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Best and Worst?

What is everyones opinions on Best town and Worst town?

Best town for me was Waukon. They had everyone spread out, set up, just seemed to flow good in town.
Oddly Charles City seemed to be the worst town from our teams experience. Lack of everything.
Even with a vehicle pass, we kept getting told we werent allowed into the official camping areas in EVERY town. However every single local was driving through taking photos of everything.

Overall, the ride was good, a few very rough patches. The first stretch out of Decorah was the roughest roads. The weather was great in my opinion other than a little windy one day.

As soon as we got more to eastern Iowa, traffic got worse and worse on the routes. We even had a group get ran off the road by a milk truck driver that decided he didnt care if RAGBRAI was there or not and simply laid on his horn.

So, whats everyone elses opinions?

46 Replies

Sexton, August 5, 2017 at 8:18 am

Best over night town had to be Cresco, everything was spread out, but not too far to get to. Shout out to Jesse at the post office there for helping me send all the stuff I had accumulated up to that point home. The swine showers at the fairground were a hoot.
Worst, Charles City hands down. I had a nice tent spot on the hill behind the high school. No sleep that night because the bands downtown seemed to have their amps aimed right at me, and I’m mostly deaf in one ear.
Best pass through towns, West Bend, Britt (watched an interesting documentary at the Hobo museum there) Lawler, Decorah (outgoing people and Viking food). Honorable mention, Sutherland, (soaker hose’s and wine tasting, and Ossian, with Michelle Lynn, a talented young lady from Decorah singing on stage.
Bummers; All that fine Iowa food threw my digestive schedule off. That required making some adjustments.
As hard as they tried, the shuttle schedules in Spencer were chaotic, and in Algona the driver had the heaters on.
Riders well left of the yellow line doing 9 miles an hour.
I seemed to pick up more than my share of parasites (you know them as wheel suckers) this year.


Brian Wallenburg, August 5, 2017 at 5:14 pm

Best – Had my ID, debit card and insurance card returned to me in the mail this week, after I lost it on day 2. Worst – Whoever found it, kept the cash… In all honesty though, I’m appreciative of the fact I got back what I did.


kiowahog, August 6, 2017 at 9:22 am
    Worst Church Dinner Scam

was the First Congregational Church in Spencer. After waiting in a slow line, we got to the front, where the church ladies were taking payment and giving poker chips for dinner tokens. As there were absolutely no signs that warned of the price of dinner, imagine my shock (this was my 19th RAGBRAI, btw) when I was informed dinner was $20! I think this was the most expensive church dinner that I have ever seen. When asked what one received for $20, I was told two meats (ham or beef), cheesy potatoes, green beans, pie and water or milk. Sounded like a typical church dinner, but…$20?! The ladies reluctantly divulged that one could opt for only one meat choice and no pie for $13, which was still outrageous. Two meats and no pie was $15, so apparently they felt their pie was worth $5. It was not. After waiting in the hot line, my team and myself succumbed to their extortion, paid and went to eat. I will say the food was good. I am sad to see this blatant gouging going on at a church on RAGBRAI, and hope it is not a trend going forward. Things like that will ultimately harm the whole experience of what RAGBRAI is.

Best Church dinner was in Cresco! Sloppy Joes, macaroni, wonderful pie, and water, lemonade, tea…for $7.00! It was fabulous, really hit the spot! Kudos to the Cresco United Methodist Church, best of the week!


T. Gap Woo, August 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Best wine: Empty Nest wineries in Waukon had a delicious blend of rhubarb, raspberry and blueberry wine called Twigs and Berries. After finishing the day’s ride in Waukon, we backtracked to the winery where we sampled and bought several wines. Most refreshing and delicious!!

Best General Store: The Rustic Corner in Charles City. Mrs Woo would have bought out the store if we didn’t need to roll on the way!

Best Photo Op: Tie between the Grotto in West Bend and the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. I’m glad I brought my camera.

Best local personality: Georgianna at the top of the last hill into Lansing. She was delightfully funny and entertaining as all get-out. She could talk the ear off a stalk of corn. I hope to meet her again when Ragbrai comes into Lansing again.

All-in-all, this was a fantastic week in every regard.

See you along the I-O-Way in 2018.


Sandaltan ., August 6, 2017 at 5:12 pm

To avoid “dinner scams” and disappointment our team sends a food scout to the front of the line to verify the price, take a look-see at what is really being placed on the plate and if late in the evening asking the cook staff if they have enough chow to feed the x number of people in line. The designated food scout takes a rough estimate of how many are in line ahead of us as she makes her way politely toward the serving area. A time or two or three we have abandoned the line when the food scout has reported that reduced portions were being served because they were running out.



jake d, August 6, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Good advice Sandaltan.
Our team is fortunate enough to have someone who has no problem forgoing Midwest niceties and walks straight to the front of the line and into the
service area to assess the situation.


KenH, August 7, 2017 at 7:45 am


We commoners are speechless at this news and wishing you a full and speedy recovery!


igor, August 9, 2017 at 2:32 pm

[quote quote=1275590]RAGBRAI 45 was one of best ever! The end of RAGBRAI was the worst ever!! I dipped my tire with my team and then went to town to eat.After a few celebratory drinks, we went back to the RV to get ready. I tripped and fell and broke my fib tib. Had surgery today and now on the road to recovery!


