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Gluten Free Eating on the ride

I have just been put on a gluten free diet. Wonder how difficult it will be to follow that during the ride given the amount of high carb foods offered. Can’t survive on pork chops alone.

Anyone found good ways of dealing with this on past RAGBRAI’s??

42 Replies

morleyruth, March 23, 2016 at 7:43 pm

If you go to the Epic website, you can find where the bars are sold. I just bought a box of my favorite bar today at the Vitamin Shoppe. I think the freeze dried veggies by North Bay can only be bought on their website. I couldn’t find them at REI.

I think it’s the pies, pizzas and pancakes that I’ll hate passing by. But I’m getting better about accepting the situation and concentrating more on people and experiences than on specific foods. Many folks have it so much worse, and we are healthy enough to ride RAGBRAI!


fuelflorida, March 23, 2016 at 8:03 pm

Jrobison – It may not be as enjoyable, but it won’t be as difficult as you think.

I rode the full week last year, and I have severe Celiac Disease. There was a specific vendor who carried GLUTEN-FREE bread for PB&J’s. I usually stocked up on 2 of those a day.

There was also a vendor who carried GF rhubarb pie!

Breakfast is easy- you can find eggs, meat, and fruit anywhere.

Bring LOTS of your own GF snack bards like Kind or Luna bars.

Hope this helps!


Jason Stoller, March 23, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Morleyruth, at the same time, please give us credit for understanding that people have medical conditions and allergies and just because the answers posted were not necessarily written in a way you and other might like to have seen them presented does not mean they people without your particular medical condition or allergy do not understand it. So please do not talk down to us either. There are certainly other medical conditions that people deal with that attend Ragbrai as well. So don’t assume what another person’s medical condition or situation might be.

The informative information posted came from the Celiac Disease Support Organization so its unfortunate that you see them as rather simplistic and insulting. The links are directly from their website.

As far as any other allergies are concerned that is different topic all together because the focus of the original post was on Celiac Disease unless you want to expand it to include Lupus, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and a host of other medical complications that affect people who might choose to attend and participate in Ragbrai.

No one suggested that just a bag of nuts or a salad would be all that would be needed to maintain a person after riding 70 miles.

Where was it suggested that a bag of nuts would be all a person would need to maintain them for a day? Please cut and paste where that was said. I think you are taking things to the extreme, just so you can make a point.

However, unless you wish to deny it, along the routes there are places to buy snacks, fruits, salads, and other healthy things that will help maintain that persons energy during the day. Certainly in the last few years in the pass through and overnight towns there were Grocery stores that were available to those of us that wished to shop.

It’s not realistic for anyone to suggest that someone who has Celiacs Disease to think the normal foods that they would eat or their eating habits should change just because they attend Ragbrai or any other type of Event for that matter.

Lets be Realistic people do take vacations and they are faced with with similar situations.

I think its great if you have a Charter Service that is willing to work and transport your food for you if that is what you feel is the best solution for your situation. The Charter Services seem to be staffed by exceptionally good people.

If nothing else, this thread whether you agree with the responses or not has brought more attention to this subject.



Mary, March 23, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Ahhhh…pancakes–how could I forget pancakes!! I’ve gotten used to not eating a lot of the foods I used to eat. Also, I can make a lot of things at home, buy from stores that carry a lot of packaged gluten free food, but on the road, on a bike, it is different. Bringing some of your own packaged foods helps a lot. After doing without pizza for several years I did discover last year that Pizza Ranch makes a gluten free pizza. Looks like there is one in Creston and Ottumwa. The gal that sells the gluten free pies, cookies and protein bars is between towns usually and said she would be back this year, so hopefully she is! Fuelflorida, Who was the vendor that sold gluten free PB&J sandwiches? I used to buy from PB&Jam, but haven’t seen them on the route for a couple years. Sometimes I will ask the steak sandwich vendors to just give me the steak without the bun, and they do, sometimes telling me how they have a relative with Celiac and they completely understand. Walking tacos are pretty good too–just be sure they have gluten free chips before you order, some do, some don’t.


Brian Wallenburg, March 23, 2016 at 9:23 pm

Seriously? just give it up!

Good luck to all those who need a certain diet or any other special needs. I am certain the great people of IOWA can provide an enjoyable experience for all.

Peace out, I can’t take the never ending condescending insults in this thread.

It is dead to me!

Pin Pulled!


Jason Stoller, March 23, 2016 at 9:31 pm

Great Comments Mary!



mjh9791, March 26, 2016 at 6:07 pm

I just wanted to thank the person for the original post. This is my first RAGBRAI and I am nervous about food options since I have a gluten-sensitivity. I am looking forward to the week and really don’t want to get sick, which would cause me to sag.

