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Debating on sitting this one out…

I already bought my 2023 ticket but I am debating refunding it and sitting this one out. I’ve done 2 RAGBRAIs solo (2020 and 2022). Veteran riders always tell me RAGBRAI is just not the same as it was back in the day and even I saw a significant decline between my 2020 and 2022 rides.

My main issue with 2022 was how expensive it had gotten. In 2020 I could easily find an egg burrito for $4-5 and it was huge. In 2022, multiple vendors were selling egg burritos for $15-20 and they weren’t even good. I remember paying $12 for a hamburger and it was worse than a McDonalds hamburger. Un-melted cheese, mediocre meat paddy, etc. There were a few really good stops but they were hard to find and luck of the draw. At the end I spend nearly 3 times more than I did in 2020 and felt it wasn’t worth the cost.

Another issue is the task of taking work off means this trip has hidden costs. In my case I need to take 5 days of work off, so ultimately throwing away around $800 of income plus the registration and cost of RAGBRAI itself. In 2022, after getting home and doing the math, I felt it was not worth it. I had already done RAGBRAI once at that point, and RAGBRAI #2 was more of the same with much much higher costs. By the end I was totally burnt out and remember telling my friend who picked me up “Not doing this again unless you go with next year, twice was enough”.

Yet here I am, feeling like I want to do it again, but knowing it just won’t be as great as my first RAGBRAI, and probably even more expensive than 2022. Anyone else debating sitting this one out?

33 Replies

Rob Fuller, February 28, 2023 at 3:52 pm

I was disappointed with $8 beers on RAG ’22 but what-do-ya-know, $8 turned out to be the going rate for festival beers at my state fair. In contrast $8 will get us a cold six pack from Hyvee.


Jesse A, March 1, 2023 at 5:30 pm

The fact that we’re riding through relatively large towns make the trip more attractive to me. Instead of paying $8 for a beer in the town square I’ll only need to bike less than a mile out of the way to get the same beer at half the price. Same thing for groceries, water, and even dinner. You could probably get a well-priced steak delivered to your tent via Uber Eats in Des Moines!

Just bring along a bike rack to haul your to-go order to the campsite and you’re golden.


Portland Cyclist PDX, March 1, 2023 at 5:36 pm

I agree that this route, with the larger cities, will provide cheaper alternatives just a few blocks out from the main gathering areas especially at the end of the ride. For example, there will be plenty of opportunities to stock up at grocery stores in host towns. Personally, I prefer to mostly eat along the route as opposed to stocking up on food.

The fact that we’re riding through some of the largest cities in the state makes this route REALLY attractive to me. I skipped last year but I’m pumped for July!

This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Portland Cyclist PDX.


Jboz, March 1, 2023 at 7:11 pm

not gonna lie, this one has me scratching my head a little and feels like the OP has an axe to grind and isn’t really that into Ragbrai. yeah, stuff costs money, and yeah, some vendors gouge. the fact that someone was selling $15 burritos is a really dumb reason to skip Ragbrai. move onto the next vendor, look for a better deal, or as others have mentioned, a Hyvee or even Casey’s. I rode a few blocks off the main drag and saw a guy with a grill in his driveway cooking bratwurst…I think he wanted $3, I gave him $5. Last ride I budgeted $100 per day for food and beverages (I like to over-prepare)…I didn’t even come close to exceeding it. Ragbrai is a vacation. Unless you choose to vacation at home in your front yard complete with lawn chair and sprinkler, you are going to spend money…and probably a lot more than you will on Ragbrai.


AgingCyclist, March 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

This is my first RAGBRAI and after spending a bunch on registration, plane fare etc. these comments are giving me doubts. What are charter users? They sound gloomy. I was looking forward to an enormous bunch of jolly riders but from what I’m reading the camping arrangement sound zoo like and no fun at all. I’ve done plenty of long distance touring mainly solo. Tell me it’s worth doing please.


Joseph Schlau, March 25, 2023 at 5:44 am

Aging Cyclist

Before going much further, let’s look at Ben Quistroff. Four weeks ago, he started this post, and right out of the box, got it wrong by claiming to have ridden in 2020 when there was no ride.

When riders come to this or any forum to complain and 17 other people respond, I would at least expect some answer or debate in return. He never corrected his 2020 blunder, nor answered any other comments.

Now there is a Facebook profile for a person by the same name residing in Iowa. This 20 something describes himself as an employee of Kum and Go. Whether they are one and the same is unknown, but may explain all the complaints about finances and prices if they are.

I would surmise from your screen name that you are well out of your 20’s and have a bit more life experience than Ben. Your touring experience has undoubtedly exposed you to all sorts of road and weather conditions so long hot/cold rainy/sunny days with hills and wind will not be a new experience for you.

Without posting at length about the various camping options, I would invite you to carefully read the information on this RAGBRAI site. You may also find some of the Just Go Bike podcasts, particularly the ones describing the route helpful.

You may also want to look up some of the YouTube videos posted by Ryan Duzer, an experienced touring rider as well as a RAGBRAI veteran. There are plenty of other videos describing both the campground and charter experiences and perks.

My first RAGBRAI was in 2004, so you have an idea where my sentiments are. Over the years, my RAGBRAI experience has changed riding first with a charter, a long time with a team, and now as another aging cyclist, on a tour bike, riding across Illinois, Iowa, RAGBRAI, and Wisconsin.

