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Flying in Sunday morning – getting late start

I recognize that the timing is not ideal, but I will be attending a wedding in Washington DC the Saturday night before RAGBRAI starts. I have a 6:00 a.m. flight that (if all goes well) gets me into Omaha at 9:25 a.m. Sunday morning. I plan to be in my bike clothes, not check a bag, and take a cab or Uber directly to the RAGBRAI start, where my sister will be waiting with our bikes. We are first time riders, and I don’t know what to expect. Can we start that late? Is the course sufficiently marked to allow us to find our way? Any input would be most appreciated.

11 Replies

hnschipper, July 2, 2019 at 9:50 pm

The “starting line” doesn’t close. I’ve never left that late, so I don’t know how many other riders may be leaving around that time. Just know the later you are, you may run the risk of vendors shutting down before you get there.


hnschipper, July 2, 2019 at 9:58 pm

How is your bag being transported to Atlantic? The RAGBRAI baggage truck, and most charters, will be long gone by that time.


Mark Pelley, July 2, 2019 at 10:27 pm

You girls are rebels and I like that!! I too have never started that late but there are so many riders with so many levels of strength and speed. Make sure your phone has the Sunday map and don’t dilly dally and you’ll probably pass up the ones who stop in each town for too long. Worst case, Uber yourself in town. I can tell you want to go river to river though. Good luck and you’ll have lots of fun. Probably more fun starting on day two.


Luv 2 Ski, July 2, 2019 at 11:02 pm

I have never left that late on day 1, 5:30-8:00 is when most will depart. The bonus to your dilemma is that you will be able to cruise right from the start without a lot of bike traffic. The beginning of the first day is always hectic early and you will be well behind the masses.

The service time shut down time is 12:00 at Historic 100 Block in Council Bluffs which is only 4 miles into the ride, and 1:30 at Underwood which is 17 miles in. So if you get on your bike by 10:30-11:00. You should be able to catch up to the back of the pack by Underwood for sure. The meeting town, Avoca, is 38 miles in and depending on how fast you ride you should be able to there when a good crowd is still on hand. From Avoca it is only 19 miles to the Atlantic, the overnight town.

My word of advice is to relax and do not rush but be consistent at the beginning and you will be fine.


francoisvanzyl, July 3, 2019 at 8:56 am

Gravel loop is on Sunday. That will add at least 2 hours for all who do it so you will be catching up with them anyway. You should only be ‘alone’ for a very short time.


Brady Bisgard, July 3, 2019 at 9:24 am

Omaha isn’t a very large airport it should be quite a quick exit. I wouldn’t stress. Like someone said above – as long as you make the cutoff times in each town you will be just fine. Don’t forget “RAGBRAI don’t care” is the attitude for the week!


BillSpriggs, July 3, 2019 at 7:34 pm

You might want to check with the Council Bluffs P.D. to see if there are any street closures and what might be the best place for you to meet up with the rest of your party.


jwsknk, July 4, 2019 at 12:19 am

Route arrows will still be up, some florescent color background. 1 color with black arrow says bikes, a different color says vehicles. But chances are there will be some other bikes still heading out. The closing time is when the last sag wagon pickup is and vendors shut down.


Marla Shifflett, July 10, 2019 at 7:58 pm

The last time we rode into Atlantic (from Glenwood) my daughter and I started at about 10:00AM. We still had plenty of company on the road. The only “drawback” will be that the pie vendors will be out of pie, and if it’s a hot day you’ll be riding all day in the heat of the day. Stay hydrated and stay cool and you’ll be just fine! Have a great trip to Iowa!


Lodie, July 11, 2019 at 9:54 am

Not to worry. Our first year (2012) we really didn’t have a freaking clue so we showed up on Sunday morning about 9:30, quite surprised to find most people gone. We had not wanted to camp that Saturday night. There are however still plenty of people around and you will find the route without difficulty. There are a million ways to do RAGBRAI and very few of them wrong. FYI, as someone told us that year, you don’t need to worry about being too far behind unless Team Bad Boy passes you. Congratulations on choosing RAGBRAI, your life will never be the same. Have a fantastic time. I have the cornhawk on my helmet, say hi if you see me.


tjmiller01, July 11, 2019 at 12:32 pm

You will be fine. Just be sure to know the route out of Council Bluffs since in Town there won’t be other bikers that you can easily see where the route goes. Watch closely for vehicles too since the roads might be opened up in town.


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