RAGBRAI LI Registration is Now Open!

New girl from MD joining her cousin's group for a day or 2–help me?

Hello everyone,
I’m new to RAGBRAI–as if you couldn’t tell. My cousin did this last year, and as a result, more cousins are doing it this year and I couldn’t be left out. I’m going to do at least one day, maybe 2, I can’t do the entire week due to work and really, I’m not going to be able to ride that much in one week this soon into my bicycling life.

So, if I am going to be a part of his group to ride, how do I register? Is it with him? I will talk to him at some point before Sunday, but he’s a busy person so I was curious now and wanted to know where to begin.
How much is the cost for one day–or do you pay just one fee?
Sorry if this is redundant or silly. I just want to be part of this great RAGBRAI group–my dad died this summer and I want to ride this for him since he would be exceptionally proud of me.

38 Replies

KenH, November 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm

At some point we stop helping Sara who seems to have all the information she needs for now, and we start talking for the benefit of how ever many others may tune in, now or in the future, glean some information, and leave without saying a word. Speaking as someone who came with a team of 3 plus a driver, all newbies, to our first RAGBRAI with little advice from veterans beyond what you can pick up here and had a simply grand and completely successful time of it, I can say confidently that you do not need to use a charter even as a newbie. And I have talked to others who have done the same, with the same result. You don’t NEED a charter. And I have looked carefully at charters and know that there are SIGNIFICANT cost differences among them. Not saying those costs are not justified, in my opinion they are justified by the differences in service levels. But, just as with many things in life if you go with a charter you can expect to pay less if you invest more sweat equity and more if you choose to be served in the manner which you all truly deserve! Charter or not, its up to you and your budget. Just don’t feel that this is something you can’t possibly do on your own. You can. Even if you’ve never done it before. I am sure Sara’s RAGBRAI pioneer cousins can take care of the rest of the clan just fine.


Michrider !!!, November 12, 2015 at 6:13 pm

So Ken, do you think Sara needs a charter? Tell us what you really think!!!!!


Sara Eastman, November 12, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Thank you all for your input, I haven’t had a chance to sit and actually read it–after I get off work tomorrow I will be reading this and coordinating with my family. My cousin has a group name and has plans and everything–I need to find out how I fit into them. I’m also not sure if I’m flying out to Iowa or driving out, depends if I buy a new car between now and then and some other things. There’s a million details tow work out. But I really appreciate all the feedback, let me read it in detail tomorrow when I’m done working for the week. Right now I’m about to go to bed.
Its funny, a lot of people I mention this ride to and say I am aiming to train and do this at least for a day, they look at me and say “Oh, you’re serious? You’re really doing it! Cool!” Gee thanks for the confidence lol. I’ll show them.
Any who, goodnight and thanks for the help….I’m sure I’ll have more questions!!


Iceman, November 13, 2015 at 9:13 am

Sara, unless your “group” has its own van or bus during the week or in the end town, you are going to be best served by using an outfitter.

While Ken is right – some people go to their first RAGBRAI without using an outfitter and have a splendid time – it can be a little overwhelming the first time you do it, with or without an outfitter, and if you throw in the fact that you are only doing two or three days, you will multiply the logistical complexity by at least a factor of two or more.

Every year on this Forum we see inquiries about “how can I get from X overnight town back to my car?” and so on. It’s not that easy – even for an experienced RAGBRAI rider – if they deviate from the full 7 day route.

Here’s my advice. Go ahead and sign up with your “group” and (assuming they will not have a car every day on the ride or will not have a car waiting at the end town) when the route comes out in January, have your group call a few of the outfitters and tell them what you intend to do. PBV is good. And I’d call Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers (I’ve use him on week long rides other than RAGBRAI and he’s very good) and maybe one or two others like Brancel.

If you don’t use an outfitter, my guess is that you might be best served by picking the last two or three days to ride (i.e., Thursday, Friday and Saturday). For example, if you want to ride two days, you could drive to the Thursday overnight town and leave your car in the town there. Then you would ride Friday and Saturday and then having your “group” drive you back on Sat. to get your car – assuming one of them has left a car in the end town. Or, if someone in your “group” has a car every night during the ride, park at the end town and have them come pick you up Thursday afternoon and return for the Friday & Sat. rides.

But you see, all this is dependent on someone in your “group” having a car all during the week or in the end city. If they don’t, it’s going to be much, much more difficult for you to plan this out without an outfitter.


KenH, November 13, 2015 at 12:07 pm

So Ken, do you think Sara needs a charter? Tell us what you really think!!!!!

I actually don’t know for sure! Just trying to make sure the other viewpoint gets the proper consideration. Her cousins have done the ride once so they know the basics. They can do the logistics if they want to, but knowing what they know they may decide they don’t want to do that for however many more cousins are going to join them this coming year. It can be a lot of work and a big distraction from what they enjoy most about the ride. Or not. There is no right answer only a range of options that one should consider. My team has jumped through some hoops to work out all the details in year’s past. I know how that is and I know that charters can deal with that for you. Even if you ride on your own you may want to use some charter services. If I were going to ride the whole week and rely on the Register truck to haul my gear I would drive to the end town, park my car there, and be one of the first in line for some charter or team’s bus from there to the start town!

