Not Going with a Charter

I’d like more information for those choosing to not use a Charter Service. Are there showers/port-a-potties for use at overnight camp locations? Are there specific locations one must camp? Are there bike mechanics associated with the ride or only with charter services? I read that most churches and other venues with have food for purchase and I imagine there are grocery stores enroute?

10 Replies

kicks9, March 6, 2019 at 9:48 am

There are shower trucks throughout the towns (overnight not passthrough), some are associated with the charters some are not, usually for a fee you can get a shower anywhere, sometimes it comes with the charter service (not free but included). Port-a-potties or kybos are everywhere, that wont be a problem finding those. I believe there is a shower truck every day with the main campground. Bike mechanics are everywhere as well. I am sure there are some with the main campground. There will be mechanics all throughout the route every day. Even if you have a major breakdown you can usually limp to the next mechanic tent. Food will be everywhere as well. Food tents, grocery stores, churches, schools etc…

You wont have a problem finding anything you need on RAGBRAI. You will have to wait in lines for everything.


tdubya500, March 6, 2019 at 10:28 am

I do the main campgrounds every year.
Showers/potties- yes, the main campground is usually a school or a city park. There will be signs that point you to the main baggage truck. So you get in to town, find the trucks, find your bag, and go set up your tent. If it’s a school, they have the school showers open and its hit and miss for warm water, but theres a couple shower semi trailers that follow the ride. I always use Joe’s wetshack, its $6 has warm water and as close to a private shower as you can get.
Theres usually at least one bike shop mechanic at the main campgrounds and in town theres a bunch of them.
Food is not a problem, it’s just about what your stomach desires. You wont go hungry, all the towns have restaurants and theres tons of vendors that follow the ride and theres always a Casey’s for some good pizza…


KenH, March 6, 2019 at 11:53 am

Several independent bike shops follow the ride and provide mechanical service in some pass through towns and the overnight town. Your fellow riders can help you with a lot of mechanical issues and the Air Force team will try to beat all of them to the honor of helping out! Please, please, please make sure your bike is ready for the ride beforehand but help will be there if something goes wrong during the week. I stopped to check up on two people last year whose mechanical issues were beyond what even the Air Force could fix on the road. One had a stripped pedal that had parted company with the bike. The other had a hopelessly bent derailleur. I could do nothing but advise on how far it was to the next town with a mechanic and the proper procedure for catching the SAG wagon. Both issues should have been attended to before the ride….

Casey’s pizza is far from being the best restaurant pizza I have ever had. Yet it is surprisingly good and is far, far from being the worst restaurant pizza I have ever had!


cappidog, March 7, 2019 at 10:10 am

Previous posts pretty much cover things. I’ve ridden w/o charter for years…it’s easy. Throw your camping gear (a surplus military duffle is perfect, but spray paint or color tape it so you can easily find it when you arrive at the overnight town) into the RAGBRAI truck in the AM, pick it up in the PM, set up your tent, repeat for a week. Your duffle (luggage, whatever) will be weighed the first morning only; be sure to stay in weight guidelines. With 20,000 bikers coming through, churches are prepared and are a great place to eat and visit, both along the way and in overnight towns. Also Hy-Vee supermarkets heve serious salad bars and generally set up so riders can sit down and fill up. The ride organizers do a great job prepping and coaching the towns how to accomodate thousands of riders and in my experience you’ll always be able to find a good or service to get you to the Mississippi happy and geeked to do the next year’s ride.


Chris King, March 8, 2019 at 6:31 am

Good information. How about the shuttle to the start? Any tips?


Isabella Arjona, March 8, 2019 at 6:38 am

I’m arriving Omaha and have been told that it is but a 10mi (ish) ride from airport/airport hotel to Council Bluffs and to make it epic, I would ride my bike over the Robert Kerry Pedestrian Bridge (3k span) which crosses the Missouri River. From there it should be not too difficult to find the ride start. That said, I’ve found PBV ($20) and RonOman ($?) both offer shuttles to ride start.


Isabella Arjona, March 8, 2019 at 6:39 am

Thank you! And thank you for your service. I hope to see you out there though I hope not to need the help =)


jwsknk, March 8, 2019 at 7:43 am

As long as you can carry your bags on the bike do the ride. A lot is on trail, the Nebraska / Iowa state line is painted across the bridge near the middle of the river. And the ride is mostly on trail/shared use paths that should get you close to the expo and campground. If they are in the same place as before.


Samantha Allen, July 16, 2019 at 4:36 am

what is the weight limit on the bags that the ragbrai truck carries? I don’t recall seeing that anywhere. or if someone could point to where I could find that:)


tdubya500, July 16, 2019 at 5:28 am

Samantha, 1 bag 50 lbs, they usually only weigh them the first day but they do weigh them.
See #8


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