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sleep in a tent

First time rider signed up with Pork Belly Charters.

It’s been a long time since i’ve slept in a tent and basically on the ground. And the fact that i’m planning on doing this for 7 days in a row leaves me a little anxious. I’m the type that considers roughing it involves a 3 star hotel.
Pork Belly is setting up tent and everything else.

Not concerned about the riding aspect, more concerned about getting a relatively good nights sleep.
Is the a legitimate concern? Or am I just a tent wimp?

10 Replies

david636, May 8, 2017 at 11:16 am

Last year was my first Ragbrai and like you I was concerned about the camping. I went with PBV, using them again this year, they make things very easy and are a pleasure to be around! You do have a somewhat legitimate concern. What I found out last year is the campground area can be somewhat noisy. Not so much from your fellow campers, although loud snoring can be heard, but mostly from noise outside the immediate camping area. There are a lot of trains in Iowa, they run at night, they make noise, shake the ground, and blow their whistles. Occasionally, someone thinks it is fun to shoot off fireworks after it gets dark.

I brought along a 10-inch camp fan. The ambient sound from my fan helped dampen most of the noise. This year I’m also going to bring some ear plugs.
Out of the 8 nights I camped with PBV, I had 5 good nights’ sleep. The first night it was just too hot, the other two nights; numerous trains.
The nights where I did not sleep well, in no way diminished my enthusiasm for the next days’ ride. Ragbrai is an amazing event! PBV is a great charter.

If non-camper like myself can survive the camping, you will too.

That is my 2cent perspective.


Nico ZZZ, May 8, 2017 at 11:17 am

Hola BP,
I have done a couple of Ragbrais, both with PBV and tent service. I am not a camper either, but I sleep great most nights in PBV camp.
I use an air mattress and fill with a 4-D cell pump – very easy. Sleeping bag to lay on or slide into when it gets colder some nights, and a sheet for the hotter nights. O2 fan as well. Ear plugs are strongly suggested. Alarm and the sound of campers awakening at 5am will get you up and going.
After a day on the road, a PBV hot shower, a couple (or three or four) draft beers and some fine food and sleeping is EASY.
BTW, bring a flag or something else to attach to the outside of your tent – a KYBO run in the darkness and upon your return you are looking at hundreds of identical tents! (Headlight is also helpful for the darkness of camp.)
See you in camp!


Luv 2 Ski, May 8, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Invest in a good sleeping pad or air mattress, bring ear plugs, get a battery powered fan. A flashlight, and/or a head lamp as well. Also something to distinguish your tent as suggested previously. You may need it in the massive tent city that is PBV.


trek2300, May 8, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Air mattress, fan, pillow, ear plugs, melatonin or benedryl.


Dockat, May 8, 2017 at 1:30 pm

A couple of beers seemed to do the trick for me.


KenH, May 8, 2017 at 3:50 pm

I am fairly old, hadn’t tent camped in years (decades really), and I’m a side sleeper (side sleepers tend to put a premium on padding when sleeping!). I had no trouble last year when I did the tent thing at RAGBRAI for the first time. I used a 2 inch Thermarest self inflating sleeping pad and that was plenty for me. If you can borrow one from a camping friend try sleeping on it on a hard floor at home one night, that will tell you if you need more. As long as you stay within PBV’s weight/size/number-of-bags limits you can bring a fancy air mattress. I saw people with my charter (Riverbend) using 12 inch thick air mattresses with internal AC powered inflators last year. They’d drag them over to the cell phone charging station, fill them up, and then drag them back to their tents each evening with big smiles on their faces! So, try some things at home before you leave and you should be prepared to deal with sleeping on the ground. If you go minimalist with something like a Thermarest then you will want to do what I did and inspect the area you are considering for you tent for tree roots and debris. Or, that is what you do when you set up your own, you say PBV is setting up yours….

Noise doesn’t bother me much, the heat last year bothered me some. A small battery powered fan takes care of both. We’re going in a motorhome again this year as we have done all years except last year and the beds in that thing are not the most comfortable either. But you can ride a little short of sleep the first day or two and then once you’re good and tired you will sleep like a baby the rest of the week!


BillSpriggs, May 8, 2017 at 6:53 pm

This will be my 4th year with PBV. I use a 2″ Thermarest self inflating pad and it works fine. I have a fleece sleeping bag liner, sleeping bags are way to warm for Iowa in July. I only use the bag liner if it gets a little too cool. I have a full sized bed sheet that my wife stitched across the bottom and about a 1/3rd up the side that I use most nights. I also have a therarest pillow. Tent fan is a must, I have a 10″ O2 that I bought at Walmart. I have a cheap bike light that I put on the top of my tent if I have to venture out in the dark, makes it very easy to find my way back.


mootsman, May 9, 2017 at 7:44 am

I recommend ear plugs made of a soft foamy material. While they squish down and go in your ear like the solid rubber type they don’t chafe the inside of the ear. The solid rubber type make my ears sore part way through the week.

Also a good air mattress with its own re-chargeable pump works great. Air mattresses are not as hot as a pad. And a single charge lasts the whole week as long as you don’t also use the pump to deflate the mattress.


John, May 9, 2017 at 1:14 pm

I love my Therm-a-rest LuxuryLite cot.


Sandaltan ., May 9, 2017 at 4:44 pm

As above plus a sleep mask. Pitch-black dark only happens fer sure in the woods.



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