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Food Question

I am plotting my dining options. I want to concentrate on church suppers for my evening meals. Any suggestions for the best type?
What is the best breakfast?

Lunch will be when I experiment.


10 Replies

Mike Howe, February 19, 2019 at 6:02 pm

The best breakfast in my opinion is the family (forget the name of their food tent) that sells all you can eat pancakes and sausage for around $6-$7. Theyre usually in the first or second pass through town.


mootsman, February 19, 2019 at 7:17 pm

Be careful what and how much you eat before and during the ride. It can impact your systems ability to quickly absorb fluids and could cause dehydration especially on hot days. Always replenish your fluids before eating so they can be absorbed quickly. Especially on hot days I only drink non-dairy fruit smoothies during the ride. Plus of course I replenish electrolytes. I delay eating any heavier foods for the last pass through town.


dalebob, February 19, 2019 at 8:02 pm

I always stop at Chris Cakes in the morning. Is that the one you were thinking of Mike Howe? The line is always long but it provides ample opportunity to meet and chat if that is your thing. Not sure what the coffee situation is with them as I don’t drink it, but there is usually a coffee place set up along the route in the morning also.
As far as the church suppers, I live for the lasagna meal with garlic bread, salad and pie. We found beef and noodles served over mashed potatoes once. That was a good day. They do run out so try to get there soon after they start serving.


Sandaltan ., February 19, 2019 at 9:03 pm

We look for Mike and his Slipstream Granola over yogurt covered with blueberries in the morning.
“Slipstream Organics was born out of a collaboration between Heidi Weiser, a pastry chef from Colorado, and Mike Winnike of Slipstream Cycling, a bike shop located in Fort Madison, Iowa. Slipstream Organics began doing business in the Spring of 2013.”
Slipstream may be our first or second breakfast, but then who is counting?



SFC JKL 2, February 19, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Farm Kids (formerly Farm Boys) Normally at a house along the route but occasionally in town. Breakfast burrito and the only vendor selling Diet Coke on the route. The line will be huge but it goes very fast.
Country Delights is also very good. Smokin’ G’s BBQ (small white trailer) for burnt ends at the meeting town or later. If you are looking for a healthy alternative, try a Hy-Vee salad bar.


Larry Klaaren, February 20, 2019 at 9:34 am

You will be able to find whatever you want. Looking for food at Ragbrai is like looking for a Yankee Fan in New York. Unless you are vegetarian, then it can get dicey on the days we don’t go through larger towns. Even then there was a salad bar vendor last year. He looked like he was not busy much of the time. I had the pancake breakfast, the Farm Kids, and some street vendor breakfasts and they were all great. About Thursday I started eating breakfast at churches because . . . flush toilets.
If I gave advice it would be to have some snack or fruit early and eat breakfast in the second or third town and you will have less line as many people stop and eat before they leave or somewhere around the first town. I usually save a couple pieces of fruit and a granola bar from the night before. I don’t plan my eating or drinking, I just listen to my body. After 65 years I know what I need and want. That doesn’t mean I wait until I am thirsty to drink, I just get a sense that it would be a good idea. Water is the best drink if you eat well, your body will apportion as needed. Sports drinks are fine, but frankly the sugar can mess some people up. Like me, my hunger intensifies as my sugar spikes and falls.


KenH, February 20, 2019 at 10:04 am

Chris Cakes is great for pancakes and they often seem to be working in conjunction with local organizations the last few years so I think some of the proceeds stay in the local communities. You can often find completely local organizations selling cakes too. IMHO it doesn’t get any better than Farm Kids for breakfast, first or second. Breakfast Delights is similar.

Occasionally I have gotten a church dinner that was meh. Mostly they are good, nearly home cooked meals that will not leave you hungry. However, they do sell out. You might even want to go to the church dinner before the shower truck which has two advantages: 1) you get a church dinner, 2) sometimes, not always, the shower lines are shorter after dinner than before. Don’t worry, the rest of us smell that way too!

Some towns have enough restaurants to serve as many of us as want to use them. Some do not. But even though they are not charities they are fine local people so consider using them as well. I’ve had very fine restaurant meals at RAGBRAI.

Keep an eye on the roadside signs as you ride. You will see many dining opportunities listed in the upcoming town(s) and they are often local groups or businesses. Yes, you can get church meals during the day, they are not limited to the overnight towns. Another way to get a head’s up about dining opportunities is to read/print out/store on your phone the day by day pre-ride reports that will come out in June, 50 days before the ride. They will highlight many local food vendors for you to consider. When you arrive in the overnight town and someone wants to hand you a newspaper style flyer for the town’s offerings TAKE ONE! They are usually great guides to the local food offerings.

Stop at Beekmans for ice cream at least twice, even if the lines are long. Leading nutrition experts recommend Beekmans once a day in fact but many of you won’t want to wait in line there that much. I don’t have that problem. In fact my wife was looking at the Beekmans website one day and spotted one, maybe two, photos there where I could be seen waiting in line! There is an Amish group that often sets up just before Beekmans to sell their ice cream and pies. You MUST stop there once or twice during the week too.

There are many commercial vendors who tag along with the ride every day. Some are Iowa based, like Mr. Porkchop, others may be from out of state. You MUST stop at least once at Mr. Porkchop and if you do be sure to get a lemon slushie! There is no need to shun them, no need at all. Just give some economic love to the locals too.

The best advice about eating is to go on long rides before RAGBRAI and work out what eating strategy works for you. We are all different, what works so well for mootsman would have me bonking mid afternoon every day. What works for me is to eat just like I eat every day except more often and more of it and that would leave mootsman bloated and listless. So YOU need to work out what works FOR YOU and you need to do that before the ride.


jelly0317, February 20, 2019 at 11:44 am

Please don’t follow the above advice regarding eating at a church dinner before showering. We may smell bad all day, but there’s no reason to spoil everyone’s appetite at dinner by stinking up the joint.


KenH, February 20, 2019 at 3:25 pm

I’ll be heading for the shower by the time you are heading for the dinner so no problem. I just hope they have some left for you!


jayteeme, February 22, 2019 at 2:04 am

It’s a strange thing; I can’t smell body odor coming off of (most) people on RAGBRAI, even though everyone must smell. I think your nose just gets used to the natural smell of human. That smells out of place to us normally because we live in an unnatural soaped and perfumed world.


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