBob said: And what was the thinking in Altoona with closing the pool at 5pm instead of its usual 8pm time? And bringing in the police to watch the closing? It seems like you’d want to encourage people to cool off in the pool, no alcohol served there, nice and safe. Instead of tossing everyone out into the heat to go get drunk or whatever. 

Who got drunk?


Sandaltan ., August 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

Hardly a word about the shuttle buses in any other community……..they must have gotten it right.  Kudos to them.  As for Altoona, this was a learning experience and I know they worked their little bums off trying to get everything just right.  Kudos to the Altoona volunteers and I hope we are invited back.



gregonline, August 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I will repeat: if the layout of the vendors, town center, and entertainment area cannot be closer, do not have the town as an overnight stop.  Sorry for the people who I know must have worked hard but with the set up they had Altoona was not a good overnight town.  Change the set up and I am sure the town would be great.  Just not sure they can change.


Brant, August 4, 2011 at 8:03 am

<FONT face=”Times New Roman”>Hey, I was on the Ride Right committee for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” /><st1:City w:st=”on”><st1:place w:st=”on”>Altoona</st1:place></st1:City>.  I know there were allot of upset people on planning committees that did not like the shuttle route and fought to change it.  People that have ridden many RAGBRAI’s and should have been in charge of the major decisions like this but were over-ruled by non-riders. If you have complaints I would urge you to post it on the Altoona-RAGBRAI FB page as I doubt they will be seen here. Hope you enjoyed <st1:City w:st=”on”><st1:place w:st=”on”>Altoona</st1:place></st1:City> anyways.  I know there was some opps, this was probably the biggest thing that has visited <st1:place w:st=”on”><st1:City w:st=”on”>Altoona</st1:City></st1:place> so was bound to be some mistakes.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” /><o:p></o:p></FONT>


ehlent, August 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm

first, I would like to say thank you to all the towns along the ride route this year.   In general all were pretty good.   I am sure it is difficult to plan for and run and event the size of RAGBRAI.   I noticed also that the shuttle routes in altoona were not very effective from the maps and I never tried to use them.   I don’t like to take shuttles and that is why I prefer smaller towns where things are closer together.    Coralville IMO had it right in that everything was pretty close.   Atlantic was another town where much of the camping was a fair distance from the entertainment and other events.   


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