Sense of travel logistics

This will be our first Ragbrai ride. Would like to acquaint myself with logistics from those who have ridden. This is being asked by someone is travelling from afar by car. To minimize the vast requirement for parking, is driving to the starting point discouraged? Is it encouraged to find other rider/driver from outlying area willing to share a ride to the starting area? Upon completion of the ride, are there services to bring bike, gear and ‘us’ back to the starting area? Does it make more sense to leave your vehicle at the destination, and finding a ride to the starting point. Appreciate any input. Nothing is obvious till it’s obvious…

26 Replies

Bob Amlie, December 29, 2018 at 11:56 am

Chris, I’ll just respectfully guess that you must be in the Marketing & Promotions Department, somewhere. I recall the time that I rolled into the overnite town at 11 am, set up my own tent, showered, had lunch and liquid refreshment, and after a while, I went downtown to watch your kind of people still rolling in to town. I was sitting in a yard at 3 p.m., under a shade tree, and the local sitting on her lawn next to me observed: “they don’t look like they’re having much fun, to me.” Which was true—they did not. No wonder they “need” an EBike to enable them, if they are just there to party hearty. I, went to my tent at 10 P., so I could be ready for the road by 6 am,, and not fry in the afternoon heat. But, thanks for your attempt to redefine RAGBRAI, anyway. Maybe new people will consider it a tip, on “How NOT to do RAGBREAI”.


jelly0317, December 29, 2018 at 7:04 pm

What a great definition of RAGBRAI: looking down on “people still rolling in to town” at (gasp!) 3 p.m.


Low Rider, December 29, 2018 at 11:46 pm

Mike, I’m guessing you are coming from the east, eh? There have been plenty of reasons provided for joining an Iowa based team or parking in the end town which will be closer your home, both ways, and finding a way to the start town. One more is that congestion leaving and heading west from the end town is often bad. The groups planning on going west will try to meet early in the end town to leave early. If you don’t know what morning start time or pace you want maintain, you may be under a lot of pressure on the last day to catch your ride west (this can be an issue if you are part of an Iowa based team). If your car is in the end town, you can choose your own ride to get there when you want.

A few years back, a member of my team needed to wait and leave each day at 4:00 PM, he always got in the the overnight town by 6:00 PM. He is a blind paralympian, a stoker on a tandem, on the Canadian Paralympics team using RAGBRAI for training. They had to wait for the roads to be clear of most of the other riders to safely do the pace he needed for training. You can choose your ride, such as when you leave in the morning, your targeted time to arrive in the overnight town, the pace you keep, and why, when, and how often you stop (there are service times for the pass through towns you will have to consider, but that is involves more discussion than is necessary for the stated purpose of this thread.). Depending on how your gear moves across the state, you will have constraints on how late you can sleep in and when you must to have your gear packed.


Sandaltan ., December 30, 2018 at 5:54 pm

The Little Stoker would never permit me to roll into an overnight town at 11:00 am. I am reminded of our Creston host’s account of greeting the first arrival into town at the top of the hill at 8:30 am. She thought that quite curious. So did we. The day into Creston was 82 miles with 40 some hills. Count me on board with the guy rolling with cammo panniers, early can be too early.



RDaryl Daryl, December 30, 2018 at 6:52 pm

Then there is always 2AM “early” the next day – as our team witnessed in Waverly on XLII. Our camp was at a park along the route into town. I joked with a first timer that riders would be seen coming into town “into the wee hours’. It was confirmed . . . . .
Although there is no one “right” way to do RAGBRAI, there IS a wrong way . . . . . racing straight though without experiencing any of the local towns (unless your only goal is training for the Paralympics).
I can crank out 60 miles before 10AM at home. Why would I waste a perfectly good RAGBRAI by treating it as a race each day? Stretch it out over 12 hours and you might actually create some fantastic memories!
Our team record is Thursday of XXVI when it took us 14 hours to complete 46 miles from Eldora to Cedar Falls. So many awesome memories of that day when Chickenman used to trailer his “top of the hill” party.
I know a guy who’s goal was to race to be the first into the over night town. Then he met out group on XXIV. . . . . . . that changed his RAGBRAI life forever (for the better).
But then again – as Michrider says . . . . . . “RAGBRAI don’t care!!!”


Bob Amlie, December 30, 2018 at 8:13 pm

“RAGBRAI don’t care” is kind of an Orwellian mantra that means little, except that the say-er can apply it like a magic salve to cure all ills & settle arguments. It’s apparently a one-size-fits-all-situations ambiguous platitude. The people who bleat it out must figure that if they say it often enough, and that if it catches on to where enough of the sheep are bleating it, that of course–it will make perfect sense! And, the Orwellian part being that it really doesn’t make sense–if anything, the opposite would be true. Because, RAGBRAI does have boundaries, as it should. So, any time you can’t make a convincing argument about something—hey–just invoke “RAGBRAI don’t care”, and the rest of the sheep will start bleating “RAGBRAI don’t care”, and that will settle the issue, once and for all. You hope so, right? To which I would respond: Not hardly.


