RAGBRAI XLIX registration is now open!

Gauging interest in a different "charter" type service.

This was my 4th RAGBRAI. I love everything about it, but as I have gotten older I find camping less and less enjoyable, and I don’t sleep well under those conditions. Call me a wimp, but I like a comfortable bed, air conditioning and a hot shower to end the day and the next morning to start the day. I enjoyed a nice hotel room in Iowa City, and it was like heaven. Got me to thinking, almost impossible to arrange hotel rooms in all the overnight towns….

But, what if someone could be waiting for me every day at the overnight town, drive me to a nearby town (within 45 minutes) with hotel availability, then shuttle me back to start my ride first thing the next morning? The full RAGBRAI experience except for the sleeping on the ground part. Obviously cost-prohibitive, but what if someone could pull together a small group and pool resources?

Might look something like this:

Transportation from ending town to start town on Saturday.

6 riders all sharing a van with driver.

Daily van shuttle from the overnight town to a nearby town with hotel availability, usually 30 to 45 minutes away. (Shuttle departs the overnight town at 8PM, but can depart earlier or later if all 6 riders agree).

Room at quality/budget hotel (usually Baymont, Days Inn, Super 8, Hampton Inn, etc.), shared room with one roommate, 2 separate full or queen sized beds.

Daily van shuttle back to overnight town to start your riding day. (Shuttle departs at 6:30 AM, but can depart earlier or later if all 6 riders agree).


* Daily laundry service.
* Evening van shuttle includes unlimited cold bottled water. Cold beer available at van under awning with camp chairs while awaiting other riders.
* Morning van shuttle includes coffee and muffins.
* Self-service bike maintenance, including Park Tool bike, wheel truing stand, and full assortment of tools.
* Errand services available (negotiated for fee).

I figure the cost, including hotel, van rental, and driver cost would be about $875 per person for 6 people. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for and the ability to start each day fresh, clean and well-rested might appeal to a few like-minded folks. And when you calculate the cost of shuttle to the start town, plus charter services, plus a few extras, the overall cost is somewhat comparable.

So, is this an idea that might find some interest for next RAGBRAI?

10 Replies

Dpebel, July 29, 2018 at 10:54 am

Have you tried staying at a host house?


Jboz, July 29, 2018 at 11:28 am

Dpebel, While I think it’s wonderful that people open their homes to strangers and show that famous Iowa hospitality, I’m just not big on staying in someone else’s home. Even when I visit relatives, I opt for the convenience and no-obligation feel of a hotel. It’s probably a me thing, but I’ve had my share of lumpy sofas, musty guest rooms, and cluttered bathrooms.


stammag35, July 29, 2018 at 12:10 pm

I would definitely be interested!


rjjensenia, July 29, 2018 at 12:17 pm

We have done that, and it is OK, but it was a lot of driving


Derek Eilderts, July 29, 2018 at 7:42 pm

I think the vast majority enjoy camping and are OK with that option and the affordability and versatility it brings. But I’m not one of them. Count me in on something like this!


Tom Young, July 29, 2018 at 8:40 pm


I was working the ER at the Carroll hospital on Monday, when Ragbrai went through Manning and Templeton Coon Rapids on the way to Jefferson. I stayed at a Carroll hotel Sunday night and there were groups of buses and campers at the hotel with riders. They planned on staying in Carroll and driving to Denison on Monday AM, and Planned on returning to Carroll after riding into Jefferson. All this to say, I think this is already happening. In 2016, I remember people who stayed in Red Oak the first two nights of Ragbrai and then Osceola. I really do like Joe’s Bunk house, but only had limited experience with it. Hope you had a great Ragbrai! I have non riders remorse!


Geoff Butland, July 30, 2018 at 11:50 am

This idea will never catch on.

You expect people to give up the total lack of privacy, close proximity to loud snorers, long lines for non-flushing toilets, and the cheerful WOOT WOOT WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooot of the Union Pacific at 3 am?

Go sell crazy somewhere else. We’re all full up here :)


Sandaltan ., July 30, 2018 at 12:36 pm

This will take a great deal of effort but I am sure that there is a market for this service. Some riders have been doing this for years, decades even, but not, to my knowledge, on a commercial basis. Back when the route was announced in the Sunday DMR newspaper my boss at the time spent that Sunday morning with an Iowa map on the phone making hotel reservations for himself and three ride buddies. Best of luck.



Tyler Blake, August 1, 2018 at 10:53 am

Why not just run a charter with a retrofitted RV or team bus with AC and shower? Seems to solve your issues.


hnschipper, August 1, 2018 at 4:58 pm

While I would sleep much better in a hotel room than I would in my tent, I would not be willing to spend that kind of money for this service. Too cost prohibitive for my husband and myself. We usually have our own support driver, so if we really wanted to stay in hotels, we would just drive ourselves there.


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