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To Charter or Not To Charter?

Many discussions or plugs about using charter services on RAGBRAI.
What are your reasons to use a charter service?
What are your reasons to have your own support vehicle?
Or, are you happy with the RAGBRAI services? (i.e. “The Truck”)
If you have never used a charter, why not? (I’ll admit, I’ve never used one)

19 Replies

W Fanning, March 30, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Brian for me.. never been to Iowa, I thought I take one part of the logistics out of the equation.. I’m going with a charter, PBV.. I hope to do the ride again.. maybe at that time, I would do the ride with minimal services.. hoping to meet lots of new friends.. see you in Orange City…

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Barin Beard, March 30, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Same here…never been to Iowa. First I was thinking about where to park my car, then I learned of the charters on here. At first I was just going to use the charter shuttle service, but then ultimately decided to use the whole service. I decided on BBC. Why? I don’t know…just had to make a decision and I liked what I saw on their website. I talked to the owner, Bob via Skype and it was done. Looking forward to this ride!

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trek2300, March 30, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Barin:
I’ve used BBC since my first RAGBRAI 12 years ago; Bob has a class act and his staff does their absolute best to smooth out any speed bumps. Drop me a note if you have any questions. Otherwise, you’re quite welcome to ride with me!
Tom

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Paul Diamond, March 30, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Can family non-riders use the facilities of PBV? Or is it limited to only riders?

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Mike Murphy, March 30, 2017 at 7:30 pm

I have used Brancel (BBC) for the last five Ragbrai’s. My first three I was part of a small team of five riders and one driver. I find that a charter like BBC makes it much easier to do the week long ride. It’s not the big things but several little items that I find that makes it easier. Two shower trucks at our campsite everyday, not walking around trying to find a shower truck its there. Multiple charging stations that allow you to keep everything charged at 100% everyday. Laundry service on Wednesday which means I only take four sets of riding clothes and five days of causal clothes. Easy directional signs so you can find the campsite easily. Wide variety of drinks and snacks ready for you at the end of your ride that you can enjoy under large group tents. Drinks are at a reasonable charge. With 500 people you always have someone to talk to about the ride. I have meet several friends with Brancel that we go to dinner with every night during Ragbrai. Bob and his family do whatever is necessary and possible to make your ride enjoyable. I am sure that other charters do this as well I can only speak about Brancel.

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BillSpriggs, March 30, 2017 at 7:51 pm

This will be my 4th year with PBV. I love the tent service, my bags are in the tent when I get to camp and I leave them in the tent in the morning. Huge charging station. 50+ shower stalls in camp. Dinner service every night. Breakfast items available every morning. Entertainment in camp every night. Wednesday laundry service. I can ship my bike directly to camp and ship it back at the end of the ride. Charter service from Omaha to the start town and charter back to Omaha at the end of the ride. Admittedly each of these service come at a cost but you can choose the services that you want to purchase. It’s my vacation and I really enjoy getting on my bike and not having to worry about the logistics. One caveat, if you don’t like crowds PBV might not be for you.

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Michrider !!!, March 30, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Paul Diamond: Can family non-riders use the facilities of PBV? Or is it limited to only riders?

Call Tammy (PBV) at 712-328-0161. Tammy is great and will help with your decision!!!

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Michrider !!!, March 30, 2017 at 9:38 pm

BillSpriggs: This will be my 4th year with PBV. I love the tent service, my bags are in the tent when I get to camp and I leave them in the tent in the morning. Huge charging station. 50+ shower stalls in camp. Dinner service every night. Breakfast items available every morning. Entertainment in camp every night. Wednesday laundry service. I can ship my bike directly to camp and ship it back at the end of the ride. Charter service from Omaha to the start town and charter back to Omaha at the end of the ride. Admittedly each of these service come at a cost but you can choose the services that you want to purchase. It’s my vacation and I really enjoy getting on my bike and not having to worry about the logistics. One caveat, if you don’t like crowds PBV might not be for you.

I agree with Bill. I also love the tent service. It’s my vacation. I choose to pay for PBV’s service!! That’s why PBV is my favorite charter! Bill, did you mention great coffee in the morning? Power pump stations for tires!!
Pete, Tammy and their crew go all out to make sure we have a great week!!!
BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!!

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KenH, March 31, 2017 at 8:29 am

What are your reasons to use a charter service?

I’ve only used a charter once and that was last year. For the first time I was going to have to do RAGBRAI alone and I was planning to go bare bones and use the Register truck. My wife hated that idea. She wanted me to be with people who would notice that I did not show up in camp each night! So I went with the Riverbend Club/Charter, one of the cheaper ones. And they did an excellent job! They got us good campsites in each town, provided helpful information about each town, had a great charging station for our devices, the smaller size made finding baggage easy each night, there were cold drinks morning and evening, … pretty much everything I really needed they did for me and did it well. Charters like PBV do a whole lot of stuff for you and I have nothing bad to say about them. But you pay extra for all their extras and if you don’t want them, or don’t need them, or just can’t afford them, the lower cost charters are also well worth considering. Plus, you will make weeklong friends very easily on any charter and that adds a lot to the experience.

