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We are wondering how the camping works through Ragbrai. We plan on having a driver this year. We are just not sure how hard it is to find the Ragbrai camping area, and how do we find showers?

31 Replies

bugs11, February 9, 2018 at 10:15 am

I have a story told to me by a friend regarding running a generator all night. He was camping somewhere that had the 10:00 pm rule, generators had to be shut off at 10:00 pm. It was a hot night, his wife and kids wanted the AC on so he ran his generator into the night. He said he woke around midnight with no AC, the generator had stopped, but he had filled it with gas before turning in. He went out to check the generator and someone had shut off the gas AND cut the handle off the starter rope – no way to restart the generator.


Niles, February 9, 2018 at 12:51 pm

[quote quote=1281761 He went out to check the generator and someone had shut off the gas AND cut the handle off the starter rope – no way to restart the generator.[/quote]

Michael, I don’t know how to take sides on your friend’s story.

Just to share mine. I slept one night on the general camping site and the neighbor was running their generator. I felt they broke the rule (maybe unofficial one?) of 10:00pm. SO I went to ask them if they were going to run it the whole night. I tried in the neutral/open way as asking a question. Of course they are smart enough to detect that wasn’t really question. The guys came back to me “We have a baby inside and the baby would die if didn’t ran the generator”. What can I say? I was in no way to be a baby killer. So I walked away and slept (or didn’t sleep much) in the generator noise for the whole night.

If I went to shut down the generator and the poor baby cried for the whole night (assuming the baby wouldn’t die). Should I be the only criminal of child endangerment or would the dad be, too by knowingly bringing the baby into the situation?


bugs11, February 9, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Yeah it’s a sticky issue. He did say that if someone would have asked him to shut down the generator he would of. Personally I never would mess with someone else’s property like that or would have even thought of that tactic. My guess is who ever did the deed thought to themselves “If I ask them to shut down the generator and they don’t shut it down then I have no recourse, i.e. I can’t sabotage the generator. But if I sabotage the generator, they’ll never know who did it and the generator would be off for the night.” OR they may just have thought “That guys a dick for running his generator. I’m gunna teach him a lesson.” Who knows?


hnschipper, February 9, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Personally, campers/busses with generators are my favorite to camp next to. I’m a white noise sleeper. I sleep with a fan on at home. Battery powered fans do just not generate enough noise to be effective to use as white noise on RAGBRAI. But a camper running a generator? Great white noise!!! I’m the sleeper that wakes up when the camper shuts the generator off at midnight.


Denton Kernodle, February 10, 2018 at 12:44 pm

I have never camped in the “official RAGBRAI” camp, in the past camping in a chartered camp ground. Does the RAGBRAI camp have community tent and chairs, cold drinks and coffee?


Michrider !!!, February 11, 2018 at 7:19 am

[quote quote=1281822]Denton Kernodle, February 10, 2018 at 12:44 pm
I have never camped in the “official RAGBRAI” camp, in the past camping in a chartered camp ground. Does the RAGBRAI camp have community tent and chairs, cold drinks and coffee?[/quote]

Simple but bluntly, NO!!! The only way to be guaranteed those services if with a charter. My favorite Charter is Pork Belly Ventures!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


mootsman, February 11, 2018 at 8:21 am


Last year was my 1st w/PBV. They had in-camp features that were great: bands, free (and good) tap beer, tons of shaded seating, misters for some seating, in-camp meals, am free coffee, a flush toilet trailer + dozens of kybos, $1 soft drinks, great showers and more. I signed up again this year. I understand why you like them so much.

There are lots of great charters with a variety of service and cost levels.


John Richardson, February 11, 2018 at 10:37 am

One of the great thinks about RAGBRAI is you can do the ride the way you prefer. I’m afraid I’m one of those odd balls that prefers to rough it.