Ride from Sioux City to at least Des Moines. If it is just the worst experience of your life, rent a car and bail out. I’m thinking though, you will be dipping your tires in the Mississippi at both Muscatine and Davenport.


jelly0317, March 25, 2023 at 8:53 pm

Aging Cyclist: With a few exceptions, RAGBRAI is whatever you make it. As the old saying goes, “If you’re not having fun, lower your standards.” My advice after 38 RAGBRAIs is roll with the punches; if you encounter anything negative, try to make it as positive an experience as possible. Waiting in a long line can lead to unforgettable conversations. Enjoy each day; the week goes by incredibly quickly.


AMaliar, March 25, 2023 at 9:37 pm

Aging Cyclist — Consider RAGBRAI “Sturgis” for cyclists if you know what that is. This will be my third ride and I keep coming back for more. Just think of it as a week’s vacation from work where you can kick back and “chill” on a bike. You can either ride at your own pace leisurely or race with your team. It does go by fairly quick so take in the scenery as much as you can and enjoy Iowa nice. You’ll be back for more. They all come back.


Ben There, March 26, 2023 at 10:13 am

Aging Cyclist – Truth is it could be the worst week of your life, if you let it be. The other truth is that tens of thousands of people keep coming back every year for 50 years. It is what you make it.


garywilk, March 27, 2023 at 8:30 am

I posted earlier about the costs going up but besides that, I think it will still be a very enjoyable experience. And in reality, compared to other vacation spots, they really are not that bad. Look for the local places and the food and other items will be great and usually at a very reasonable price. Our family has done this many times over the years and all of us are really looking forward to it again. From my nephew in his 20’s, brother and me in our 50’s, and dad in his late 70’s. If you keep a positive attitude, you will have a lot of fun no matter your age. Again it is a week long event so do not get frustrated if you have to wait in a line for 10 minutes or more and you will have a blast. See you in July


Kate Perkins, April 2, 2023 at 10:33 am

16 years for me. I felt like 2021 wasn’t very ragbrai. It didn’t have much of that fun ragbrai spirit, our host families didn’t let us into their houses, and honestly, I felt like maybe it was time for me to move on. Various things happened in 2022 that resulted in me riding again, and it was completely different than 2021! The much better weather helped, but the towns and the people, bikers and non bikers seemed much happier, more relaxed, more glad to be there. Don’t let 2021 be your deciding factor. Any event can have an off year. I’m from Chicago, and we are used to saying “anyone (Cubs) can have an off century” so maybe I am more forgiving.


Rob Fuller, April 2, 2023 at 11:10 am

In thinking further, Id rather wait in a long line with a bunch of RAGBRAI riders for an $8 beer than spend a moment in a car in traffic. I’m cutting back just a bit these days (while also training) so I can enjoy everything come RAG ’23


kennymadsen, April 16, 2023 at 10:10 am

I live in Vermont and have ridden in 7 Ragbrai’s. 3 from Sioux City. I so totally agree with you sitting this one out. I have to drive from Burlington VT to the starting point. Through Chicago, Buffalo, Moline and the gas cost food and exorbitant parking fees each year are now prohibitive to me as I am living on a very fixed income. I drive myself as most people don’t “get” Ragbrai here. Good look.


KenH, April 17, 2023 at 11:11 am

I’ve ridden every year since 2012, including 2020. Of course 2020 was a do it yourself, do it where you live, virtual ride. Prices are going up everywhere, things are changing everywhere, nothing is the same as it used to be. RAGBRAI is not immune to the changes that are sweeping around the world. It is still very good however. Due to this year’s size and the significant anniversary this will be a week like no other. It will be better, it will be worse, it will be very different, it will be exactly the same depending on what ride feature you are considering at any given moment. It’s going to be a be prepared to roll with the punches ride. Those who are able to do that will have a grand time, I am sure, whether they think it is the best RAGBRAI ever or not at the end. In that particular respect it will be the same as every other RAGBRAI!

There are state rides in Ohio and Georgia (and others?) for those on the east coast to consider if you want something different this or any year. There are state rides scattered all throughout the country now, thanks to RAGBRAI. None are exactly the same, all have their charms. If RAGBRAI is too this or too that for your tastes then you might find another ride to be exactly what you want. Iowa and RAGBRAI are justifiably proud of their ride and one of its major accomplishments is that it has inspired many other rides in other states and perhaps in other countries.


Matt, April 17, 2023 at 12:41 pm

Granted the amenities are different for each, but they are all similar camping/bicycling/etc events. It’s unfortunate that everything is getting more expensive (especially lately) and will force some to sit it out. It’s sad to miss the awesomeness.
I’m sure if we delved into the cost of this, that, or the other expense for each, that the prices would balance out somewhat. However, RAGBRAI is not outpacing these others.
RAGBRAI $250 Week
Bicycle Ride Across Wisconsin $235 2 day
Bicycle Ride Across Kansas $335 Week
Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska $375 Week
Bicycle Across South Carolina $425 3 day
Bicycle Ride Across Missouri $450 Week
Bicycle Ride Across Georgia $500 Week
Great Annual Bicycling Adventure Along the Wisconsin River $500 Week
Ride the Rockies $600 Week
Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee $700 Week


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