Hi Amanda, I am so sorry to hear about your accident. :( I hope your recovery goes well and you can get back out there on the bike soon. It was nice to meet you in Paullina! It’s always fun to put a face to a name. My gal and I had an absolute blast on RAGBRAI 45! This was the best RAGBRAI ever. Best was all the great people I met along the way and the piece of blueberry pie and ice cream in Charles City. The worst for me was the headwinds on Tuesday into Clear Lake. When we were pulling into Lansing I was truly sad it had to end. Can’t wait for 46!


swiifg, August 17, 2017 at 10:23 am

My disappointment (not best or worst) was missing the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. I am not a speedy rider and like to see things as I go also. A stop at Ventura to listen to Maddie Poppe was on my radar all week long. After that stop, entering Clear Lake at 5:00 I was disappointed to find the Surf was only open until 5. I was hoping the time would be extended to at least 6 since that is the official ending of route time.

I also was surprised to see nothing of the zombies upon entering Cresco before the end of route closing. We made a trip to the main campground to look for the RAGBRAI trailer so I am thinking we should have seen something if the welcoming group was still around. I hope the activities in the host towns aren’t going to start being geared to the faster/earlier riders. Some of us choose to travel at a more leisurely pace (or can’t ride 25 mph) and hopefully enjoy things along the way as well.


mootsman, August 18, 2017 at 7:33 am

I liked all of the route this year but in particular the last very scenic stretch along the river. I hope route planners try and include a few miles along the river in the future also.

My least favorite thing again was myself. I like the riding so much I still haven’t really figured out how to stop and enjoy more of the little things along the way. Maybe some year I can find a volunteer guide to help me with that. I did go through the Grotto though which I enjoyed.

Good to see Pastafari was back although the pesto sauce could use some improving.


beaglebaby, August 24, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Thought all the towns did a good job. If there was a best, Charles City I felt did a wonderful job.
I don’t know, but I have been told that when the towns are approached by the RAGBRAI selection personnel that they are given a bible of thou shall and thou shall not, one of the rules is that any business that is located in proximity of over night central SHALL pay RAGBRAI for the privilege of being open during the event. Maybe that is why they decided not to open their doors, I know it would influence my decision if that is true.
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed every day, the last day we had the privilege of having our 6 year old granddaughter ride with us on her tag behind grandpa and grandma. Do it again in a heartbeat.


Jared, August 25, 2017 at 5:27 am

I guess it is time to set the record straight on some things mentioned here..

I don’t know, but I have been told that when the towns are approached by the RAGBRAI selection personnel that they are given a bible of thou shall and thou shall not, one of the rules is that any business that is located in proximity of over night central SHALL pay RAGBRAI for the privilege of being open during the event.

Completely FALSE! Any business can operate their business as usual that day RAGBRAI comes with ZERO additional fees or permits… Please be reponsible and get facts before bashing a town. Charles City did not close down one bar as some bad rumor started circulating. Again, completely FALSE. and RAGBRAI does not receive one penny from any local buisness or vendor selling food or drink.



Sandaltan ., September 4, 2017 at 10:54 pm

There is no “worst” on RAGBRAI……except maybe bratwurst….make mine from Wisconsin…jalapeno-cheese.



KenH, September 5, 2017 at 8:15 am


Supposedly during his morning pep talk before going out for a day of protest against racial discrimination a protest leader in the 1960’s gave this advice to his crew:

“There’s a lot of bad stuff going on out there. I want you to be peaceful and safe so follow our instructions. Don’t believe anything that you have heard and only believe half of what you see!!”

My paraphrase, from memory. The truth is that RAGBRAI just does not have the kind of power that would allow them to close down businesses. RAGBRAI is just a department in a newspaper company. They have no authority over anyone. Whatever is done at their request is done out of respect for what they are doing, out of appreciation for what the event means to Iowa, and out of a good old fashioned American spirit of community and cooperation. Iowa roads are not closed for our exclusive use and the state of Iowa certainly does not suspend any of its commercial rules so that RAGBRAI can tell us all what to do and what not to do.

The only things I have heard that are even remotely close to what you heard comes from direct sources. Beekmans told me that they were having trouble this year getting permits to set up where they wanted to set up and their location in West Bend got changed at least twice. Beekmans is a guest business so of course they have to get permits from the locals to operate, that has nothing to do with RAGBRAI, that’s just normal county business law in action. Various churches over the years have told me they were canceling services or changing the times rather than trying to deal with the RAGBRAI crowd on Sunday morning. Those are the church’s own decisions, no one forces them to do anything.

RAGBRAI is a huge event for most of the towns it visits. Local businesses are free to try to capitalize on the influx of potential customers or board up the windows and take the day off if they feel unequal to the task. It’s their choice, RAGBRAI does not have the power to force them to do anything or collect any fees from them. I see a lot of businesses operating on extended hours or offering special deals to RAGBRAI riders. A lot of them do take advantage of the extra consumers who attend the event. Some would rather just sit on their front porches and enjoy the parade! Either way it’s their decision.

My wife and I recently went down to Ste. Genevieve, MO to watch the moon pass in front of the sun. WHOA, what an experience that was! The next one is in 2024, DON’T MISS IT!!! But the preparations and the accommodations the town made for out of town eclipse viewers reminded me a little of RAGBRAI. The local people were going out of their way to make room for us and help us have a good time while we were in town. The local businesses missed an opportunity to garner extra customers, many of them had closed up shop for the day by the time we got our equipment stowed away and hit the town to see what it had to offer. For the most part the business in RAGBRAI towns take better advantage of the gift of extra customers that RAGBRAI brings them. Personally I think Lansing did an excellent job for us this year. If you want to hear genuine horror stories, ask someone who viewed the eclipse from Carbondale, IL how that traffic situation played out!


Michrider !!!, September 20, 2017 at 9:06 am

What eclipse?

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


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