Getting in touch with people when cell phones not working

When the cell phone towers are overloaded and you’re trying to meet up with people on the ride who have different schedules or stay in different campgrounds, are there any good workarounds?

I can only think of wi-fi in libraries, etc, but most people aren’t going to check that. I don’t know much about two-way radios or the range, etc. Making plans to meet at a landmark at the end of the day is too restrictive and inconvenient for most people.

20 Replies

Ken Koprowski, February 2, 2020 at 10:12 am

I am going to shoot up a flair if anyone wants to find me-
but i have Verizon ,

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Jose Medina, February 2, 2020 at 5:50 pm

2newknees , this might be funny now that we have told everybody about US Cellular being the best in Iowa. We may now have 30,000 riders switching to US Cellular and now we won’t be able to get thru. Funny !

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Larry Klaaren, February 3, 2020 at 9:14 am

AT@T sucks in Iowa,

I drive from Chicago to Oskaloosa every third weekend as my Dad is in a nursing home there. I have AT&T. It is OK on some major highways. I can not get a signal anywhere else. I haven’t looked if we will be close to Highway 20 or another major route, but if you are on AT&T, that is your only hope. Texts do somehow get through fairly quickly, I was texting with my teammates last year, but I could not make a call once we got south of Indianola. Oskaloosa is west of Indianola on 92 and and north of Bloomfield on 63, if you remember how those towns were situated. I can only get a signal in Oskaloosa to make a call if I go the the Smoky Row Coffee Shop and sit on the upper level. However, I can text with my wife and sisters any time. I don’t know how that works. Now add a extra ten thousand or more people to the mix, besides the increased local activity because of all that is going on in town, and it does get tough to use your phone on RAGBRAI.

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Mike Howe, February 3, 2020 at 10:47 am

Ive always heard Verizon works the best. But there are some towns that it doesnt matter, you just wont get a signal whatsoever. In my experience youll discover pretty quickly once youre in town if youll be able to at least text or not. Putting your phone on airplane mode is a good tip. It saves your battery life while riding.

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montestaples, February 28, 2020 at 3:17 pm

I have always had Verizon for the last 14 years on RAGBRAI. Text messaging is much more likely to work although I have received some messages even the next day back in 2011 I think. It seems to me that phone service on RAGBRAI has gotten better over the years. In recent years RAGBRAI has provided a few portable cell towers in the overnight towns which I think has helped. My wife thinks I am crazy to go on RAGBRAI but she does usually try to call around 9:30 to 10:00 PM and it usually works that time of day. In our camp I am one of the very few still up at that time. If you are trying to stay with someone during the day you should agree on a meeting place that every pass through town should have such as Casey’s, water tower, bike repair (always right on the route), first bar, etc. It is very easy to get split up especially if you don’t naturally ride the same speed. Very few people do hills exactly the same. Never rely completely on cell phones.

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