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Forced route through towns?

Were riders forced through pass-through towns this year? In 2019 I was upset that there were barricades on the roads to force riders into the towns. One town had a tractor-trailer rig blocking the road. Was there anything like that this time? Just curious.

22 Replies

Derek Eilderts, August 13, 2021 at 1:29 pm

I recall Lake City had concrete barriers blocking Hwy 175 and directing us through a neighborhood to get to downtown. But I would say forced is perhaps too strong of a word. Anyone with a good sense of direction could have turned onto any side street and made their own way. And upon entering most towns I saw riders ask local law enforcement for an alternate way through.


LawnchairMan, August 13, 2021 at 3:40 pm

I suppose I could have crawled under the trailer, or gone into the ditch to skirt it, but it wasn’t much of a choice. If memory serves, there was only one way into the town and another way out. It felt forced. I was worried that it would be a trend. Thanks, Derek, for letting me know how it was this year. It doesn’t sound as bad.


klkoopman, August 13, 2021 at 3:43 pm

All you have to do is ride down the “back” street parallel to Main Street.

This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by klkoopman.


Mike Murphy, August 14, 2021 at 8:02 pm

I think all towns should force you to ride through. I don’t spend much time in the towns (beat my charters baggage truck in twice this year), however I think if the towns went to the effort to be a passthrough town we should see what they have.


LawnchairMan, August 15, 2021 at 12:41 pm

Mike, I respect your opinion, but I disagree. I keep hearing that we can do Ragbrai the way we want. I make a point of stopping at kids’ lemonade stands, or if I see something interesting. If towns want to entice us to stop, then that’s great. They could put up signage miles ahead that tells what’s special. I remember Eagle Grove had a guy in an eagle costume in a tree before town! They could make an archway of balloons or old bikes. Do anything to create interest. When they block the highway to force me in, I just want to avoid them more. I don’t want to be forced through all the stores at the mall if I’m just looking for shoes. Stopping should be MY choice! That’s my opinion.


KenH, August 16, 2021 at 8:39 am

So, towns spend countless hours over a year planning. They beat the bushes to find volunteers. They pour their hearts into this event. They invest their money into this event and don’t always make it back. They treat us like family the day we show up.

But we can’t be bothered unless they meet the personal “create interest” standards of each of the 15,000 or so riders? We get bent out of shape if we are “forced” to take their route through their town and pass by their local vendors who are trying to make enough money to justify the effort they put in and to justify doing it again the next time they are asked? We aren’t smart enough to figure out that no one is actually making us stop, they are just asking us to take a look at the places where we might want to stop? We aren’t charitable enough to pay them back 0.0001% of the time, effort, and money they put into this ride by merely looking at what they have to offer? We are such little babies that we need giant signs every mile for miles, carefully crafted artwork prepared just for us, and strategically placed entertainers to convince us to make the effort to appreciate what they have done for us? And then when we have bypassed everything they have done for us will we complain that they didn’t have a bottle filling station and kybos on the bypass route that we used to demonstrate our contempt for their efforts? We expect the entire state of Iowa to cater to us because it is all about ME, ME, ME?

I don’t see how anyone who has done this ride even once can miss the point of what is going on here so badly. Yes you can do RAGBRAI the way you want but there are times when you should want to give back to Iowa the same consideration that they have given to you. It’s a wonder that RAGBRAI continues year after year because we don’t deserve this ride!


Amanda, August 16, 2021 at 10:05 am

Amen KenH! I agree 1000%- never was good in math, but you get my drift. I love the opportunity to get off my bike and look at the each town. You never know what you might miss! And to restate what Ken said – Yes you can do RAGBRAI the way you want but there are times when you should want to give back to Iowa the same consideration that they have given to you. It’s a wonder that RAGBRAI continues year after year because we don’t deserve this ride!


Sandaltan ., August 16, 2021 at 2:39 pm

Yeah, Ken has it right as seconded by Amanda, a lot of people go to a lot of work for us, I don’t mind the walk through town anymore than I mind listening to commercials on the radio or watching commercials on TV.



RDaryl Daryl, August 16, 2021 at 3:48 pm

So True –
Its about the journey, not the destination.
Especially for those of us who are not lucky enough to live in Iowa.