What are your reasons to have your own support vehicle?

I happen to own a motorhome so when we first did RAGBRAI that just seemed like the obvious way to go. That first year we had a friend who was enthusiastic about driving for us. You can take as much stuff as you could possibly want. You have a fridge, a generator, and you sleep in air conditioned comfort. Life is good! But I kinda regret it. My team is now addicted to the motorhome and it is proving difficult to get a driver every year. Plus one driver had a habit of bumping things with the motorhome. Luckily no damage to the things that we were liable for but some minor repairs to the motorhome were necessary.

So now the motorhome has just become one more thing to worry about all week for me and I really appreciated the simple worry free life I led at last year thanks to the Riverbend Charter. But, in my dreams one day we will hook up with someone who would enjoy driving for us every year and who has the skill to avoid bumping things with the big box on wheels and then all that would be forgotten and life would be good again!

Or, are you happy with the RAGBRAI services? (i.e. “The Truck”)

I have never used the Register truck. I have talked to people who use it and enjoy it however. And that includes people my age — sixty-somethings. So, it is a viable option for people of a wide variety of ages, not just the youngsters.

If you have never used a charter, why not? (I’ll admit, I’ve never used one)

My first three years at RAGBRAI the motorhome option worked quite well. Your own support vehicle provides you options and freedoms that charters, clubs, and teams just cannot provide at any price. But the one thing they do not provide is freedom from worry about your support vehicle and its logisitics. Every RAGBRAI option has its pros and cons so it is nice to have options and it can be nice to vary your choices from year to year.

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jwsknk, March 31, 2017 at 8:38 am

First couple of years did the RAGBRAI truck. RAGBRAI X drove out to the start with another guy. left his car there (close to some of his family) and we had someone pick us up at the end. Next year there was a group leaving from Ames (Bike World?) that chartered a school bus for delivery to start and pickup, no week long stuff. RAGBRAI XII started to meet other bikers from the Ames area. So started doing other rides with the Skunks before RAGBRAI XIII. One charter bus for the trip out and back, pickup with horse trailer for the week.null

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BillSpriggs, March 31, 2017 at 9:21 am

Mich, I forgot one of the most important PBV features, Deschutes Pale Ale on tap, all you need is your PBV on tap, and the big tent with cooling fans.

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Eric Edlund, March 31, 2017 at 12:47 pm

We used LCC for our first RAGBRAI in 2014 and we thought they were great, reasonable price and good basic support. I definitely recommend Lake Country Cyclists.
This year (our 2nd time) we’re using our own support vehicle for a group of 8 or so because we’ll have more autonomy and it’ll make it easier to accommodate some day rider friends and family to join us. It’s a bit cheaper too.
One downside of the charter was that we had to bundle up and leave the finish town (Guttenberg) in a hurry–with our own support vehicle we’ll be more leisurely and have a chance to relax and enjoy Lansing (though we’re not yet sure where we’re staying that night).

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jake d, March 31, 2017 at 6:17 pm

I’ll second the ‘Two Thumbs Up’ for LCC charter service. I know PBV and Brancel get a lot of attention on this site, and I have never heard a bad word about them. I’m sure they provide excellent service. However, not everyone wants, needs, or can afford that level of service. Especially people just looking to upgrade from the Register truck, or newbies who need someone to take care of the major logistics.

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Nico ZZZ, April 1, 2017 at 10:16 am

This will be my third RAGBRAI. I will use PBV for the third time as well. Coming in from FL (with teammates coming in from other states and countries), it was great to find a charter that handles everything I need: bike shipping, bus/start/end town. I WANT the other services mentioned above: tent service, showers, and a home at the end of every ride with cold beer on tap! And as mentioned often, Tammy, Pete and their great team handles all the details.
I used to live in Omaha, and that would have been the time to go w/o a charter, but at that time of my life I didn’t understand this madness of wanting to ride for a week in the corn. Now in FL, and much older, I now understand RAGBRAI and spend $$$$$!!!! to do it!
Ride On!

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Brian Englert, April 1, 2017 at 11:31 am

First time RAGBRAI’er here.

For my first one I decided to sign up with a charter(PBV) knowing that I don’t have to worry about packing all of my stuff, finding a place to camp, SHOWERS!!, and SAG support. It’s my vacation so I might as well enjoy it and not have to worry about all that stuff right??

Also, with the starting point so far north, my wife who agreed early to drop me off at the start without knowing where the start was going to be, only has to drop me off at Omaha(which is only a three-hour trip) then I can take the PBV bus to Orange City.

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