RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!


Some overnight towns have begun posting maps. Sergeant Bluff, as far as I can tell, is not one of them yet. Ida Grove shows two adjacent main campgrounds – a single baseball field and a football field. They also mention an overflow camping area, of similar size. Doing the math, even allowing for charters sited elsewhere, I just don’t see how everybody will fit, leaving aside the question of how to handle the abundance of human waste. A football field is nominally 50 x 120 yards, with end zones, = 6000 sq. yards.
If a tent site is 9 ft. x 9 ft., = 3 yds. x 3 yds = 9 sq. yards, there’d be room for 667 tents on the field, plus maybe room for a few more on the periphery. The baseball field may accommodate a similar number. Many or most other green spaces are reserved for charters. The matter may be complicated by jammed cell towers in that small town. Pocahontas doesn’t look much more commodious. I’m keen to learn how all that works out – I’ll be up the road a town or two or three.

15 Replies

Jimbodog, July 11, 2022 at 4:44 am

I think up the road is the best place for you.


direwolf, July 11, 2022 at 1:34 pm

Jimbodog: Thanks for your affirmation. It means the world to me.


HelenP, July 11, 2022 at 1:55 pm

Hey, no need to SHOUT SO LOUDLY;
*wiggles e-finger in e-ear*
we can hear your lowercase words just fine, too. ;-)

Seems t’me the entirety of RAGBRAI’s logistics are somewhere between a mystery and a miracle. Reminds me of kudzu vines blanketing every inch of acres of land — except ours is more of a flying carpet that frisks away the next day.

In your calculations, don’t forget there’s a lot of open space surrounding a playing field, and there are probably 2 persons per tent on average. Also, RVs, team busses, hotels, local homes, and other inside housing will accomodate a sizeable number of us. People on day passes won’t need some of the overnight space, either.


Raymond Johnson, July 11, 2022 at 3:37 pm

The math educator in me really likes this post, direwolf! Figuring out a model to answer the question “How many tents/campers can fit in a given space?” is actually one I’d like to know all the host towns have done, and that maybe the RAGBRAI organizers have learned lessons over the years to know a good prediction from a not-so-good one. I think the numbers roughly check out and that 9′ x 9′ might even be on the small side for the amount of space required by the average tent. With end zones and sidelines, and averaging 1.5 people per tent, you can fit around 1000 people on a football field. Thankfully, all that’s really needed for camping is grassy flat ground, and that’s something Iowa has in abundance — especially for those who are a bit more nimble with their camping setups.


direwolf, July 11, 2022 at 5:37 pm

aye, i guess we’ll see. nimble’ll be the order of the day (week), methinks. all we ever get from helen p. is poetic imagery and immutable equanimity, backlit by good ol’ common sense.


HelenP, July 11, 2022 at 6:02 pm

the real experts at this are likely the organizers of ragbrai & its various charters. for example, pork belly ventures has a huge “tent city” of rental tents that they set up & take down daily. they’re too busy right now to ask, of course.


HelenP, July 11, 2022 at 6:22 pm

Just a moment. . . PBV emailed measurements for group indoor sleeping, for each person (without a tent), like in a school gym or church hall. . .

“approximately a 4′ X 8′ sleeping area (floor space)”.


direwolf, July 11, 2022 at 11:01 pm

omicron b.5 smiles.


Jimbodog, July 12, 2022 at 6:53 pm

I hear you direwolf. My first Ragbrai was a sticker, hooked. Went with a local team for a few in my younger days. Had the time of my life, away for a week from responsibilities. Wife approved and I really missed my kids. I have done a few full weeks and many two or three days when passing through my area in Iowa. My wife joined me when the kidlets became older. Had a blast on our tandem with the war department until we missed, for the most part, three seasons of riding due to her sciatica. The stoker from hell retired from nursing and started her own catering and baking business licensed by the state of Iowa. Guess what. Her spring through autumn days, too busy, so this poor fool has to saddle up alone. I have always wanted to ride self-contained. In June I modified a sturdy Trek C-40 dump find I polished and oiled up. I plotted out a 146-mile three-day ride to St. Anthony IA that featured gravel, trails and county pavement. I was heading to my Granddaughters first birthday. Something hit the fan, I laughingly refer to it as a “S” with a” hit” ear infection that had me down for over two months. I have a small hole in my ear drum he said. Where in the hell am I going with this … Oh yeah, my big thing is to Ragbrai self-contained. I like the idea of camping in the town before the overnight. I think I would also like the freedom of riding to the first town after the overnight. Perfect example is this year’s E’burg to Mason City. If you were crafty, you turn Poky to E’burg to Mason into two days of around 75 each. Sure, you may miss a few things being rough, but Ragbrai isn’t all about people like us. Ride on direwolf !! if you see Hairball again, puke for me! Over and out!