LawnchairMan, August 16, 2021 at 4:04 pm

I believe I do give my patronage to Ragbrai towns. Perhaps I didn’t fully explain myself in my last post. As I said, I search for kids’ lemonade stands, whether they are in town or along the way. I usually only need to stop for food or fluids once along the route. If that happens near a town on the route, then that’s great. Sometimes I fill my needs at stands along the road. Should I not patronize Mr. Pork Chop so I will be hungry in the next town?
The signage I remember most was for Granma’s Pies. It was on my first or second Ragbrai where there were simple signs posted ten miles ahead and several more until there. It piqued my interest, so I stopped and had two fabulous pieces of pie alamode. I assumed they were made by a local grandma or two.
Ken, you were obviously responding to my post since you quoted words I used of “create interest” and “forced”. So, I don’t understand the issues of water filling stations or kybos. I didn’t mention those at all. You seem to have gone on a rant that isn’t entirely directed at me.
As for the “all about Me”, I may be somewhat guilty. My goal is to have a good ride, good food, and see new or old friends. If I help the Iowa economy in the process that’s great, but it’s not my priority. Since I have to eat somewhere during the week, it has to help a little. Even the food I buy through my charter comes from local merchants. I also help other riders along the way, so it’s not entirely about me.
Most of my patronage is done at the overnight towns. I get there early, get cleaned then see what the town has to offer. I look for pulled pork, watermelon, and sweetcorn. Later, I usually enjoy a church dinner. Doesn’t that contribute to towns, their efforts, and the continuation of Ragbrai?
The issue I have with blocking the road is that it tells me that that’s the only way they can get riders to go into their town. It tells me they don’t have anything special in their town. I resent being made to go there, so there is no way I would buy anything there. It’s a waste of my time.
All of this sounds like I am just complaining, but my point is to let future pass through towns understand my motives. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I think towns will have more sales if riders have the choice.


klkoopman, August 16, 2021 at 4:45 pm

Well, “the route” is the the route, whether it goes up hills or into towns or into industrial areas or pothole filled roads outside of Ackley or (inexplicably) into Geode State Park. At least you know where the flow of traffic is supposed to go. What I HAVE seen a couple of times is riders getting huffy at having to take a right into a town, and insist on travelling straight. The trouble is, they are usually in the right lane and cause numerous near-misses as hundreds of riders are going through their own right hand turn taking a wider arc. Uhm, duh, in that case swallow your pride, realize you’re trapped in the mob, take a right, come to a stop on the left, then double back to continue on the main road.

If the thought of turning into a town upsets you to no end then anticipate it, move to the far, far left side of the road and continue straight. If you have to get off your bike a walk 20′ in the ditch, so be it. I don’t know what this poster wants, an apology, a change to the RAGBRAI rules manual or a public pronouncement from Mr. Drake himself?


tdubya500, August 16, 2021 at 5:33 pm

After these towns spend months and thousands of volunteer hours preparing for this one day I feel like it’s the least we can do to ride through their town rather than skip them and potentially save 10 minutes of road time.

The goat yoga town this year(Lyton?) said they had 250 people in their town and 300 volunteers for RAGBRAI but you do you.


T. Gap Woo, August 16, 2021 at 9:30 pm

Whoa! Simmer down! Let’s lower the temperature on this thread. Things seem to be getting heated and, goodness knows, it’s been hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hades for the last few weeks, so we don’t need any more heat.

I think that we are missing the point of “forced routes” into pass-through towns, although klkoopman came close. From a public safety (and common sense) point of view, the reason riders are “forced” is simple: controlling traffic flow. Can you imagine the chaos that would result if towns had multiple points of ingress and egress? Bikes coming and going in all different directions is a recipe for disaster.

From a personal point of view, I enjoy walking in the pass-through towns. Even if they don’t advertise that they have anything special, I still pull my camera out of the pannier on the off-chance I’ll find something worthy of a picture —architecture, human interest, still lifes, etc. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you never know what you’ll find when you least expect it!

Spending some time, if not money, also is a great opportunity to talk with the locals. I remember in 2014 talking with a senior citizen about old cars after he heard the ooga horn on my bike. What a pleasant time!

Don’t grouse about being “forced” to go into a pass-through town. View it as an opportunity to experience something that you might have otherwise missed.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox now.

See you along the I-O-Way next year.


Jason Kuehnhold, August 17, 2021 at 2:32 pm

FYI I-80 runs all the way across Iowa with about all the criteria you seek. Give it a whirl next time. Please!!


LawnchairMan, August 17, 2021 at 3:53 pm

My apologies for being such a poor writer. I was taught to tell what I’m going to say, say it, then say what I said. My last post took me a whole lot of words to even understand what I wanted to say.

The main purpose of my thread is to warn future pass-through towns against channeling us into their towns. I don’t like being herded like cattle. I think that offending your target audience is not good for business.

klkoopman, I agree that going into Geode State Park did not make sense, but yes, it was on the route.
I looked up my path on my Garmin routes, so I think the town in question was Menlo. That is such a small town that it doesn’t show any turn on the Ragbrai routes. When I got there I was with only a few others, but it looked like we were being detoured around an accident. The semi-trailer was nearly perpendicular to the road. By the time I realized it was a blockade I was in a town with only one paved street. One way in and one way out. Yes, if I see this again I will go into the ditch to avoid it.
For the town, though, I think they would have done better to line up a bunch of tents on the side of the road to sell what they had.

Mr. Woo, I didn’t realize anyone getting heated. I thought we were all just calmly stating our opinions. As for “Can you imagine the chaos that would result if towns had multiple points of ingress and egress?” they call those host towns.


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