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first time rider

Have ridden a couple of legs a couple of years ago. I am hoping to go the whole route for the first time this year. Bucket list thing. I will be riding solo and am planning on using a charter service. Are there normally a lot of solo riders out there? I’m a fairly social person and would like to ride and hang out with other riders without feeling like a uninvited guest. Born and raised Iowan living in warmth of Fla

31 Replies

Barin Beard, March 27, 2017 at 11:11 am

I’ll be a newbie as well and also riding solo. I also signed on with a charter service based on the advice received here. BTW, I’m a New Mexican expat currently in southeast China and I’ve never been to Iowa. Looking forward to it!


prmaxey, March 27, 2017 at 12:06 pm

You will have 18000 new friends. I ride a bright yellow Catrike 559 and usually have my grandson traveling along, say hi as you go by.


jwsknk, March 27, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Pretty much able to strike up a conservation with anyone on the ride or in a line. The register gives you little plastic “license plates” you can write something interesting on so others ask you something. ( I have a Team Skunk one on mine, this year it will have name and 35 tick marks for number of rides) Or you can comment on theirs, or their music, jersey, anything, how about that (wind, hill, what happened in that last town…) Even with so many people if you leave about the same time every day, you can wind up seeing the same people. Barry from Hells Kitchen NY is someone I see several times a week for the past 20+ years. And that’s it.


Nico ZZZ, March 28, 2017 at 10:52 am

Hey BPHawkeye,

Also Waterloo, IA born and FL resident, training with the alligators in the Everglades. I use PBV to handle all the logistics of my RAGBRAI. This will be my third.
I wish more people would use the license plates, as they do help the road conversations get started. Last year I found less conversation on the road, as riders were broken up with the hills. 2014 was an easier week of keeping a conversation going on the flatter terrain, which should be like this year.
Even when I would lose my teammates on the road there was no problem chatting it up with another rider, and at the roadside stops and camp there is all sorts of easy opportunity to meet and chat. To me, that is the best part of RAGBRAI. Or is it the pie? Or is it the craft beer stops? Or the Bloody Mary at 6:30am? Or….


KenH, March 28, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Last year I went with a charter for the first time, the Riverbend Club Charter, and for the first time as a solo rider, my team of usual suspects had abandoned me for the year. The only person I “knew” from the charter was the RAGBRAI coordinator from the club. I knew him only in that he and I chatted a fair bit by email before the ride and due to a recent surgery he did not go on the ride although I did meet him in person finally at the registration table the night before the bus loaded up to take us to the start town.

I met half a dozen folks on the bus ride and pretty much all the rest of the charter group (Riverbend is not a large charter but they are excellent and inexpensive!) by the end of the week. You will have no trouble making friends at RAGBRAI and I say that as someone who is a little on the shy, withdrawn side in person. I suspect you would never know that from my forum posts….

One morning last year I sat down on an empty spot on the curb to enjoy my breakfast and a woman I didn’t know and would not recognize now sat down beside me and instantly struck up a conversation. We talked of many things, including way more than I wanted to know about the conditions she found in the kybo she had just visited and we had a nice breakfast together. In spite of the kybo story. The year before I sat at a table with my usual suspects and we were almost immediately joined by Jesus. He was probably a twenty- or thirty-something who really did look just like the common images you see of Jesus as a young European male with long blond hair. In other words he looked nothing like the real Jesus would have looked! Anyway, he had a ton of stories to tell including one about a young woman who crashed while riding beside him earlier that morning. Since he could see no other reason for her to have crashed he suspected she lost control when she looked over and saw Jesus riding beside her….

If my memory were better I could tell you dozens of other stories but you get the drift. Friends can be made in an instant at RAGBRAI and they can last a lifetime.


BillSpriggs, March 28, 2017 at 8:14 pm

I’ve been a solo rider for the last three years and I will be solo again this year. I ride with PBV and making friends is never a problem.

One of my best days was riding most of the day with Tess from Oregon. Tess was on her way from Oregon to the PA program at the University of Iowa and my daughter works in the health field at Oregon Health Science University so we had something in common. Hope she is doing well on her journey becoming a physician assistant.


mootsman, March 29, 2017 at 8:27 am

This is also my 1st solo RAGBRAI (6th over all) and I’ll be on PBV’s charter. I’m looking forward to meeting many people from around the country.

The name plate can be a conversation starter. I saw 2 guys from Georgia. I asked them about riding the 6 Gap Century which I had ridden several times while visiting family members that live in Georgia. And we talked for some time.


Brian Englert, March 29, 2017 at 11:10 am

Well, another first-time-solo-rider here. I’m using PBV as well.

I’m glad to see so many other solo riders here!


Michrider !!!, March 29, 2017 at 6:18 pm

Brian Englert: Well, another first-time-solo-rider here. I’m using PBV as well.
I’m glad to see so many other solo riders here!

PBV is an excellent choice! I’ll see you PBV people under the Big Axx tent!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


W Fanning, March 29, 2017 at 9:16 pm

PBV seems to be a Great Choice.. I’m a RAGBRAI Virgin also.. I wanted to eliminate some worry in logistics.. so I also picked PBV for my charter.. focus on my new adventure RAGBRAI.. meeting new friends & fun.. see you all in Orange City..


John Fontaine, March 30, 2017 at 4:48 am

I’ll look for you. PRMaxey I will be on a purple trike. See you there!


bphawkeye, March 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

thanks for all the info. just registered for ride and probably gonna go the PBV route. hope everything falls into place


Mike Howe, April 18, 2017 at 1:32 pm

First time rider here as well. Will be riding solo and using PBV (not using their tent service though). Coming from Arizona.


Charlie S, April 19, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Yet another RAGBRAI virgin here.

On the fence about using the Register trucks or charter. One thing that for me may tip the balance to a charter, and specifically PBV, is that they seem to be the only ones with dedicated showers. I’m fine with the handling my own gear, setting up/taking down my own tent and don’t really mind biking for food, beverages and entertainment. I spent enough time sleeping in the dirt without access to a shower (let alone one with hot water) in the Army though.

I’m almost certainly going to be the only one at RAGBRAI who’s bike and hometown share the same name (hint: the bike is Belgian and the town is in Delaware Cty PA).


KenH, April 19, 2017 at 3:19 pm

I’ve never had trouble finding decent showers and PBV will let outsiders use theirs but if you want to go with PBV I doubt you will be disappointed.

I don’t have much hope that there is a Fuji-Absolute-1.0, Illinois for me to move to so that I could match you in that respect but I could easily have my name emblazoned on my tires!


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