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Fly or Drive

This will be my first RAGBRAI and I am coming out with my 16-year-old daughter who brought the event to my attention. We are from the Boston area and were considering whether to make a road trip out of it or fly out. I’d appreciate any insight from some of the veterans. How is parking at the end of the event?


31 Replies

Uncle Kraig, November 27, 2021 at 3:19 pm

If time is not an issue, a drive out with your daught would probably turn out to be a great bonding time; not to mention the following week on RAGBRAI. You could drive to the end town. There will be plenty of long term parking there for a modest fee. You then hitch a ride with one of the MANY charters, busses, etc heading to the start town. You then spend 7 greatest days of your life riding your bikes back to your car. Then another nice drive back home with your daughter reflecting on the week. If time is an issue, you could fly into either the end town if it is near the quad cities or into Des Moines and again catch a charter / bus to the start town. Welcome to the ride!


LawnchairMan, November 27, 2021 at 7:57 pm

Watermelon is one of my incentives for driving to the end-town. Muscatine has the best, so if we end anywhere near there I grab several melons to bring home.
And Iowa corn of course!

This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by LawnchairMan.


Evin Thompson, November 28, 2021 at 5:14 am

Welcome to RAGBRAI
Parking at the end town is not an issue. Parking is always convenient to any charter going out west to the start town. End towns will have camping available the night before leaving on the charter out west. Depending on the size of the end town if you want to stay at a hotel that might be challenging.

It all depends on the time you have and cost of travel you have to spend.

I am from southern VA. I have driven myself, car-pooled, taken the train and flown and sometimes a combination of the all those. It all depends on the time you have to travel to and from RAGBRAI. I hope someday to even take a cruise ship up the Mississippi to get to RAGBRAI.

While RAGBRAI is a great vacation and adventure on its own, getting them can also be part of the experience.


NinaDanza, November 28, 2021 at 7:09 pm

I’m probably taking the Amtrak California Zephyr from Ventura CA. Careful of my CO2 emissions.


stevecycles200, November 29, 2021 at 10:28 am

I am coming out from California and planning on driving. For me, I enjoy a good road trip, and since RAGBRAI might not be enough cycling, I am thinking about a couple of stops on the way home to take a bit of a ride!


Larry Klaaren, November 29, 2021 at 10:33 am

As to the question you asked, parking at the end town is not a problem. They usually have lots reserved with some security. When I have used it, it was the parking lot at a college that was not in session and it was right by the charter I used to get to the start town. Be sure to find your ride to the start town first and then arrange the parking and they can make it convenient for you.


luckylu, December 7, 2021 at 6:14 pm

This will be my first RAGBRAI and Im driving up from Alabama… Should be a great road trip since I can stop and visit family along the way.


iveaux3, December 8, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Definitely drive. Park at the end town. Use one of the charters to shuttle you to the start town. Easy logistics


Chris, December 11, 2021 at 3:17 pm

Hey GrayRaver:

Welcome to the zoo!

We’re in New Hampshire (near Portsmouth), so we’re in your neck of the woods.
Been doing this a few years, now, so, a few suggestions:

Drive. At least for the first year. I’d strongly suggest dropping down into NJ/PA and taking Route 80 out to Iowa. There’s a lot more rest areas and hotels on Route 80 though PA than though New York State. You end up taking 80 out in Ohio anyway. Depending on the start town, the trip is anywhere from 18-22 hours.

I’d not suggest driving straight though. We’ve done that, and, well, it strains nerves. Like others have said, take this as a unique opportunity to spend time with your daughter, not be rough around the edges with her. We usually drive to somewhere near Toledo the first day, then wake up early on Friday and head the rest of the way in. Its not a bad drive. Alternatively, routing through Canada is possible (adds about two hours on the trip). We haven’t had the chance to try that route, though.

Park at the end town and take a charter service to the start town. A lot of advantages to doing it that way: less driving for you when it’s time to come home, easier logistics on the last day. We’ve used Brancel Charters for almost a decade now and would highly recommend them. The side advantage to this is that you’re in a bus with lots of folks who love to talk and will give you all sorts of advice if you ask, kinda like here!

Be prepared for the best week you’ve had in recent memory. Summer Camp for Adults, indeed.

See you in July.


garywilk, December 12, 2021 at 7:17 am

RAGBRAI is way more than a bicycle ride. Driving and spending the day at the end town is just a bonus day. It is about making new friends and enjoying life. Last year was my dad, younger brother and his son in his 20’s. I think it was my dad’s 25th time. I am for sure doing it again but not sure who from the family can make it. Just make sure not to try to rush thing when you are waiting in a long line, which will happen a lot during the week. Look at it as a way to talk with your daughter or make a new friend with someone next to you in line.


GrayRaver, December 14, 2021 at 8:35 pm

I want to thank everyone who has chimed in so far with wonderful advice! Please keep the thoughts coming and we will see you all in July!


T. Gap Woo, December 18, 2021 at 12:00 pm

I second all of the recommendations that you drive out from metro Boston with your daughter, if at all feasible. What a great opportunity for daddy-daughter bonding!

Taking I-80 is a great idea. To get to I-80 and avoid the congestion around NYC/northern NJ, I recommend taking I-90 to I-86/I-84 through Hartford CT to I-81 in Scranton PA south to I-80.

Mrs Woo and I take I-80 from northeast PA to northeast Ohio, spend a few days visiting family and limbering up on my Trek in the Western Reserve hills, before heading west to the Quad Cities area. We stay overnight, before heading west to the starting town, arriving the day before the expo.

Mrs Woo is my support driver, who drives a parallel route while I bike. At the end of the week, we stay overnight in the Quad Cities area, resting up for the drive back to northeast Ohio. After another visit with family, we drive back home to northeast PA. It’s a nice two week vacation!

Besides many memories, we bring back a case of strawberry rhubarb wine. For some reason, we can only find an abundant supply of this wine west of the Mississippi River, although there is one winery in West Virginia we found in our meanderings. Too bad they cannot ship out-of-state 😩. We’ll resupply next summer.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my Ragbrai brethren and sistern. See you along the I-O-Way in 2022.


Larry Klaaren, December 20, 2021 at 11:15 am

Besides many memories, we bring back a case of strawberry rhubarb wine. For some reason, we can only find an abundant supply of this wine west of the Mississippi River, although there is one winery in West Virginia we found in our meanderings.

If you drop off the interstate in Indiana or Ohio, and go to an Amish area, you will most likely find this.

BTW, you will find lesser lines if you get a block or two off the route at a church or Legion or something like that. I had a feast for breakfast for $5.00 at a church last time, not as many people as expected were coming by, and it became all you can eat. I am able to give a little more, so I did, but sometimes they don’t ask for a lot at the churches.


T. Gap Woo, December 20, 2021 at 9:20 pm

Good evening, Larry!

Thanks for your suggestion re visiting Amish areas in search of strawberry rhubarb wine. Mrs Woo and I have searched in the Amish areas of Lancaster County PA, and Holmes and Geauga Counties in OH, to no avail. These areas are the largest Amish communities between our home and the Mississippi River on our way west. We’ll just have to restock (or overstock!) next summer.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you along the I-O-Way in 2022.


Larry Klaaren, December 21, 2021 at 9:05 am

The Seven Mountains Wine Cellars has strawberry rhubarb wine for sale. It is $14 a bottle. They have a website and can ship, at least in Pennsylvania. I googled it and a couple of other places showed up.
GPS Address
324 Decker Valley Rd,
Spring Mills, PA 16875

Mailing Address:
107 Mountain Springs Lane
Spring Mills, PA 16875

Happy riding!


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