Even a small team can be its own charter service if things don’t get too complex. This year one of my teammates did the first five days and the other the last two. We all live within a stone’s throw of each other so the one who was joining mid week drove the other’s car to Cedar Rapids (where we over nighted with some friends in lieu of the official campground) and he drove it back home! Easy peasy!! In that case….!!! Last year I offered a ride to the start town to some stranger who posted on this forum and needed one. He never responded but I was not the only one who offered to help so you can in fact rely on the kindness of strangers at this ride if they happen to be going your way. The first year we did RAGBRAI we gave a ride to a member of another team who lives next door to one of us. And then two years after that joined their team for a summer and helped with the logistics of the combined team. Didn’t work that way last year, might next year however. There are many creative ways to solve RAGBRAI’s logistic puzzles and even if you don’t join them officially for the week or a few days the larger teams and charters will offer some transportation services that you can use.


Iceman, November 13, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Well, Ken, your latest response, while correct, just points out the uncertainty of any plans that don’t include your own team/relatives or an outfitter (i.e., they are accountable to you). For a first timer, RAGBRAI is confusing enough. Throw in all the variables in your last several posts and I’m sure Sara’s head will be spinning. No, she either needs to rely on a relative in her “group” or an outfitter.

I remember my first RAGBRAI and wondering that first morning just what in the hell I had gotten myself into. That uncertainty went away quickly but our outfitter made the transition easy and certain.


Ben….. M., November 14, 2015 at 11:06 am

I am from MD too. Send me a private message and we can share some of my ideas and experience.



“Bicycle Bill”, November 14, 2015 at 8:22 pm

If I were going to ride the whole week and rely on the Register truck to haul my gear I would drive to the end town, park my car there, and be one of the first in line for some charter or team’s bus from there to the start town!

And that’s exactly how I did RAGBRAI IX, X, XI, and XII….

Starting with RAGBRAI XIII I joined the Rainbow Cyclists of Waterloo/Cedar Falls and rode with them, making use of their shuttles to the start/back to W’loo from the end point and their club-provided day-by-day baggage shuttle.  Yes, you still had to look for your own bags and set up your own tent, but looking through two Ryder straight trucks was a whole lot easier than searching the windrows of baggage dropped out of three 50-foot semi trailers!

Was it as easy as riding into an already prepared camp, parking the bike by the mechanic’s vehicle so he could get those shifters adjusted for you, and finding your assigned tent already erected, your gear already inside, and the bedding rolled out just so with a mint on the pillow?  Of course not.  But was it fun, and did I have a good time?  Hell, yes!!

So there are still ways to do RAGBRAI without giving an arm, a leg, and a pint of blood or pledging your first-born male child to some charter service who promises to provide and do everything for you including riding alongside you holding an umbrella over your head in case of rain.  And that’s what I think Sara was asking about.



Michrider !!!, November 15, 2015 at 7:11 am

Beebs, any chance you’ll be coming back to RAGBRAI in the next year or so?


Ben….. M., November 15, 2015 at 9:02 am

With all due respect to the PBV advocates, No PBV is not “cheap” but the incremental cost of PBV over not using an outfitter or another outfitter is minimal.

Actually, PVB is very expensive and doesn’t give any more services than other charters. Also, they try to service too many and they don’t have adequate capacity. Waiting in line for 3 hrs for shower is not a good service.


Stephen Paine, November 15, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Mr. Expensive – well of course you must be right. Why else would PBV sell out every year for the past 25 or so years?


Iceman, November 15, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Hey Excited – I’ve not waited for more than 15 minutes for a PBV shower in the past couple of years since they now have THEIR OWN SHOWER TRUCKS. Get your facts straight before you shoot your foot again.


Michrider !!!, November 15, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Excited Rider, have you ever traveled with PBV? Seems like you tried to talk down PBV last year!


“Bicycle Bill”, November 16, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Michrider said:
Beebs, any chance you’ll be coming back to RAGBRAI in the next year or so?

Michrider, I never left.

I am there with you in spirit every day, in the sun that warms you in the morning as it burns away the newly-fallen dew, in the gentle winds that assist you on your way, in the softly-falling rain that cools your flushed and fevered brow, and in the moon and stars that look down on you at night as you rest your weary bodies.  I am the person in front of you that you have been futilely chasing all day; I am the person alongside of you sharing a water bottle and some good conversation; I am the person on your wheel who is grateful for the chance to tuck in behind for a while.  I am the little girl along the road offering to slap hands as you ride by; I am the young man in the pickup truck handing out $2.00 bottles of ice-cold Gatorade; I am the Amish wife who has spread out a bounteous smörgåsbord of fruits and home-baked goodies (OK, so ‘smörgåsbord’ isn’t Amish but you know where I’m going here); I am her husband who has brought a couple dozen hay bales out to the front yard to give you something to sit on while enjoying some shade and the food; and I am the retired couple sitting in their rockers on their front porch, waving until their arms get tired.  I am the townspeople who welcome you into their communities; I am the volunteers who see that you find your way around; I am the firefighters, the EMTs, and the police who put in long hours to make sure that everything and everyone stays safe.

I don’t need to be physically in Iowa on a bicycle in July, for wherever two or more of you are gathered in the name of RAGBRAI, I am already there.

pssst —
  That was beautiful, wasn’t it?  Damn, can I turn a phrase when I want to!
Seriously, there’s always a possibility of me turning up, and maybe even on a bicycle for a while…. and now that my mother has finally joined my father on their interrupted journey to together forever, I now have a few less obligations on my hands and might be able to start planning pleasurable things again.


Michrider !!!, November 16, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Beebs, I’m sorry to hear of your Mother’s passing! I know how that is. I was on RAGBRAI in 2012, when my sister called to tell me of my Mother’s passing. It’s never esay!


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