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Tips for the Morning – Inquiring minds want to know!

Ready for my 1st RAGBRAI! Been reading forums for weeks and have not seen anything on this – so figured I’d ask
We are all signed up with Bubba’s for our Charter, so our tenting and baggage transport are all set.

Can some RAGBRAI Veterans chime in on what to expect in the mornings on a few things please
1) How early should we be up and in line at the Shower Vendor? And how does that work/cost? Can you get showers whenever you like? Is there a better idea?
2) Where/when can we expect to find breakfast? Overnight town or a few miles out?
3) Assuming all the vendors take cash only? How much cash gets you through the week?

Thankyou all in advance – see you on the Road! Look for the sheet of plywood as my cycling pals like to say as they draft………..

9 Replies

Mike Cordes, May 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I haven’t paid close attention, but I don’t recall seeing anybody shower before the day’s ride – always after and sometimes just before bed so you are not a hot sweaty mess before hitting the tent. My recommendation is to not set a schedule or alarm. Sleep as late as you can an roll when ready.

You can find breakfast anywhere and everywhere – in town or along the route (roadside and/or in pass through towns). I recommend you do some experimenting.

As for cash, you are passing through Iowa and not on an Amazon river safari. There are towns with ATMs every 10 miles. I usually carry $50 each day and have never spent $30. But I’m not drinking along the way and I’m not going crazy with food either. Bring as much as you feel comfortable carrying around, but you can always find someplace to get more.


Luv 2 Ski, May 23, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Most shower trucks and other shower facilities are open in the overnight towns the day you arrive. They are easy to find and probably near the campsite your charter has set up. As for in the morning you leave town I am not so sure. I am a morning shower person at home and have never taken a morning shower on RAGBRAI. I just get up and ride.

Breakfast can be found in the overnight town but most is found in the pass-through towns. The first 2 towns usually have many breakfast options. Most first timers have to experience Chris Cakes, which is always in a pass-through town at the beginning of the day.

Cash is good and how much you need depends on how much you eat and drink. Established restaurants take credit cards, but many vendors, church groups and other food sellers want cash. I allot $50.00 per day and that includes dinner. Some people need more, some need less, just depends on your intake. Many days I have left over, but I do not drink alcohol during the day. I do have a smoothie or 2 and they are $5.00-$6.00 each. Typical lunch food can be $5.00-$15.00.

Have a great first RAGBRAI.


Nico ZZZ, May 23, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Welcome to your new addiction: RAGBRAI!!!

I’m a relative neebie, having ridden in 2014, 2016 and going again this year 2017.
1) I have gone with Pork Belly, and the showers are not available in the morning, not sure elsewhere. As far as getting out of camp, I found myself awake by 4:30 without an alarm, and on the road by 6am, but some like to roll out later after the crowds. I like the cool morning start.
2) The first town out from the Overnight is usually the “Breakfast Town,” which will have the breakfast vendors, but you can most likely find options along the way, a vendor or even a farm family selling some version of breakfast, or Bloody Marys, or …., and there are Caseys and similar along the way to grab something if you are dire need of breakfast.
3) The cash situation depends upon your desire/love of adult beverages! There is no price gouging that I have seen, prices are reasonable: $1 water, $3-5 beer, I think sandwiches were about $5-6, pie is $3. You may find yourself eating more than you would think, because you are burning maybe 5,000 calories a day, and as you approach those towns and smell all that meat on the grill you will be a drooling Pavlov’s dog! And yes, cash is needed, in smaller bills when you can of course, as it also speeds up the line.

Main thing, RAGBRAI is whatever you want it to be: go fast/ go slow, start early/ start late, no pie/ lots of pie! Bloody Mary mornings, vodka lemonade afternoons with some Iowa Craft Beer in there for good measure. Nap under a town square tree, have a second slice of pie 6 miles after the last slice…. You will find the groove that works for you. The first year for me I was overwhelmed by the mass of humans on wheels that first morning. After a couple of days I was feeling comfortable, and was so happy that I still had so many days of riding left. It is a great seven days, some better than others, but what a Magical Week in the Corn.
Enjoy, and Ride On!


Dueywife, May 23, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Check with your charter, they will probably have a set time they need all bags/gear loaded on the trucks to move to the next town, so plan accordingly.
I would also venture to assume your charter will be providing showers and a majority of riders shower after coming in for the day vs. in the morning. I prefer getting all the sunscreen and road grime off of me before enjoying the evening festivities. The next day, I’m just going out for another long day’s ride and undoing it all anyways :) I would also assume that’s included with your charter benefits.
As for breakfast, I usually eat a little something (Clif bar, banana, granola bar, etc.) before I start the day, it can be 10 miles to the first town of the day and you’ll need fuel to get there. You can usually find first breakfast in the overnight town before you hit the road. For second breakfast I recommend Farm Boys breakfast burritos, Kris Kakes, Biscuits and Gravy served by the VFW, heck even Mr. Porkchop has served as breakfast on the route. There are too many options to list and the signs leading to that first town will make you all the more hungry.
I would also agree with $50/day for food and drinks.


