General Question

Please be kind, this is my first RAGBRAI and the website has so much information I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m trying to get a general feel for what the food options are (how much cash to bring), does everyone have to purchase a ride from the finish back to the start or vice-versa, am I guaranteed shower/laundry availability during the week, and phone charging? I can set up my tent in less than two minutes, I love camping and I’m not a glamper, but my group is trying to convince me to use a Charter and frankly that money isn’t a drop in the hat for me. Thanks in advance and I am so excited to meet new people and have fun on this adventure!!!!!

7 Replies

David Jaehn, May 10, 2018 at 9:14 am

Heres my personal feelings on these topics – some are opinion, some fact:
Food – $30-$40/day should cover you handsomly – Probably could do it under $20 on a budget but that depends alot on your intake. If you’re a drinker you probably want to double that ;) Be prepared for a lack of green things though, tends to be more meat & fried products.

Transport – Ragbrai does not provide transport for you and your bike to/from the endpoints. If you sign up with a charter, they will typically handle that side for you (as that is one of their main purposes.) Ragbrai DOES move your bag and tent from city to city each day, they just don’t handle getting you from end to end before or after the ride. Here’s some charters out there, however general internet searches will reveal others

Shower – Yes. The sites have shower trucks (or sometimes high school gym showers) or other facilities for a price – last time I did it it was $5 for a shower. You will need to wait in line.

Laundry – No*. Local laundromats are around (and oversubscribed). Most simply wash their clothes in the shower and hope it will dry out.

Charging – I’m not sure about this one currently but theres usully some charge stations. However your stuff is tehre with everyone elses. Peronally, I come with a big rechargeable “brick” that can charge my phone 5-10 times so theres always options. If you go that route, look on Amazon or whatnot for portable usb chargers. I would only consider 20000 mA or more.

Cell Phone – This will be largely useless on the ride though, you can usually get texts (no images) thru, but thats about it. When 15000 riders come thru a 2000 person town, wireless data networks are WAY too flooded. Expect no web browsing. Limited or no voice.

Big ZipLock – Assume everything not in plastic will get wet, and its hard to dry wet stuff. I personally pack as many “ride outfits” as I can each in its own ziplock. Every sunny day I wash anything I can and dry it, then ziplock again.

Garbage Bags – If your tent bag isnt waterproof, put your tent in a garbage bag before putting it in its native bag (same for sleeping bag). When they transfer your stuff, they are going to dump it all outside. If it pours out you dont want a wet tent/sleeping bag

Tent – If you have the space for it, its nice to have your bike in your tent with you. It will be soaked from dew in the morning if outside – not the end of the world, but some people care.

See you out there! I’ll be the guy on the bike made of 2x4s dressed like a lumberjack ;)


Marie Marefat, May 10, 2018 at 9:28 am

Thank you so much for the information and advice!!! It’s truly appreciated. I’ll say hi if I see ya!


jwsknk, May 10, 2018 at 10:55 am

If you do a church supper take your charger along and plug in there, you will probably be there a hour anyway. is at the west end of Main Street downtown Ames, pretty close to Brookside when some of the camping is. you will see lots of bananas, sometimes free, sometimes overpriced. Lots of pies, and if they are Amish or Mennonite stop.
Shower trucks usually rent towels too for an extra dollar, almost always hot, most have private stalls (pork Belly shower trucks I think have around 20 in each) schools not always hot, tend to run out at peak hours. Laundry, I take enough for 4 days and rinse every night the first half of the week. But this year, I only have to pack for half the week, Staying in Ames.
Charters vary a lot, some will just provide transportation out and back and you meet them wherever they are based out of. some will carry your bags too for the week and have a campsite sometimes in the main area or a charter area the town provides. some will even put up and take down a tent for you and deliver your bags to the tent.


KenH, May 10, 2018 at 10:58 am

Charters do come at several price points so check them all out before you decide they are too expensive. I used the Argo-Riverbend charter one year and it was great. It was also cheaper than the popular, big name charters. I think the big charters do a great job too and they are an excellent value when you consider all that they do for you. The cheaper charters are fine however, they do less, and you pay less so they are also an excellent value.

Many charters will take you, your bike, and your stuff on their buses from the end town to the start town whether you spend the week with them or not. You will have to arrange with the end town for parking for your car and then the charter bus will get you to the start town. If you use the Register trucks to carry your gear all week it will end up being the cheapest way to do the ride except for having family and friends provide your transportation to/from the start and end towns and for many of us that is not an option. Look for the transportation only options on the charter pages. Using Riverbend as an example the full package (camp with them plus bus ride to start town) is $320 while the bus only option to the start town is $160. I could not figure out how to find the price of the long term parking in Davenport. Either its not up yet or I’m just too old. It’s probably $50-100.

All told you could spend $60 a day without being too extravagant. If you budget for that you will likely have money left over and you will also have some money on hand to replace anything that breaks or goes missing.


mootsman, May 10, 2018 at 2:06 pm

One way to go cheaper then a charter but with transport and some basic services is with a RAGBRAI Team. An Iowa based team would be good as many allow for week long parking plus transport to the start town and from the end town. Camping is usually easier with far fewer bags to search through to find your stuff. And you get a group of people to hang with that are very welcoming typically.

Watch this forum in the coming weeks for teams looking for members. Team Sop N Wet was looking for additions earlier this year on this forum (link below). But keep your eyes on this forum for more teams looking for additions.

Plus you could still meet up with your friends. I take it they are using a charter. I used a charter and still met up with my old team last year.


Denton Kernodle, May 10, 2018 at 4:42 pm

Marie, I suggest that you go with the Register campground group and let them transport your stuff, that’s the cheapest way. Then post on this form that you need a lift back to your car, wherever that may be and someone, or some group, will offer to help out for a price. That’s what I did. I found a ride back to Ames, where I am leaving my truck, for $50. I did the same thing last year and it worked out great.


Linda Wiard-Bauer, May 15, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Last year, I was on a tight budget, too. And I was solo!
1. TRANSPORT & CAMPING: I did the free Register bag transport. Set up my own tent. No charter.
2. FOOD: The best thing I found was the church dinners – inexpensive and filling. I had “camping breakfasts” cereal, dry milk, dry fruit, mixed with water every morning to get me started. (You can stop later for coffee.) For lunch I had some food I brought, sometimes bought fixings at a grocery, and sometimes went with a vendor – some of them are great! So I saved a great deal on food and transportation.
3. KEEPING COOL: One of the MUSTS: I bought bags of ICE, so I would have ice-water in my water bottle to keep me cool, and ice in my soft-sided mini cooler to keep any food cool. Secondly, I easily overheat and burn easily. After a couple days I bought sun sleeves, and the next day sun legs. I HIGHLY recommend them! Get them before you go to save money!
4. SHOWERS: I bought a shower every evening $5-6 including towel. I brought an emergency tech towel, just in case.
5. You are really never alone! If you need something others will help!


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