Therefore, I, too, am curious if there are many vendors along the way with GF options and appreciate any insights from people actually with celiac or a gluten-sensitivity. I plan to pack food to potentially cover breakfast, lunch and snacks, but am concerned about options for dinner. If anyone is familiar with the towns through which we are traveling and has any dining suggestions, I’d sincerely appreciate the insights. Also, if you’ve completed RAGBRAI in the past and had any favorite snacks to bring, I’d love to hear about it.

Finally, I don’t know that I could survive a week of riding and just eating salads, as was suggested by one person who doesn’t seem to have a gluten issue. Most salads at fast food restaurants consist of white lettuce and maybe a vegetable or two, not exactly substantive. Additionally, as was previously posted most salad dressing do contain gluten, so as an added bonus I’d probably get to eat the salad without anything on it. I know what to stay away from but am hopeful that someone may have dining suggestions for the overnight towns.

Thanks in advance for the replies.


EricaJones, March 26, 2016 at 8:04 pm

I am diagnosed with celiac disease and have ridden RAGBRAI twice since diagnosis, once prior. Planning to ride this year.
I get sick for about a week from cross contamination. Since I don’t want to get sick and ride across Iowa in the same week, I skip relying on vendor food. I ride with a team and can keep my own cooler in our sag wagon. I pack it with cooked meats like brats (Johnsonville Original), chicken, burgers, Hormel ham and hard boiled eggs. I also throw in fruits, raw veggies, and a cabbage salad I prepare at home. These goodies serve as my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. One year I packed raw sweet potatoes thinking I could microwave them somewhere but didn’t end up using them. I also bring a bag of snacks: Larabars, beef jerky (Epic or Kirkland Steak Strips from Costco), dried fruit and nuts (Blue Diamond almonds), and fruit pouches like applesauce or one called Happy Squeeze Fruit & Veggie Twist (from Costco or can buy a box on Amazon). Larabar flavors I love = coconut cream pie and lemon. I also enjoy the cononut chocolate chip, but those melt in the Iowa heat. To start the day, I drink a GF protein powder with almond milk (can buy small travel size ones that don’t have to be refrigerated). I use an insulated little lunch bag on my bike to pack meats, fruits, veggies and snacks for the ride.
There is a frozen fruit bar vendor (location changes daily) that I like for a treat. Sometimes there are free bananas at the Iowa Conservation tent.

Fellow riders with celiac or gluten sensativity, I wish you a safe and healthy GF RAGBRAI!


T. Gap Woo, March 28, 2016 at 1:14 pm

: Many folks have it so much worse, and we are healthy enough to ride RAGBRAI!


Truer words were never spoken! When I was a child, my daddy read me a fable about gratitude. The moral was, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” Morleyruth, you are so correct; we are healthy enough to ride RAGBRAI. We should be grateful.

See you along the I-O-Way in July.


hawkeyemat, April 1, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Let me break it down for you from a culinary pain-in-the-ass. Trust me you do not want to have me over for dinner. But it is my body and I will do with it whatever I damn please. I do not eat/drink gluten, have a dairy allergy, do not eat pork, red meat, no soda and the list keeps going. I do not worry about it at all however. One positive is you will typically not find me standing in line. I know how to seek things out and enjoy the scavenger part of it, do not stress! Hy-Vee will become your best friend, grab smoothies along the way, carry a can of beans, be observant of all food options along the way. I can promise you the talk will not be “man that gluten free (fill in the black) was amazing”, and I will ride another 20 before it is. You will find your way just create the path. My point is do not stress. Sure this is not going to be like eating at home and you will be left out of most of the food conversations. While all your friends are hanging at Pastafaria you will be searching, but you will find food and your friends again. Lastly this is Iowa, ragbrai, you will get help along the way!

@beervendors- Hopefully cider is not your avenue of last resort. We are looking for a beer replacement not a Zima alternative. Many beers exist that are made from non-traditional grains and nuts that are very tasty. Although they are more expensive, those in that realm are used to it.


Mary, April 4, 2016 at 7:34 pm

I just remembered two more places I sometimes stop to eat. There are Maid Rite stands in some of the towns–perhaps the meeting towns? You can get a loose meat burger with the fixings in a cup, no bun. And sometimes you can find some authentic taco stands in pass through towns, serving corn tortilla shells tacos, but be sure to check about the corn shell or skip it altogether and get it in a bowl too. My favorite last year was a grilled steak/onions/fresh cilantro/squeeze of lime/lettuce/cheese taco–best stop all week.


Stephen Paine, April 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

My goodness. Lots of angry chatter (both ways) over gluten free on RAGBRAI. I see all this antipathy as yet another aspect of some folks being politically correct/sensitive and others who are tired of having to be pc. RAGBRAI is just supposed to be fun, right?

I would think that it would be fairly obvious that not many (any?) roadside RAGBRAI vendors are going to be gluten free – just like most fast food vendors in your home town are not. If it becomes financially worthwhile to do so, it will happen. May not be fair but it’s all about the money.

Ok, everyone take a deep breath.


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