Memorable RAGBRAI Sights, Sounds & Smells

Happy Springtime, fellow RAGBRAI’ers! It seems like posters on some of the other threads have been getting a little bit testy lately, probably due to a combination of cabin fever and spring fever. To help lighten the mood, I pose this question: What’s your most memorable (positive, negative or both) RAGBRAI sight, sound and/or smell?

My favorite sight occurred in 2013, at the end of my first RAGBRAI. I stopped at the top of the hill by the “Welcome to Fort Madison” sign and saw the Mississippi River stretched out below. Tears of joy over my accomplishment of biking over 400 miles streamed past my ears as I flew down the hill into town and zigzagged my way to the river.

My favorite sound occurred in 2014. The music playing in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake sure brought back memories of “The Day the Music Died.”

My favorite smell happens every year, it seems. Does anything smell better than grills full of sizzling meat at Mr. Pork Chop?

I could go on and on, but let’s hear from the rest of you.

See you along the I-O-Way in a few short months.

26 Replies

David Daniels, March 23, 2016 at 9:49 am

Memorable RAGBRAI Sight – On my first RAGBRAI, new to the whole thing. I came up on the back side of a bus barn and on the door in the side of the building was a Hazardous Materials Sign listing 4 or 5 items and another sign under it saying “Not all Hazardous Materials within Listed above”. Over both of these signs it had a hand lettered sign “Men’s Showers – Open Slowly”.


Jason Stoller, March 23, 2016 at 9:53 am

Mr. Porkchop is certainly a favorite smell! A favorite sight is seeing the Sun come up in the Morning and knowing you will have a light breeze without rain that day. A favorite sound is a special sound of band like Styx and others that put on great shows for us in the overnight towns.

A really very special sight is all the wonderful people of Iowa who host us, cheer us on, wave to us, and give us water as we pass by them, and enter their towns!



jwsknk, March 23, 2016 at 9:58 am

Fitness Lynn and Loin Cloth Man, one might be your favorite sight and the other your least. Some of the local talent in the towns, Singing Nuns, FreeStyle (some of the band used to ride the ride with us)and I’ll add Abby Normal since I knew the bass player in high school when he played tenor sax. The meat on the grill vs. the confinement operations , “smells like money” says both operators.


Gypsy Rose, March 23, 2016 at 10:16 am

I look forward to the sight of fellow members of Team Roadshow. For me, the annual reunion in Iowa is the only regular occasion when our paths cross.
Team Roadshow


KenH, March 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

I love the sight of the smoke rising from Mr Porkchop’s grills and the sound of the Beekman’s farm engines any year. I loved the early morning ride through the mist in Des Moines in 2013. I loved the sound and the energy of the Runnels pep band later that day. I loved chatting with the Spam-A-Lot crew last year. I loved the smell of the Dutch bakeries in Pella in 2013 and the sound of the jazz band in the park across the street. I love the final downhill run to the Mississippi any year. I loved jumping into RAGBRAI mid week and unprepared for what I was about to experience in 2012. I loved helping a friend complete his first century in 2014. I could go on and on. Mostly RAGBRAI has taught me to love Iowa. The wife and I are seriously considering retiring there….


Gypsy Rose, March 23, 2016 at 10:50 am

Here are a few of the regular sights I look forward to:

Breakfast at Chris Cakes
chris cakes

Old timer
old car

Dad’s Waffles
dads waffles

Pork Chops!
pork chops

Ice Cream!

Stopping to say thank you to “Father RAGBRAI” on the century loop:
father ragbrai

A good pint of beer:
back pocket

Debauchery Pond (don’t ask!)

My fellow Team Roadshow members performing along the way
Team Roadshow


Juan Medium Moose, March 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I rode my first RAGBRAI on a hybrid mountain bike. It was comfortable, but heavy. Riding it all day for several days really wore me out. I probably could have been in better shape, too. I remember crossing over highway 35 half way across Iowa. The day was hot and only half over, and I thought “I could go home! I could just ride down the entrance ramp and take the highway home!”.

…but the good memory was the next year, when I crossed highway 35 and thought “I feel great! I don’t want to go home yet!”.

I'll keep heading eastward, thanks.


Iceman, March 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

All the above posts just point out the fact that RAGBRAI is more an event than a ride to me. I always look forward to the “old standby’s” like Mr. Pork Chop and Beekmans. I miss the bygone standbys like Mama Raphaels and Pastafari. But overall, RAGBRAI is and always will be an event like no other. I do other multi-day rides because I enjoy seeing other parts of the country and they are rides, not events. And I love riding. But nothing beats RAGBRAI. I’ve made friends from all over the country on RAGBRAI and we all love it.


Juan Medium Moose, March 23, 2016 at 3:09 pm

My second try at posting a photo. If it doesn’t show up… sorry for the noise.

I'll keep heading eastward, thanks.


SFC JKL 2, March 23, 2016 at 9:10 pm

The first sight is the ride across Iowa to the start. Seeing all the teams and riders as we get closer to the start town. The second sight is seeing the team as we all come back together from across the country. For the ride it’s always a “free beer” sign. You always have to like a good water tower because that means you’re almost to the next town.
For sounds it used to be the call of Mr Pork Chop. The chuck, chuck, chuck of Beekman’s steam engines. The quality of last year’s bands was outstanding. Huey Lewis and Cheap Trick were awesome.
Smells: meat, meat, and more meat. From there it moves from a kybo that doesn’t smell like death and “Ragbrai clean” at the end of the week.


Michrider !!!, March 24, 2016 at 6:30 am

Posting pictures:
1. Upload pic to Photobucket or some other online site
2. Copy code from “Direct” box
3. Open img box above
4. paste code into the line that says “enter the URL of the image”
5. Hit OK
6. close prompt box & we have a picture!!!



Michrider !!!, March 24, 2016 at 6:31 am



ppayne1959, March 24, 2016 at 9:34 am

I love the feeling of wheeling out of town early in the morning. warming up the legs and looking forward to the day. Everything is a bit more quiet as others are doing the same. The sun coming up, and the birds singing, then slowly everything starts coming to life. First stop, Peace coffee! best way to start the day. Then on to seek out breakfast and amusements for the day. as the group becomes faster and more raucous, its time to seek out the craft beer tent. Twice if possible!. Then cruising into the next ON town feeling very satisfied physically and mentally. Time to clean up and find more beer and a good meal. Best part is we get to do it again tomorrow!


Sandaltan ., March 24, 2016 at 10:26 pm

A sight.



Sandaltan ., March 24, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Fitness Lynn and Papa T. Both favorite sights.



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