Sandaltan ., February 12, 2018 at 11:09 am

There are more ways to do RAGBRAI than to skin the proverbial cat. Anybody remember “No Pay Ray”? He was the pinnacle of cheap. Dinner for Ray might be going to a hospital cafeteria and getting a cup of hot water to which he added packets of ketchup to make tomato soup and then going from table to table and scooping up all the cracker packets for garnish. Ray’s bike tires, tubes and what-ever else came from the trash barrels behind the bike shop trailers.

RIDE RIGHT no, I don’t advocate animal cruelty. I like cats.


cmparsley, February 12, 2018 at 12:43 pm

I have always used either an RV or pull behind camper with our own driver. As the host towns get things set up, they will each have housing applications available online. Each application costs between 2 and 5 dollars to submit. These applications will match you with a host family.

This is our favorite part of RAGBRAI. We have always had hosts every night for the last 10 years. They have let us park our RV on street and plug in to their power. I modified our electric so we have 75′ of cord and we have an adapter to plug into a regular outlet. As long as they have a 20 amp outlet, we have enough power to run the AC and the fridge in the camper.

Most of our group tents it, so they let us use their yard. Most of the time they will let us use their bathroom and shower. In cases where they won’t, we have a shower and a toilet in the RV, and we also travel with a half dozen solar shower bags and a shower tent.

We always take a gift with us for each of our host families for the week. A couple of us brew beer so a gift is usually a card signed by everyone, a six pack of beer, and a nice bottle of wine.

We have had hosts that let us use their swimming pools, hot tubs, and a few times, they even did a few loads of laundry for us! Getting to know people in these towns is a lot of fun for us, and I think they enjoy hearing stories about RAGBRAI from us too.

Give it a try!


John Richardson, February 14, 2018 at 9:59 am

Hmm, Sandaltan I have no memory of “No Pay Ray” but I do remember a person that challenged himself to ride RAGBRAI in a very minimalist way. He rode self contained but just carried a handle bar bag containing only a space blanket, a change of cloths, and a few toiletries. I would run into him almost daily and would always inquire how his ride was going. For the first few days his responses was always positive, but later in the week after a couple rainy nights his positive attitude was eroding away. On the last day he admitted to me that he was never going to try riding RAGBRAI that way again.


SFC JKL 2, February 14, 2018 at 9:58 pm

It’s you’re ride so do it however you want. If you want to make it some kind of “personal challenge”, knock yourself out. I’ll just say at the end of the week there is no prize for having suffered the most.


John Richardson, February 17, 2018 at 10:12 am

SFC JkL2 quite an interesting post. We are all very different and every RAGBRAI rider should ride in the mode that they desire. What you perceive as suffering may be cycling bliss to others. I have a great deal of respect for all the Adaptive Sports Iowa riders, the unicycle riders, the elliptical cyclist, the senior riders, etc,etc. They have all excepted a personal challenge to ride RAGBRAI and I must disagree with you about there not being a prize. They receive the greatest prize ever, the satisfaction of completing their goal and if you are honest with yourself you have tasted it as well when you’ve dipped your tire at the end. I hope you continue to ride your own ride, as will I.


SFC JKL 2, February 17, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Do you think that guy looks back and says “yeah, I did it” or “I was such a dumbass”? Sure, I could ride the week using only my poncho, but I’ll stick with my air mattress and tent. I was happy to dip my tire at the end the first year. I was never worried about making it to the end. Going into year 11, the more I do this, the less important the riding the bicycle has become. For me it’s about the people I meet and the things I get to discover and do. I still love riding my bike (I’m planning on at least 4k miles this year) but in some ways it is a distraction to the times spent off the bike traveling across the state. This is not to take away from the great achievements of some completing the ride. Good for them. But I don’t think most people see getting the the right coast as the reason for being there or a “prize worthy” event.


John Richardson, February 19, 2018 at 10:32 am

I did run into that guy on another ride and I was surprised to hear him boasting about the way he had rode RAGBRAI…. I certainly have to agree that meeting people is a big part of the RAGBRAI experience, so if you pass an old guy riding a black touring bike with black bags and a white helmet give me a shout.


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