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Finally going to mark RAGBRAI off my bucket list and what perfect timing as RAGBRAI 2018 ends at the Mississippi on my 50th birthday. As a newbie doing this with some girlfriends (also newbie’s) what are the chances of actually getting a real bed at the various overnight stops? Between hotels/motels and awesome Iowans opening up their homes, what are our chances of avoiding camping? Thanks for your input.

34 Replies

jwsknk, January 14, 2018 at 11:34 am

Know more in a couple of weeks when they announce the towns. But hotels will probably be hard to find. Unless places like des moines or ames are on route then they might not be close to the campground and luggage drop. In a couple months the town websites will have housing application up forhome stays.


Niles, January 14, 2018 at 11:44 am

I’d say your chance will be near zero unless you are ready to spend a small fortune, realistically!

But why notjump out your newbie anxiety and be brave? If you all you want from RAGBRAI is a real bed and perhaps a few girlfirends, what can be better than just riding around your house and then a tea party afterwards? If going general camping sounds too high a hurdle, going with a charter like Pork Belly with then tent service will relieve a lot of your daily non-riding tasks and give you fuller experience of RAGBRAI than being isolated from the RAGBRAI mass crowd — which is the best part of RAGBRAI.


Gallagher, January 14, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Actually if you go with a charter, it can be done pretty comfortably. I don’t personally use a tent service (I use a tent cot), but that would make things pretty easy. P


Dizzy, January 14, 2018 at 6:08 pm

While not quite a hotel room and if I’m not mistaken, PBV has some bunks-on-wheels, called “PHAT Rooms”, that you might want to check out. I’d call early…like now.


mootsman, January 15, 2018 at 8:11 am

There is a several year waiting list for PBV’s Phat Rooms. They’re booked long in advance. I had the option for 1 this year but declined as I am likely a partial week rider this year as I have a busy summer schedule.

But PBV (Pork Belly Adventures, http://pkbelly.com/) has 2 other options. The one I’m going with for a 2nd year in a row is the “tent service”. Not only do they supply the tent, set it up & pack it away in each overnight town, they also deliver & pick up your luggage to/from the tent. That is huge as searching for your luggage at the back end of a semi load of luggage can be time consuming. The 2nd option they have is a hotel service where in most towns they provide a bus to take you to hotels which are a town or 2 away from the RAGBRAI overnight town. That does give up a big part of the RAGBRAI experience though being away from the overnight town.

For sleeping bring a good air mattress and foam ear plugs. I sleep just as well as if I were in a hotel room. The PBV campground is quiet and they enforce quiet time from 9pm to 6am.


Gallagher, January 15, 2018 at 8:14 am

My charter through Bikes to You also started a RAGBRAI in Style service which sounds similar to what’s being described … https://www.bikestoyou.com/events/ragbrai-charter-signup-pg102.htm


KenH, January 15, 2018 at 8:39 am

I can’t think of any real bed options that have not been mentioned. They sell out fast so if you are determined to have one you must act as soon as each town or charter starts taking reservations.

Having done the ride most years in a private motorhome and once sleeping on the ground in a tent I can tell you that real beds are highly overrated. I’d rather tent camp than do the motorhome thing personally (although to be honest I have not had the pleasure of tenting in a thunderstorm!). The year I did the tent thing I slept on a 2 inch Thermarest pad and that was quite nice. I did notice that quite a few people with the charter I was using (Riverbend) had quite large Intex air mattresses that had AC powered self inflators that they plugged into the cell phone charging generator each evening to pump them up. If you do end up tenting keep that in mind but check with your charter about weight and size limits.


Michrider !!!, January 15, 2018 at 8:44 am

RAGBRAI is primarily a camping event. Sometimes private housing can be found. Follow the instructions listed in general information.

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


Amanda, January 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

Awesome to hear you and your friends are planning to do RAGBRAI! The experiences you and your friends will have will never be forgotten! My friends and I started when I was 40. and 20 years later, we are still going! When we get together, we always get on the subject of RAGBRAI and usually FOTFL at all the adventures we remember!

But in answer to your question. There won’t be any hotels available. Period. If you are going with a charter or RAGBRAI services, be prepared to camp. If you have your own driver, you have more options. Applying with the host towns in May gives you a chance to be in a house. We try to find houses and camp in yards. We usually try to find people we know or friends of people in each town. Each host town does a hgreat job of supplying homes but not everyone gets a home.

Good luck on your adventure and read the forums for any advice you can get! It does help!


Ken Reed, January 15, 2018 at 11:06 am

You sleep on the car ride back from the town on the Mississippi. ?


Amanda, January 15, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Ditto to what reedkennethia said!

One of my “friends” says you can sleep when you are dead.


Mike Cordes, January 15, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Break your leg in the overnight town and they’ll let you sleep in a hospital bed. I’m sure that somebody has used that trick… ;-)


Ken Reed, January 15, 2018 at 3:55 pm

During the week, you don’t sleep worth a darn…and you love it. ?


trknight, January 15, 2018 at 3:59 pm

There are several charter services with varying levels of service provided. Some have, like Pork Belly, extra levels of service provided for a fee. There are plenty of others you might consider, all depending what you are willing to pay for. The closest similarity to camping could be just sleeping in a tent. Or, another option may be to hire a large RV and someone to drive/manage it (and that’s not really camping either).


Jack in VA, January 16, 2018 at 4:38 am

Amazing how a decent tent, a good air mattress, and a pair of ear plugs (plus 50-ish miles of cycling that day) will provide some of the BEST nights of sleep I’ve ever had.


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