Sandaltan ., December 30, 2018 at 9:39 pm

R-Daryl Daryl; the Chickenman still rides and entertains us on YouTube.



LawnchairMan, December 30, 2018 at 9:44 pm

I have to agree with Chris on the Mardi Gras aspect of Ragbrai. My first year was 2007 and have completed five Ragbrai’s. I have seen all sorts of costumes and helmet decorations. I think there was Team Superhero. All you needed was a cape to join. I thought I saw people tossing bead necklaces, and certainly there were bands, dancing, drinking and the party atmosphere. And we can’t forget all the food! I describe Ragbrai to my friends as a rolling food-fest. A rolling Mardi Gras.

Yes, some of the days of brutal heat and wind burned me out by the time I got in. Other days I just cruise along and have plenty of power to enjoy the festival along the way or in the over-night town. I too bed by 2200 so I can ride by 0530. I’m not there to party hearty as I don’t drink, but I see people having fun around me and I enjoy the happy crowd. Haven’t actually been to Mardi Gras, but I imagine it is a lot like what I see at Ragbrai. I think that the people who drag in late in the day didn’t train as much as they should have. Ragbrai is what you make it. Get yourself in shape ahead of time so you CAN have fun when you get there!


Evin Thompson, December 31, 2018 at 4:56 pm

My Ode to the New Year for RAGBRAI Nation
I wish all in RAGBRAI Nation a Happy New Year. May your year be healthy and prosperous and may I hope to see you all between the rows of corn and beans in late July 2019 in my native state.

Three interesting threads have dominated the recent Forum conversation; electric assist bikes, helmet or no helmet and travel logistics. This is my attempt to comment on all three, since they are somewhat related. I am fully aware this thread will completely die in 26 days or less as we move towards the route announcement and then that subject will dominate the Forum.

First I believe that a resident of Iowa should immediately request the Attorney General of Iowa do a full investigation into the results of the RAGBRAI survey that is conducted by the Register. Obvious to me that the RAGBRAI team must be involved in a massive cover up about electric bikes. I looked at the last few surveys and electric bikes are not even mentioned as a safety issue. The RAGBRAI Team must be hiding something.


Having just spent several days in Iowa and reading the Register, the Iowa AG has many more important things on his plate (Tipton’s and Iowa Finance)

Electric bikes are not an issue. When they become an issue , RAGBRAI Nation will speak through their survey results and let the RAGBRAI staff know that they have an issue. Until that time let’s really concentrate on the real safety issues. Multiple people riding abreast, riding far to the left when not necessary and unclear riding intentions, these constantly ring out as major issues year after year in the survey. While I do not think two abreast is a big deal, I do think two of the very wide three wheel bikes riding side by side is a problem, especially on an up a hill when they are maybe going two miles an hour and some of us are trying to maneuver around. If you do not need to be that far to the left, think about it, swallow your pride and move right. Not signaling intentions, just be courteous, please. I will do my best also.

The survey has had positive results over the years. I have been riding RAGBRAI for the last 16 years and have noticed the number of pace lines decrease significantly. Yes, they still exist, they are not like my first few rides. I especially commend the Air Force Team as they used to be the worst but, now I never see an Air Force pace line. If you want to make a change in RAGBRAI, participate in the survey and of course this forum.

RAGBRAI is your own personal accomplishment, be proud of it and wear your patch on your sleeve with honor. I do not believe it is any less honorable for me to wear my patch than if someone who rides an electric bike wears theirs. It is only a patch. I look at many of our disabled riders on RAGBRAI riding hand cranks or riders with only one leg peddling with a prosthetic on the other and wonder if I could do the same. RAGBRAI is your ride to tell your story on how you accomplished it, not how others may have done their ride and how yours was harder. I will never forget a couple of years ago standing at watermelon stand on a hot day in southern Iowa feeling a little tired and sorry and looking down and seeing a double amputee, one above the knee and the other below knee, standing in the same line . This made me think about what I was really accomplishing. I was humbled.

But as we talk about electric bikes we should wonder if they are covered by a helmet law or not. Iowa does not have a helmet law for motorcycles so why should they have one for electric bikes or even bicycles.

I know a little bit about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I served for 34 years in the Navy having retired 7 years ago and did time in Iraq, Afghanistan and other exotic destinations defending the Republic. I know about when a noggin goes a jogg’in. TBI is serious business.

