Day 1 was boring:empty countryside

My girlfriend’s parents could only ride on day 1 and they were pretty excited after our tales of all the fun things to do along the route in town and out in the countryside. But then day 1, there was just nothing to do outside of the towns, no vendors even. So we rode 12 miles between towns with nothing to do out there, no place to get food/drinks. Then the tiny towns were just super packed and they didn’t even have water bottle fill stations!

Let’s never to that ‘no vendors outside of towns’ thing again because it really made the day much less fun.

18 Replies

hnschipper, August 1, 2018 at 9:18 am

The “boring, empty countryside” is one of the draws of RAGBRAI for me. I grew up in Iowa, and think it’s a beautiful state, and I have seen more of it on RAGBRAI than I ever did while living in Iowa. Vendors being out in the country between towns aren’t what makes the ride fun for me. I had no trouble finding water bottle fill stations in pass through towns – I didn’t buy a bottle of water all day; I only filled up at the water bottle fill stations.


David, August 1, 2018 at 11:51 am

Day 1 seemed fine. The gravel loop wasn’t boring on a road bike.

I don’t remember any towns that didn’t have a water fill station. They are usually just as you are leaving town.

There were a few vendors along the route outside town. Around mile 61 was a beer tent at a farm. I usually stop at roadside vendors as well. But in the end day 1 was pretty well done.


Cory Rood, August 1, 2018 at 2:47 pm

[quote quote=1294619]Day 1 seemed fine. The gravel loop wasn’t boring on a road bike.

I don’t remember any towns that didn’t have a water fill station. They are usually just as you are leaving town.

There were a few vendors along the route outside town. Around mile 61 was a beer tent at a farm. I usually stop at roadside vendors as well. But in the end day 1 was pretty well done.[/quote]

Where was the fill stations in Ute and Soldier? I wandered and asked in both towns and never found them.


bugs11, August 1, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Ute was a hoot. I picked up one of their very interestingly decorated koozies. I thought the loess hills were beautiful.


Mike Howe, August 1, 2018 at 5:45 pm

If they didnt have a water refill station then go to one of the many vendors and buy a bottle of water for a $1. Lots of complaining by people who seem very entitled or who think ragbrai is supposed to cater to their every want and need. I give ragbrai another year or two before it unfortunately takes a complete turn for the worst due to people not having realistic expectations of what ragbrai is and was.


BarryTantlinger, August 1, 2018 at 11:58 pm

I would have to agree the first day was disappointing. Ragbrai didn’t start for me until I stopped on the side of the road for a whiskey shot on the second morning.


jwsknk, August 2, 2018 at 7:51 am

I did miss K of K&B Bagels this year. Been stopping at her stand since she was a college student and now her daughter. Heard the coffee vendor she was with the past few years decided not to come this year SPECULATION it was the roadside vendor ban in the first two counties. I was surprised they found such a flat was through the Loess Hills, so that excuse of poor sightlines and no places to set up seems kind of lame


Vlad Yusseem, August 2, 2018 at 9:22 am

Mike Howe. Common, free tap water is not “catering to their every want and need” or “not having realistic expectations of what ragbrai is and was” :)


Anonymous, August 5, 2018 at 1:34 am

We didn’t see any in Turin so we asked a volunteer in Soldier and were told that there was no free bottle fill. Also water bottles were $2 in Soldier. Not a huge deal but nobody likes being treated like a living credit card.


Anonymous, August 5, 2018 at 2:09 am

Also, I like to drink 40oz of water in each town as a rule (empty each of my 20oz bottles, then refill). If there are 15k riders that drink/fill up with 24oz of water (2 bottles) in each town that’s 30k empty plastic bottles per town, a totally unnecessary environmental catastrophe.


jake d, August 5, 2018 at 3:40 pm

This thread started out as Day 1 being boring, empty countryside, and somehow morphed into no free water in towns. The countryside on day one was anything but boring.
I’m not crazy about riding the Loess Hills, but they do offer some fantastic panoramic views. Provided you slow down and take in the whole experience. Ragbrai is about getting on your bike in the morning, riding to the next town, and deciding your going to have a good time doing it no matter what.
As for the water, deal with it . By any measure Day 1 was flat out EASY. That goes for every level of rider in our group and charter, 100+. If the no water trend had continued all week, that would be a different story.


LawnchairMan, August 5, 2018 at 8:12 pm

Day one was fine for me. Went by too quickly to be boring. Only averaged 16.6 mph, but for 43 miles it didn’t take long.
Water was not an issue as I had twelve ounces with breakfast in camp, and I carry about 60 ounces in my Camelbak. I had a big pulled pork sandwich in Charter Oak with a fruit drink.
Not far out of town there was a watermelon stand, so I stopped there. That made me over-hydrated.
I look for four foods at Ragbrai: pulled pork, watermelon, sweet corn and pie. So, two of those were met that first day. Not a bad start in my opinion.


JLVanPelt, August 6, 2018 at 6:48 am

I agree that like most of these threads on the forum, this one strayed from the topic. I think the original author was not saying that the gorgeous Iowa scenery stunk but rather the rep of RAGBRAI as being a big party on wheels with crazy antics, pop up parties and general hilarity didn’t deliver. I’ve known people who rode the final day of many years only to be disappointed by the “let’s get done so we don’t miss our bus at 3pm” mentality of cyclists and vendors alike. As for Day One, I had fun but I wouldn’t say it was a blast. I am not sure if it was short mileage, lack of roadside vendors or just a change in the atmosphere that is killing the party of RAGBRAI. I just started six RAGBRAIs ago but have seen very little of the craziness I heard about over the last decades. Many a KYBO line discussion with young adults began with “I thought this was a lot more party and a lot less try to get back to camp before the baggage truck arrives” And before anyone goes nuts about drinking and cycling, I nor my team have no desire to get drunk and try to ride 65 miles although a cold beer along the way is most refreshing and if that is part of our RAGBRAI experience and we are responsible and safe riders, I don’t believe a county board should make that decision for us. We played games and jumped in pools made of hay bales but I would agree that even in the six years I’ve ridden, the party seems to be dying. If this ride is to continue and and have a succession plan (aka younger demographic) I think we need to figure that piece out.


Jill Ellenbecker, August 6, 2018 at 8:04 pm

I was looking for a water bottle fill in Soldier and was allowed to use the faucet inside the fire department, but I was a little surprised there wasn’t a filling station like other towns had. I only have 2017 to compare, but Day 1 this year did have a different vibe.


Niles, August 6, 2018 at 8:24 pm

Two factors I can think of:

1.) Day One is too short. It is especially bad for newbies because they are are little cautious of party/festive aspect of RAGBRAI in the beginning and more focus on riding aspect. Before they know, the day is already over.

2.) Making things worse, no road side vendors. It discouraged people to stop/slow down along the way. Then when they got into a town, the town became over crowded and basically pushed riders to leave the town sooner.


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