Bikingaddict, May 23, 2017 at 3:50 pm

As others have said, showers in the morning are generally a no-go. I know Pork Belly Ventures’ shower trucks pack up and head out of town in the middle of the night, so they are definitely not available in the morning. I can’t speak to any other shower service (such as Joe’s Wet Shack) but I would assume they do the same. Your charter “might” have a sink or hose available for simple cleanup in the morning, but don’t count on it. Bring a big package of unscented baby wipes if you want to clean up a bit in the morning. They’ll come in handy for tons of other things as well.

Unless you have access to a sink in the morning, count on brushing your teeth with water from your water bottle (or Gatorade or beer or Jack Daniels). Just find someplace to spit that isn’t where your neighbors need to walk :)

The KEY thing to think about in the morning is your “morning constitutional”. Porta-potty lines can be insanely long first thing in the morning, and they only get longer as the 6:00-7:00 hour progresses. So if you need to be packed up and out of camp by a certain time, either make allowance for toilet time or multi-task while you’re in line.

Depending on how many air pumps your charter has it may be more efficient to check your tire pressure the night before, because there will probably be a line in the morning. You can also avoid lines in the morning by filling your water bottles ahead of time.

Mostly though – don’t sweat it (figuratively I mean – you will definitely sweat literally). The only real deadline you have is the cutoff for getting out of your tent and your bags over to the baggage trailer. Other than that you’ll have plenty of time to ride your ride the way you want to ride it and make RAGBRAI memories.


cyduke, May 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm

50 dollars a day sounds about fair nowadays. I took less than $100.00 on my first RAGBRAI back in 1983, and made it out alive. That was the first year for an entry fee too -something like 7 or 10 bucks for the week, and people lost their minds.
There’s always signs for free water here and there. The Iowa Air Guard would set up a water truck every day, and it would always be at the right part of the day when you needed water. Nunn hydration has set up each day for the past few years to give away product, which is nice as it isn’t overpowering or sweet like Gatorade.
I haven’t done it in a while, but if you’re camping in a residential neighborhood, try knocking on doors, and asking to buy a shower for 5 bucks or so. More than not I wouldn’t get turned away, and now and then you’d get to visit with the local, and hopefully leave a good impression of our crazy journey.
Enjoy the ride.


SFC JKL 2, May 23, 2017 at 8:54 pm

Expect $6 for a shower. Normally includes a towel. If not, I’ll suggest bringing a shammy or microfiber towel. A regular towel won’t dry and will smell like a dead animal in about 2 days. Anything you leave out will be soaking wet in the morning so make sure you pack up the night before.
2. There will be a few things in the overnight town. Most people eat on the road so they will have a better selection. I’ll second Farm Boys. They are the only place I can get a diet Coke(unless I go to Caseys). Water, gatorade, coffee and beer. Nobody sells pop.
3. Cash is king unless you hit an actual restaurant. Cash machines are fairly plentiful if you need more. You can be as cheap or expensive as you want. Hyvee is a great place to eat cheap. Every town has a free water point. It’s normally on the way out of town, garden hose quality if that bothers you. Alcohol is the big variable. I’m a drinker so $70 on a cheap day up to $100 on a good one. I also keep a little hidden in case I find a good souvenir on the road.
Since you are new I’ll give my best advice. Slow down. Walk thru every town. Take time to explore. The greatest things of the week will be found unexpectedly. If you’re goal is to get camp and read a book, you are missing out. Support the people who are out supporting us. That’s what really makes this the greatest ride.


KenH, May 24, 2017 at 7:38 am

Nobody in their right mind takes a shower in the morning before riding a bicycle across Iowa in the last week of July! Nobody.

Charter or not, I try to get up and get on the road between 6:00 and 6:30 every morning. Enough people will get up and start moving around by then to wake you up anyway, may as well go with the flow. If you manage to sleep through that be sure you get up before your charter leaves town!

Everyone is different. For me doing this ride for under $40/day would be tight. I’me sure you could do it for $30 if you skimp. It’s not about skimping for me, I do my skimping to get ready for RAGBRAI! I bring about $60/day and I’ve always had plenty left over. I’ve never spent more than $10/week on alcohol however.


William Lathrop, May 24, 2017 at 9:21 am

Thanks for all the input!

Great tips and I learned a few things


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