If you are in an accident and your head hits the pavement, good chances you will have some form of TBI. So you may say no big deal it is my noggin. Not exactly, our society through our health care system will have to take care of your noggin no matter how slight it is. A helmet is a good insurance policy to make sure we all do not have to bear your independent and free will decision not to wear a helmet. RAGBRAI is a very safe ride and you may be the most experienced rider out there, but a more inexperienced rider or may be someone who had too much to drink or too little to drink or eat (read “bonk”), may crash into you.

Having dealt with the trauma of brain injury, if you wear a helmet or not consider two things for your loved ones and people you do not even know. Have a living will that lets them know what you would want if you are injured. Do not make your next of kin live with the guilt of making THE decision, you can make it yourself now. And when you make that decision, be an organ donor. If you are on RAGBRAI, chances are your organs are probably pretty good. Your organ donation may give a life, a breath, or sight to someone who wants to hold and see their loved ones again.

A few years ago my resident state was thinking about getting rid of motorcycle helmet laws. I wrote my state delegates and said I was all in favor of such a proposal as long as when you got a motorcycle license or renewed it, you had to show your living will and become and organ donor. My delgates live and let live attitude changed and they did not support the change to state law. Seems massive costs to the health care system are more important than hair blowing freely in the wind.

And with the ability to be with loved ones again comes the ability to maybe participate in RAGBRAI. I believe MitchRider described RAGBRAI, a cross between a county pot luck dinner and Mardi Gras.
That is a good analogy, RAGBRAI is truly a cross and lies somewhere in between as I have been to both.

At a county pot luck dinner, it is a one day event that everyone gives something. The same could be said for RAGBRAI. Communities open up their streets and homes to provide an incredible experience to fellow humans for little gain except to know their community helped to promote the good spirit of Iowa and maybe put a few dollars in their coffers in the process. I was visiting with a young farmer in southern Iowa during the Christmas holidays and she hoped that RAGBRAI would come through their small community every year so that her church could raise the funds they need to stay open in their small town of less than 400 residents in the surrounding 20 miles. We went through her town in 2016 and they were able to put a new roof on the church. She went to clean up from the RAGBRAI mass the next day and picked up two pieces of trash. The point is that this is how a local views RABRAI as they come through, a great neighbor that is part of their community for a short period.

On the other spectrum is Mardi Gras. While some of the outside view may see the similarities, the inside view is different, but yet the same. The Krew’s that build, ride, and throw the beads from the floats raise thousands of dollars for local charities every year. It is part of the price of admission to be part of the experience. RAGBRAI is a bit the same in that with your registration fee, you support many charities across Iowa. At the same time when you stop and use a local food vendor, you are supporting a high school, a FAA or 4-H club, a church, a local fire department or EMS service, the cattle or pork producers and/or the local library. If you go to a restaurant or bar you are supporting the local community. While I fully realize commercial vendors are along the route to provide some additional options, I hope they support the local community by paying any required registration fees, as it helps the COMMUNITY. Mardi Gras is about having fun but it is also about caring about the community.

I do have to say, is I have walked the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras at 7:00 am, sober. Unlike RAGBRAI Nation, nobody ever picks up for themselves in the Big Easy. Thank you to all the volunteers that get out and clean the streets and sidewalks prior to the next day and the next parade in the Big Easy. Thank you to all the fellow citizens of RAGBRAI Nation that always pick up after themselves during the ride.

Another difference between RAGBRAI and Mardi Gras is that their usually a ball at the end of each parade requiring formal attire. I would hope that RAGBRAI never comes to that. If it does I am sure that some vendor will come along to rent tuxedos and gowns.

As I finish my long dialogue is that RAGBRAI cares and it doesn’t care. RAGBRAI is an experience and it cares that you have a fun, safe and fulling experience. It doesn’t care how you may enjoy that experience. May it be riding at the break of dawn (remember RAGBRAI doesn’t want you to start before 6:00 am) to quickly get to the overnight town on the power of only your own two legs, that is ok. If it it’s a leisurely wake up, getting on the road, stopping at every small town for however long you want to stop, using an electric assist to get over a hill because you just need that extra help, taking a nap under a shade tree, waking up and then and rolling into the overnight town at 6PM (another RAGBRAI guidance point to keep everybody safe), RAGBRAI doesn’t care. RAGBRAI does care that you have a safe, REGISTERED, and enjoyable experience in your own way. That is what makes RAGBRAI great and I encourage all to enjoy in their own way.

So my essay is complete, not another post from me on these subjects. My next post will be after the route prediction contest has closed and I let everyone know the route before the route announcement party. The clues were very obvious this year.

Happy New Year RAGRAI Nation! God Bless America!


Sandaltan ., January 1, 2019 at 8:05 am

A home run post Mr. Thompson!! Thank you.



Amanda, January 1, 2019 at 1:45 pm

Very good post, Mr. T! Just 200 days!


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