Chris, July 12, 2022 at 8:50 pm

Hey Direwolf:

The controlled chaos is part of the fun ;)
Rarely has there been a campground that is utterly unworkable. About the only time I can remember that it all went to crap was one of the campgrounds where things got soggy due to rainstorm (I can’t remember which it was), so we all ended up kinda crowded in the dry area. Still, not a big deal. Sometimes being packed in is almost fun, too, as you do get to know your neighbors.

Oh, ok, they did boff it once recently in the planning phase: 2014. It was the night we spent in Waverly on Wartburg College’s campus. They had us packed in TIGHT on the main campground. The only concequence of that was you could hear the person in the tent next to you say “HOLY @#)@#)$#@$” when the storm came though that night.

As for B.5: Last year was interesting. Despite some dire predictions about it turning into a mass-spreading event, that didn’t happen. Yes, this one one is interesting with how far it has mutated, but for those who have both been vaccinated and have been previously exposed, there looks to be a reasonable degree of resistance to it. Yeah, having COVID on RAGBRAI would suck hard, but I gotta wonder if, given the demographic of RAGBRAI, we’re not approaching some kind of herd immunity. No way of knowing that, of course. Just musing.

Lastly: when aren’t the cell towers a mess on RAGBRAI? Other than the largest cities we visit, cell service is marginal at best, crap most of the time, and just not there the rest of the time. PRS / walkie-talkie is the way to go if you *must* communicate with a group of people.

It’s RAGBRAI. It’s a rolling disaster of dirty laundry, bruised butts, and good spirits. It all works out.

See you in July.


HelenP, July 12, 2022 at 9:19 pm

Of course, we create our own problem with the cell service, which simply isn’t designed to handle maybe 30 times the local population’s needs. However, if enough of us were to turn off our data intensive luxury apps (like always-on mapping software), and keep our phone calls and other uses to a minimum, *surprise!* we’d likely be able to use the service when we actually need it. Phone texts are a good way to do that, using far fewer bytes than even phone calls use. Checking mapping software briefly, then closing the app is certainly adequate — it’s not like we’re jet airplanes zooming across the map.


direwolf, July 12, 2022 at 10:35 pm

such is the soothing power of helen p’s aura that this thread has, against the odds, flipped positive. she tells me to mute the volume on my posts, i mute the volume on my posts. she tells me to turn my phone the f*ck off when I don’t really need it. i will do so. she tells me it’s ok to sleep 18 inches from a fellow traveler from somewhere where covid mutated beyond my immune system’s capacity for diversity? nope.

jimbodog: when the dust settles, come see us in the country, south of iowa city. we’ll fit your bride to a recumbent bike or trike. when my searing sciatica becomes intolerable there are times when i can only get relief by riding a recumbent bike or trike. looking forward, i’ll wager her business can run itself for the week of ragbrai. nurses are special. iowa nurses are really really really special.


Randall Murphy, July 13, 2022 at 9:23 am

direwolf, you and your clan are yet another reason why I like this ride. If you want to get up with the farmers and have the road to yourself and get to the next overnight town by 11:00, you can. If you want to get up at 10:00 and hit every bar all day and get in after dark, you can. If you have a family, or an e-bike, (yes an e-bike), or a hand-cycle your ride will be different as well. It can be whatever you want it to be. I can’t wait…see you in a couple weeks.


HelenP, July 13, 2022 at 12:22 pm

Nah, direwolf, I was just commenting; we all make our own choices for RAGBRAI, which is part of what makes it what it is!

I’ve also been thinking of how to minimize my Covid risk at the indoor sleeping sites — probably consisting of minimizing my non-sleeping time in there, doing masking and handwashing, and sleeping with a sheet or light cloth over my head.

Hmm, or could I fit a full spacesuit in my duffel bag. . .?! ;-)


Randall Murphy, July 13, 2022 at 4:46 pm

I’ve also been thinking of how to minimize my Covid risk at the indoor sleeping sites – I’m going to sleep outside in my tent. Can’t wait….see you in a couple weeks. FYI if you haven’t seen and listened to the Elders yet don’t miss Friday.


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